Moss, Christopher Hawthorne. “Where My Love Lies Dreaming”, Dreamspinner Press, 2013.
“Ole Man River”
I am a bit embarrassed that I have never read anything by Christopher Hawthorne Moss especially after reading his bio. This story is set in one of my favorite places, New Orleans and is about U.S. Treasury agent Johnny Stanley who we meet while he is sailing down the Mississippi River on the “Le Beau Soleil” riverboat. He finds himself totally attracted to the owner of the boat, Frankie Deramus, who appears to be very much the charming and debonair Southerner. Johnny had been able to hide the way he felt about other man before this but he is so taken with Frankie that he has to fight his thoughts. This was destroyed when he was put into a situation that he had to help Frankie and he was forced to deal with the way he felt.
Johnny felt it was impossible to admit that two men could fall in love with each other and it all fell apart after an argument the men had. He bolted and went home and Frankie tried to follow but was held back by the gradual secession of Southern states from the Union and the Civil War began. Johnny and Frankie do meet again but on the battlefield.
Before he met Johnny, Frankie never thought about loving anything but his boat. His entire life revolved around it and he spent every moment there, sometimes having brief romantic interludes with some of the male passengers but then he saw Johnny and Johnny saw him.
Johnny never had any intention of falling in love with another man. He just wanted to be like everyone else. He hides his desires for other men and feels they are not natural. However, he could not deny his feelings for Frankie and soon the two men fell in love with each other. Johnny tried to make himself believe that he was only going through a “phase” which he would later forget about.
What I found interesting is that even though we have many gay historical novels, we have relatively few set during the Civil War, a war that set brother against brother and lover against lover. The story we have here is not only filled with romance and passion but it is also a look at a time that could have destroyed America and Moss captures that and the magic of New Orleans beautifully.