Rosen, Rob, editor. “Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads”, Cleis, 2014.
A Gay Look at a Time that Was
When I see the name Rob Rosen on the spine of a book it does not stay on the shelf for long. I love the way he writes and when he edits, I love his choices. This time we go back in time to the country estate and meet servants and masters read about intrigue and mystery and watch money be exchanged for sex and vice versa. Quite simply, this means we are in for a very good time.
Rosen brings us some very hot and sexy stories all set sometime before the first World War. It is a time of leisure and the threat of war is not yet upon the world. Those with money and class have lots of time to indulge in whatever they want and in this anthology they want sex. Just as the upper classes looks for liaisons so do the needier class with the hope that finding the right person might change lives. Here is a book about short sexual comings together and it is all about fun—reading it and writing it were also obviously all about fun. So someone is bound to say—are the stories really dirty and smutty? To that I must reply that when I started reviewing I got very bored with some of the erotic stories and anthologies I had been sent but after a while I noticed that there is that category that I call literary smut in which the stories, although highly erotic, are also literature and that is the case with Rob Rosen. I do not believe that he would choose a story that does not have literary merit and he is one of the several that I put into the literary smut category.
And there is diversity here as well—each story is set in a different place and at a different time before the war. I read one review in which the reviewer said that there was more porn than plot and I can only wonder if we read the same book. She went on to say and I quote, “The Lord meets the lad, exchange some glances and some banter, and then they find a place for their one encounter. That’s really all the story was, just the single sex scene between the two men. There was hope for more in the end, but definitely not a solid ending. Just a fun, hot little tale. And that, my friends, would be my review x13. All the stories followed the same basic formula with no real plot to be found”. I am firmly convinced that the reviewer not only did not read the book but also did not even see it because none of what she says has an ounce of truth in it. I have never understood why someone would write a review of something they did not read and trash it as well.
Rosen has said that the reason he was anxious t edit this book was to show the differences and the likenesses between the haves and those that have little or nothing. He wanted “to show not only what makes them so vastly different but also their romantic similarities”. In that he well succeeded and we have stories from the perspectives of both sides.
I urge you to avoid the negative review and rush to get a copy of this. I am sure that you will agree with me.