Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster secretly watched stable master Patrick Callahan mastering the groundskeeper, he's longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death, Colin speaks up in his defense, announcing that he, too, is guilty of "the love that dare not speak its name." Soon they're both condemned as convicts and shipped off to the faraway prison colony of Australia. Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale and is determined that no one will scale the wall he's built around his heart. Yet he's inexorably drawn to the charismatic Colin despite his best efforts to keep him at bay. As their journey extends from the cramped and miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must build new lives for themselves. They'll have to tame each other to find happiness in this wild new land.
This is a breathtaking story taking place in the mid 1800's, beginning in England and ending in the Australian Outback.
The two main characters are as different as it can be. Colin Lancaster is a very young man, over protected by his wealthy parents, who is rather shy and appears fragile. Patrick, the stable master, is an Irish, independent older man who has become hard and bitter. Somebody broke his heart when he was a young lad.
Colin has a crush on him, since he was a boy. At that time, he witnessed him and another young man having sex. From that moment on Colin is unable to forget it and only tries to deny the obvious, terrifying by his feelings. To his horror he wishes it could have been him. After that he does everything to avoid the stable master.
Some years later Patrick is caught in the act with somebody else. Colin does a very brave but a very foolish thing to save him, he tells family and friends he is himself a sodomite. They are both condemned to transportation. After that, begins a great adventure!
The long journey in the convicts ship is extremely well depicted from the horrible lack of privacy, to the danger and diseases. Against all odds, Colin doesn't collapse under that appalling situation. Little by little they are even able to bond during this ordeal.
In Australia they are both allocated to a young widow who lost her husband during the crossing. After that we can see Colin and Patrick relationship develop, despite Patrick reluctance. As Colin grows into manhood, hopeful and courageous, Patrick will have to let go of the past and embrace the present.
There is an interesting plot behind their story and another love story between the widow and an Australian guide who joined the little group on the road later. There is lots of dust, sun, unfriendly insects and animals, hardship and hard work for them all and a final twist... before a very satisfying happy ending.
I really loved this book. I give it a 5/5.
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