Book Reviews

His Lover. His God. by Darragha Foster at Victory Woman Press

Genre Gay / Fantasy / Reincarnation / Romance
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 30-November-2022

Book Blurb

To paraphrase Poe: They loved with a love that was more than love. Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, loved Antinous in life, and after his lover's death, worshipped him as his god. This is a romantic, fictionalized account of one of history's greatest love stories. Antinous refuses reincarnation until he can be fully reunited with Hadrian. Almost two thousand years pass before he returns to modern Egypt to profess his undying love to Hadrian's restored soul. Can Antinous, a god, on the 1892nd anniversary of his passing and ascent, convince an ex-pat tour guide that they belong together...again? 

Book Review

First: Time is a catalyst for change. Over the centuries our views of gay love have wavered from acceptance to repression and, thankfully, back at least toward broad acknowledgment. And for many years, references to “the love that dare not speak its name” resulted in censorship – only some scholars (and dirty-minded clergy) had entree to its many literary/historical examples. The Bible extols David’s love for Jonathan as more than of a love for a woman. Was it gay? Who are you asking? Homer posited the accepted fact that Achilles and Patroclus were lovers, and that the latter sacrificed his life to preserve Achilles’ reputation. But many Victorian school texts exorcised that. Sub rosa in idealization, over the centuries gays looked to the love between Hadrian and Antinous as the height of sexual and emotional commitment of men toward each other.


Next: Perhaps employing this review, consider whether ‘His Lover. His God.’ will be a worthwhile investment of your time. Among the mislaid beatitudes, surely was “Blessed are the novelettes, easy to ingest intellectually, whether piquant or cloying in substance.” Is it applicable here? Well – just keep you finger on “delete” so as to assuage any possible need for digestive aid!


This novelette approaches the style of a fable, modernized by easily moving between then and now. Is it historical? Sort of. Is it romantic? Perhaps, especially if self-sacrifice is erotically appealing. It does aim to teach and moralize, but whether it is truly successful requires that each reader, on completion, makes a personal assessment whether the understated sex and overstated romance are sufficient. (Example: “There was no escaping his love. And I never wanted to escape.”)


Some of the authorial devices are clever, many are humorous. Antinous’s conversations with the Agent for Reincarnation provide the author with opportunity to wryly comment on the world we now have. Warning Antinous to be careful when he is reincarnated, the agent advises Antinous to keep his divine state to himself, as the Abrahamic faiths are now in control – in which being gay is taboo. So, too – half kudos to author Foster for reinforcing the setting by the constant use of Latin words, but without any glossary (and with Kindle’s dictionary not providing real help), what are we to do with subligaria, or adiutor, or posca, puglio, aeneator. Decanus, dissignatore? *


* Glossary:


Subligaria - intricately folded cloth used as men’s or women’s underwear in Ancient Rome


Adiutor – a person who conducts an audit or a listener


Posca – a mixture of wine, vinegar and water


Aeneator – an ancient Roman military horn player


Puglio – a Roman dagger


Decanus – chief of ten in the Roman army, eventually ‘Dean’


Dissignatore – naming one to an official position, or picking a successor



And, here is another tweak to consider. Characters, in their own time, spoke colloquially – whether in Shakespeare or Homer. Poetry wasn’t eschewed, but a bartender or grocer sounded as one would expect – even with an occasional well-turned phrase thrown in. Reading author Foster’s characters is frequently going to cause a feeling of otologic italicization: the cadences and linguistics are out of sync even when the emotions and situations are timeless. But, once in a while the phraseology is right on mark: Hadrian, in his most deified mood – “I’m not afraid of the opinions of sheep. I am the wolf after all.” (Hey! Where were you during the primaries?)


The book is easy to read, is fast, and entertaining. All better so if done is one sitting.


Now, go and start a progressive religion, or flirt with a Swiss Army officer in Rome.






DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author via GRRT for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novella, 125 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 11-October-2022
Price $4.99 ebook, $11.99 paperback
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