Book Reviews

In Axminster Workhouse (Oliver & Jack 3) by Jackie North at Blue Rain Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 07-July-2022

Book Blurb

After a blissful seaside interlude, Oliver and Jack are arrested for theft and sent to Axminster Workhouse. They are put in the less-than-tender care of Workmaster Chalenheim, who controls the work they do, the food they eat, and the punishments they must endure.

Oliver struggles with the shame of being in a place he thought he’d left behind long ago. Meanwhile, Jack is confronted by a predator who tests the limits of Jack’s love for Oliver.

They must escape the workhouse before they succumb to the harsh conditions or are separated by the hangman’s noose, whichever comes first.


Book Review

“Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever.” – Roy T. Bennett


The closer Oliver and Jack, of 'In Axminster Workhouse', get to Axminster Workhouse, the more withdrawn Oliver becomes. Jack realizes that Oliver had a horrible time at a workhouse in the past but can't imagine that it could be "that" bad. Until he learns that it's much worse.


Oliver tries to acclimate Jack to the reality of their situation by teaching him "the rules”. Oliver tells Jack the best way to survive is to be as "invisible" as possible. Not drawing any attention to yourself gives them less reason to punish you. Even though Oliver tries his best to follow this course, their workmaster is cruel and unforgiving and decides to make an example of him. He whips Oliver unmercifully, causing him a great deal of pain. It kills Jack to stand by and watch it happen, but anything Jack may do would make things infinitely worse.


Jack can't believe the level of cruelty that occurs at Axminster. Residents are starved, beaten, given nearly impossible tasks to complete, and threatened with inconceivable punishment for the merest, actual, or imagined infractions. The staff seems indifferent at best and complicit in the suffering of the residents, seeing them as less than human, therefore, unworthy of human kindness of any sort. When their workmaster decides he wants Jack with a promise of better treatment, Jack is appalled and refuses, causing the workmaster to double down on his efforts to punish Jack by taking his wrath out on Oliver. Finally, to save Oliver, Jack gives in to the indecent proposal. 


When Oliver finds out what Jack has agreed to, he is furious. Oliver doesn't know how, but he is determined to find a way out of that horrible place if it is the last thing he does. Oliver will not let "his Jack" degrade himself like that, not even for him.


'In Axminster Workhouse' is the third book in the 'Oliver & Jack' series. Each story is more intense than the next as Jack and Oliver's relationship evolves. Even though they find a middle ground in their world views, they have gained respect for each other's approach, at least sometimes. Thanks, Jackie. I can hardly wait for the next book.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book was purchased by the reviewer.


Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 506 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 21-June-2022
Price $4.99 ebook, $18.99 paperback
Buy Link