The Jouster’s Lance
Title : The Jouster’s Lance
Series : A Ren Faire Romance
Author : A.J. Marcus
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 212 pages (e-book)
Published : May 3, 2013
Dale O’Toole, aka Diederik, the Demon Duke of Denmark, takes his Renaissance festivals seriously. He has been on the jousting circuit for five years and enjoys his gypsy lifestyle, traveling to faires around the country. It’s fun and he has good friends.
Austin Renfro has worked in a pirate gift shop at the Colorado Renaissance Festival for several years but has a life outside the medieval fantasy world. When Austin spies Dale during the first joust of the season, he knows he must find a way to meet him, even if the jousters and royal cast don’t normally associate with the working class.
Their first chance meeting causes more than a little embarrassment for both men, but they don’t let that stop them. They try to let their budding love find its place while keeping it from becoming common knowledge. But when a particularly conservative knight catches them in flagrante, it’s bound to cause problems. After all, jousts are dangerous….
I am rather nerdy. Over the years I’ve read lots and lots of science fiction, I’ve seen every Star Trek and most every episode of Dr. Who, and I’ve engaged in role playing games and heard things like, “Come on, you guys can kill 9 ogres.” We couldn’t. I’ve also been involved in some historical recreations in my time. I draw the line at L.A.R.P. I’m so not going there! So, when I saw The Jouster’s Lance, by AJ Marcus, I knew I would want to read it. It’s the story of Dale O’Toole, a jouster who portrays the character of Diederik, the Demon Duke of Denmark. He goes to a Renaissance Faire in Colorado to replace their injured dark knight. Dale takes his horses and travels from Texas to his new summer job and gets cut off on the road by a long haired guy in a black jeep. Dale adores his horses and hates anything that annoys them. It really upsets Dale a couple days later when someone trips and hits one of his horses with a pole!
Austin Renfro embarrasses himself when he trips and hits the gorgeous new dark knight’s horse with a pole! Eventually he apologizes to the very drunk Dale and gets kissed by him right before he falls asleep. They do manage to get together and start some romance but have to keep it very quiet. It’s not okay to be openly gay in the very conservative area. When the guys get caught gettin’ busy in the bathroom they think the white knight, John Bishop, didn’t see enough to realize Dale was involved. John is exceedingly homophobic and it wouldn’t be great to work with the guy after he found out. A week later they realize just how wrong they were.
I really enjoyed this book despite some plot holes. What is portrayed as an area hostile to homosexuality rapidly becomes portrayed as okay with it. Only one character, someone portrayed as crazy and an overzealous Christian Evangelical, isn’t okay with homosexuality. The Faire and the surrounding area were also plagued by a series of unfortunate events. Some of them fires that were most likely arson, some of them simple mistakes, some of them could have been malicious attempts at sabotage. I felt the events were portrayed as connected yet nothing was ever made of them. Even a large fire at the end remains a mystery. Is this the set up for another book in what could be a series or just a loose plot string? Either way, it felt unresolved.
Overall the book was fun. The characters were happy to enter into a new and serious relationship despite their personal fears and different lifestyles. I also just like the backstage look at Ren Faires as a business. These are actors and athletes following a script. Despite dangers they’re doing crazy stuff with the safety of the people and animals involved at the forefront of their minds. Many of them are also traveling across the country following work. It can be both invigorating and exhausting. I also enjoyed a lot of the banter between the characters. Yeah, the title of the book refers to exactly what you think it does.
Rated 3.5 stars by Faye