This was known as the Frost Fair, where merchants hauled their wares onto the surface of the river, and citizens flocked to impromptu markets, drawn by the novelty and beauty of snow and the hastily-assembled stalls offering goods and food to the curious city dwellers. The final Frost Fair lasted four days in February, ; it provides the backdrop and opening Before the climate changed, Londoners were occasionally treated to a sporadic festival triggered by the freezing of the Thames River. The final Frost Fair lasted four days in February, ; it provides the backdrop and opening scenes for the book of the same name, authored by Erastes. With blond hair and blue eyes, he has a fair complexion; he is also fair and honest in his heart and his dealings, although he struggles with some secrets that he harbors in his soul, namely, his amorous desire for one of his clients and his need to occasionally prostitute himself to wealthy men he meets on Lad Lane, in order to make ends meet.

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Start your review of Last Gasp Write a review May 12, Leslie Nicoll rated it it was amazing Last Gasp, a series of four short novellas wherein we discover: four gay couples who struggle to find happiness during historical periods on the brink of change.

Take a trip back to s Hong Kong, Edwardian Syria, Yukon and Italy, and experience passion that will endure through the ages. The Stories: Tributary by Erastes Its and a generation of disaffected youth waits in the space between a war that destroyed many of their friends and family, and a war they know is bound to come. Last Gasp, a series of four short novellas wherein we discover: four gay couples who struggle to find happiness during historical periods on the brink of change.

The White Empire by Chris Smith Edgar Vaughan sincerely believes that six-thousand miles is enough to give him a fresh start. Escaping in from the drawing rooms of Belgravia and the constraints of his landed family, he takes up missionary work in the trading post of Hong Kong. On arrival, he finds the region on the cusp of war; the Chinese Emperor has outlawed the importation of opium — the key link in the trade of the East India Company.

He finds himself torn between espousing the expeditious whilst protecting his new acquaintance, and doing what is right and risking the wrath of the British Empire. Sand by Charlie Cochrane People come to Syria for many reasons; tourism, archaeology, or because they need to leave Edwardian England to escape potential disgrace.

Andrew Parks is one of those, burying past heartache and scandal among the tombs. Charles Cusiter has travelled here as well, as chaperone to a friend whose fondness for the opposite sex gets him into too much trouble at home.

The desert works its magic on Charles, softening his heart and drawing him towards Andrew. Not even a potentially fatal scorpion sting can overcome the power this strange land exerts. Amid the backdrop of this once pristine land, a man struggling against the destruction of his home and culture finds himself indebted to one of the men causing it.

These two strangers discover solace and wholeness where they least expect it: each other Review by Leslie H. Nicoll As others have noted, anthologies can be a hit or miss or affair but fortunately that is not the case with Last Gasp, which consists of four excellent short novels that will keep any historical fiction fan happy for several hours of entertaining reading. Although I enjoyed all four stories in Last Gasp, this one may edge out the others by a hair as my favorite.

It was the longest and the most complex in terms of plot, with a little mystery, some suspense, more than a bit of moral ambiguity and, of course, a romance. I think, too, I am partial to the s as a time period for a story so that added to my enjoyment. Taylor is a new, young, and very talented author and I was excited to see her story was included in this collection. Even so, the writing was classic Cochrane with her signature funny turns of phrase and amusing expressions.

Charles and Andrew quickly fall in love—some might feel a little too quickly, to the point of declaring themselves to each other and making what sounds like a lifetime commitment within days of meeting. Even so, I enjoyed this story very much and my little quibble is only a minor problem point in an overall excellent story.

Last, but not least although it is the first story in the book , Erastes once again seduced me with her prose. While some writers excel at dialogue—and Erastes does fine in that respect—I love her beautiful descriptions of her characters, their locales, and their activities.

Tributary did not disappoint. There was enough ambiguity to keep the story interesting and the uncertain future for the main characters certainly lived up to the premise of the entire collection—a world on the brink of change. As historicals, the details were magnificent. Each story quickly pulled me into its world and kept me there. The characterizations, too, were excellent. At the end of each short novel, I wanted to know more, wondering what happened to the characters and where they moved on in their lives together—or maybe apart.

All in all, it is easy to recommend this collection. The stories are full and rich and complete and made for a very satisfying reading experience. A definite keeper of four stories that I am sure to re-read.

Brava to the authors, for a job well done! These stories are universally well written, authentic, and make use of the time periods extraordinarily well.

The authors embrace the historical aspects instead of fighting against them as often historical stories seem to. The details feel natural and honest, using the time frames to the stories advantage. Several of these are on the cusp of great coming change so the emotion is already This is a collection of four historical short stories and the individual blurbs are available on the buy site. Several of these are on the cusp of great coming change so the emotion is already increased. The stories each feel different with their own merits and flaws, but come together to offer a solid, interesting collection.

Once there he encounters a professor and his assistant. Guy is immediately drawn to the assistant Louis, but everyone is keeping secrets. This initially reads like an intriguing love triangle with Louis as the fulcrum. Guy wants Louis and the Professor wants Louis. What Louis wants though is the question up to the very end of the story. The intrigue is low key but nice, keeping you guessing how the story will end. While the writing is smooth and engaging, the characters feel stiff and distant.

The characters also feel very muted and their emotions disconnected. I preferred the descriptions and details afforded from the sounds and scents to lingering warmth of sheets.

These small delights really made this story for me even as the characters failed to make me care about them. This story is less of a short story and more of a novella as it offers the longest length and the most character development and plot. The setting is Orient and the opium trade is the lingering sub plot.

Edgar, a priest, has decided to flee England to get away from his homosexual tendencies and ends up halfway around the world in Hong Kong. While there he meets an eclectic group of people at the missionary and becomes embroiled in a dangerous game with the Trade Advisor. The longer length makes this story one of the more interesting of the group, as it takes time to introduce and mature the various members of the cast. Edgar is a total snob, the second son of a wealthy man, and used to indulging his every whim.

The mystery aspect is interesting and I liked that Edgar does not arrive with his prejudices and save the day with his morals. The entire cast swings from depraved to indulgent and the writing is kind of comical during the sex scenes. After that lengthy selection, is the much shorter and most romantic offering Sand by Charlie Cochrane.

Here the main character Charles is accompanying a friend to Syria for an archeological dig. Andrew and Charles are rather typical characters of the author and her writing style feels familiar and comfortable.

This is a light hearted, easy read after the absorbing complexity of the last and a good change of pace. The characters are enjoyable with quick, recognizable banter that works for the story. They fall in love almost instantly, planning a future and ignoring any problems with an ease that is somewhat mind boggling but this does help make up for a distinct lack of romance to the collection.

The only qualm I had is that the references to sand being everywhere, which I can imagine and sympathize with, ended making me question the sex scenes. However, like the previous offerings this is another engaging, interesting story with a nice dose of romance fans will appreciate. Keeping with the tradition of foreigners in strange lands, American linguist Troy travels to Canada to study and interact with indigenous tribes.

He meets a native Mistrii and the two begin an odd companionship. This story is beautiful, savage, disturbing and lingers long after the last words. The vivid landscape is stunningly portrayed and beautifully captured in the descriptions.

The wildlife and their unique language is a reminder of nature in the starkest form. Mistrii and Troy feel like exaggerations of their environment to some extent. Mistrii willing to be killed than explain himself while Troy fumbles in his ignorance. Some of the subtly is lost in the extremes. However the connection between Troy and Mistrii is enjoyable and absorbing. I actually read this last story the fastest and appreciated the ending. Overall this is a very good anthology that can easily be read in one sitting.

The stories are engaging historicals, which is not always an easy feat, and feel true to their time periods. The details afforded each story are some of the best aspects and bring vivid descriptions alive with flourish. The romance is lacking in the stories and the endings feel temporary at best but not enough to diminish your enjoyment. It is s-British to the core; sort of a grand tour of distant lands while hauling along English-middleclass standards like a tortoises shell.

Guy Mason is this aloof, British middleclass traveler in a foreign land Italy , but who still insists on dressing for dinner and having his English beer. Honour is very high on the priority list as well, and having seen active service in the Great This story reads like an art-deco illustration—clean lines and decorated with fashionably beautiful people.

Guy Mason served his time shuffling papers at Whitehall, but he nonetheless has the title of Captain. Unfortunately Louis Chambers was too young to serve, and this almost destroys a relationship with Mason. Enough said, except that this story is a faithful reproduction of a nostalgic era, filled with style and grace that—regretfully—is gone forever. On arrival, he finds the region on the cusp of war; the Chinese Emperor has outlawed the importation of opium -- the key link in the trade of the East India Company.

Nevertheless, it should be seen—as the author has suggested—in a context when capitalism, the monarchy and imperial government were virtually the same forces, and very often the same people.

Albeit, Chris Smith has ably captured the arrogance that accompanied white, British middleclass arrivals in their relationships with native nationals all over the world.

Being set a year before the first, therefore, this story admirably tells us why. It has tension, yes, but mostly it is about love—period. Superbly written, the setting is colourful; the characters are well-developed and interesting, and story leaves you with a nice, warm afterglow. These two strangers discover solace and wholeness where they least expect it: each other.

Moreover, some of the ideas and beliefs are too complex for a broken-English dialogue. I also appreciated it for the Canadian content.


Frost Fair by Erastes

Historical background[ edit ] One of the earliest accounts of the Thames freezing comes from AD , when it was frozen solid for six weeks. As long ago as the river was open to wheeled traffic for trade and the transport of goods for 13 weeks; in , it lasted for 14 weeks. In England, when the ice was thick enough and lasted long enough, Londoners would take to the river for travel, trade and entertainment , the latter eventually taking the form of public festivals and fairs. The Thames was broader and shallower in the Middle Ages — it was yet to be embanked , meaning that it flowed more slowly.


River Thames frost fairs



Frost Fair



Erastes (author)


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