Review posted at The Armchair Reader. Plakcy, though I really only know his most recent romance work instead of his earlier gay mystery series.
Who Was Our First Gay President?
His Have Body, Will Guard series is one of my all time favorites and I love to re-read it -- it's a classic gay adventure story. And thought I've not read all the shorts, I've liked quite a few of his South Beach novels.
This novel diverges in some ways from those recent works, but in many ways remains similar. Fans of those Review posted at The Armchair Reader. Fans of those books might find this somewhat not to their taste simply because of the romance within, but I found that what I most liked about the novel was Jeff's own story, which takes the forefront in the plot. While antiquing with his best friend and co-professor Naomi, 19th Century History professor Jeff Berman stumbles upon a forgotten and secret piece of history -- a long lost box of correspondence between President James Buchanan and his aide, Roland Petitjohn.
At first, the letters seem benign and frankly boring, concerning matters of state, but with further observation reveal a startling relationship that lasted over twenty years. Though there's no proof of a homosexual affair, the extremely personal correspondence leads Jeff to make that connection, especially with corroborating evidence that the aide's Quaker beliefs might have affected Buchanan's outlook on slavery.
Finding the letters is a historian's dream, though not only for the historical importance. Jeff hasn't yet made tenure and is over halfway there until he's up for review, and his University leans heavily on faculty to research and publish. The long-lost love affair could be his ticket to cushy professorship and the life he's always wanted to lead.
But, researching, writing, and publishing the book don't mean much -- he needs some kind of publicity. That's where Pascal Montrouge comes in. Jeff doesn't know Pascal's history or disgraced reputation when he first interviews him for the Times-Courier , he only knows that Pascal is sexy, confident and he hasn't had sex in a very long time. Could Pascal be the man to sweep him off his feet? Pascal is like a thunderstorm that comes in and carries him away into publicity stardom, but is it all glitz and glamour with nothing underneath? And is Jeff just a meal-ticket for Pascal to resurrect his dying career?
If I hadn't really liked Jeff and his own solitary plotline of research into Buchanan, the politicking of the History department, and his own progression in life, then I would have rated this book even lower. Sadly, the romance in this novel felt lackluster to me. It's a much more real-to-life romance in tone and plot than most, and it isn't the center of the story, though neither is it shunted to the side very much.
Still, I have a very hard time forgiving characters who I've felt have made grievous errors and I never really warmed up again to Pascal after he [early on in the story] wrongs Jeff in a bad way. The way the story was handled in response to that choice the author made for Pascal was done in all the right ways. It would have been out of character for Pascal to really grovel as much as would have secretly pleased me, and Plakcy didn't try to push an overly sweet HEA on us in the end.
I have nothing to really criticize about the romantic plot here, with the exception that I just couldn't see happiness for these guys. The real work on their relationship is left for after the story ends, when they'll have to slog through and work on Pascal's problems that made him a dick in the first place, and it's just one of those things that I won't believe until I see.
While those problems made this a book that won't ever be a favorite from Mr. Plakcy's catalogue for me, I still enjoyed much of the rest of the story. There is actually quite a bit of detail about the story between Buchanan and his aide, even the "original" letters written and interspersed throughout the story.
Letter by James Buchanan - WallBuilders
I quite liked seeing Jeff's historical research and the writing of his book, and even some of the politicking in his department later in the book. Once Jeff's book takes hold in the media he starts to see the life he's planned for himself in a new light. His co-workers are somewhat different, the teaching is different. He's being made into a "gay historian" and he wavers about how he really feels about being pigeonholed that way. I really like character growth stories and though they're more rare among romance, where the partnership instead tends to be the focus of the growth, I found Jeff's life quest satisfying.
Pascal's place in his life goes in and out as the story progresses. There are times where he's not present for large chunks of time, and because of how I never warmed up to them as a couple, I admit I enjoyed those times a bit more. Whenever Jeff would be with Pascal, I could never quite decide that he wasn't lowering his standards because he wanted to fall in love more than he wanted Pascal. In the first letter, the Commissioners wrote to President Buchanan to give him a copy of the Ordinance of Secession and ask him to withdrawal federal troops from Charleston harbor.
In this letter , President Buchanan replies by refusing to remove the troops. He explains to the South Carolina Commissioners his inability under the U. Constitution to resolve any disagreements with Congress, but states his intention of upholding his constitutional duty to protect the property of the United States, including Fort Sumter, if it is attacked. Although the attack on Fort Sumter would not occur for four more months, this exchange between the Commissioners and President Buchanan illustrates the significance of federal troops in Charleston in the initiation of armed combat between the two sides.
I feel that it is not good for man to be alone; and should not be astonished to find myself married to some old maid who can nurse me when I am sick, provide good dinners for me when I am well, and not expect from me any very ardent or romantic affection. King was its only bachelor vice president. King died in How would Wheatland present both his record as a leader and his affection for King? It simultaneously slams him and sanitizes him.
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James Buchanan bought Wheatland in , and he lived the last 20 years of his life there, less some time in London and the White House. No one cares. He delivered only two speeches: one to accept his nomination, one to accept the presidency. Both were delivered from the front porch of Wheatland.
Letter from James Buchanan to Joseph C. G. Kennedy
James Buchanan was either phenomenally entitled or stupendously brilliant at playing hard-to-get. He stayed home, he enjoyed his flowers. He was also He was also the ultimate insider: a former lawyer, a former Pennsylvania representative, Congressman, Senator, Secretary of State, and ambassador to both Russia and France. Hold on tight! He thought slavery was immoral. During his life, he was known to go down South, buy slaves, take them up north, and release them. Much attention is directed to the lavishness of his meals, the delicacy of his china a gift from France , his rococo writing desk, the signed lithograph of the young Queen Victoria.
As the wealthy bachelor uncle of the family, he stepped up for the younger members.
- Renew Your Mind.
- Obituary: Ralph M. Buchanan.
- Personal Letter of James Buchanan to a Close Friend, Asking Her Assistance | The Raab Collection.
- How to Write.
- The Human Side of Nursing: A Short Story Collection (Nursing in the Neighborhoods: Stories of Patients, Families, and Their Nurses Book 1).
- Frame, Display, Preserve.
He had no wife and children, but his family was his longtime housekeeper, who ended up being with him for 38 years by the time he died, his niece, and his nephew. Eventually, his other nieces and nephews were in his charge. No comment. The s were a different time.
Having all those nieces and nephews was given as a reason for his being single.
Not once is his 13 years with King mentioned. Wheatland misses so many chances to simply state the facts and let decisions fall. Because he had no romantic female partner in his life, Harriet served as the de facto First Lady when Buchanan ascended to the White House. After he died in Wheatland in , he left it to Harriet. The next year, the tours began. In , three decades before Wheatland, he had a brief engagement to a rich girl, Ann Coleman. Everyone in town noticed he paid nearly no attention to her during courtship, and it was widely assumed he just wanted her money.
Whatever Buchanan did to her must have been bad, because her father banned Buchanan from the funeral. Subsequently, he threw himself into politics—his bachelorhood became a key to his success. Maybe , people would have lived if a better President had been elected to avert the slaughter.
Did You Know?
He was a strong family man. But probably a failure as a president. Hearing that, the other people on the tour turned toward the guide expectantly.
They burned most of the letters. But a lot of men did that in those days. As someone pointed out, Abraham Lincoln lived with other men, and as a matter of fact, he used to sleep in the same bed with other men in the Summer White House. He went on.
Related The Buchanan Letters
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