In 1932, after Captain Joshua Pascal’s family loses its fortune, the Great War veteran’s sense of duty compels him to help his mother convert his childhood home into a Jewish boarding house. He’s lived openly as a homosexual among his friends, but now Joshua must pretend to be a “normal,” and hiding his nature is a lonely way of life. But in the middle of Chanukah, Joshua meets Will, a street musician with a ready smile, and wonders if he might deserve a chance at love.
During the cold December nights they find comfort in each other. But the specter of the workhouse and the possibility of family and personal ruin hang over them, making their every move dangerous. Which would they rather lose: their lives as they know them… or the promise of a future together?
I’ve noticed an almost surefire way to predict that I’ll love a romance novel. It’s not a requirement for me to enjoy the book, but if it happens, it’s almost certain I will.
Alas, this element is rare and hard to find. But I found it here: In the first chapter or two of the book, the protagonist has sex with someone who’s not the main love interest. And that’s when I knew this was the book for me.
Admittedly, the story would have been great even without that sex scene, but I have a theory about writers willing to go there in their work: they are invested in the individual characters as much as they are in the romance. They are willing to explore everything about the characters and what makes them tick. They’re ready to build two (or more) people who seem real, and aren’t merely convenient set pieces for moving a romance plot forward.
I loved this book. The Forgotten Man is a character-based romance steeped in period details of New York City in the Great Depression. As a romance, it’s slow to begin—we spend the first few chapters getting to know the protagonist and his family, and in fact I guessed the wrong person as the love interest and didn’t know I was wrong until about a third of the way into the book—but I never felt bored or like the story was dragging. Everything that gets introduced in those chapters is relevant later.
Once the romance starts, it moved a bit quickly for my taste, but it was the perfect pacing for the characters, so that was fine with me.
In case I didn’t say it loudly enough before, I loved it and would highly recommend, especially for readers on the look out for character- and mileau-based romance.
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You can buy The Forgotten Man directly from Dreamspinner (the publisher) or from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and a dozen other retailers.
You can also read this review on Goodreads.