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Fagin's Boy (Oliver & Jack #1) by Jackie North

@Archaeolibrary, @JackieNorthMM, #Victorian,

#Historical, #MM, #Romance,

In 1846 London, respectable young men do not fall for street thieves. This is the love story of Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger.

Oliver Twist has one desire: to own a bookshop and live a simple, middle-class life, far away from his workhouse-shadowed past. One thing stands in his way: Jack Dawkins--The Artful Dodger--who's just returned to London and is looking for Fagin’s old gang.

Jack's visits cause Oliver nothing but trouble, but he finds himself drawn, time and again, to their shared past, Jack's unguarded honesty, and those bright, green eyes.

Oliver craves respectability, which he won’t find with a forbidden love. Can Jack convince Oliver that having one doesn't mean losing the other?

A gay, m/m Victorian-era romance with grumpy/sunshine, hurt/comfort, opposites attract, emotional scars, and pure, sweet love. A little sweet, a little steamy, with a guaranteed HEA.

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3 out of 5 (good)

FAGIN'S BOY is the first book in the Oliver and Jack series, and as you may have gathered, it follows on from Oliver Twist. Oliver is now seventeen and the story starts with him attending the funeral of the man who took him in and looked after him, Mr Brownlow. Not knowing what will happen to him next, Oliver takes on an apprenticeship at a haberdashery, hoping it will give him experience for when he opens his own, long-dreamed about, bookstore.

Jack has just returned to London after being hextricated to Australia. I had to suspend belief a little here as I've never heard of that happening before. He is still the cheeky chappie you may recognise, but is altogether more fragile and hard. A paradox, for sure. He reminded me of a piece of flint.

Anyway, the story follows Oliver and Jack for a few months as circumstances change for Oliver. I thought the descriptions of the the living conditions, plus how the children are treated from the workhouse, to be definitely in keeping with the original book by Dickens, as well as what was hinted at in the musical film.

Whilst Jack revelled in his circumstances, he was also desperate for stories about those he remembers. This leads him to a friendship with Noah, who Oliver doesn't like or trust. Oliver, on the other hand, wants more than he has right now. He wants his bookshop. He doesn't want to steal. He would like Jack to be with him but is prepared to make a break if Jack doesn't want to come.

There is a HFN ending to this first book and I am sure there will be plenty more adventures for our twosome. Although I have read and enjoyed other historical books by Ms North, I can't honestly say I enjoyed this one as much and I'm not sure why. All of the ingredients were there but, for me, they just didn't mix as well as I had expected. I am glad I have read this book and would recommend to anyone with an interest in Oliver Twist and the hard, grimy Victorian times.

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *


Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

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