Come Unto These Yellow Sands
by Josh Lanyon
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Pub Date 31 May 2021 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2021
Once a bad boy, the only lines Professor Sebastian Swift does these days are Browning, Frost and Cummings.
When a student he helped to disappear becomes a suspect in a murder, he races to find the boy and convince him to give himself up before his police chief lover figures out he's involved.
Max likes being lied to even less than he likes sonnets. Yet his instincts--and his heart--tell him his boyfriend is being played and a dangerous enemy may not stop until Swift is heading up his own dead poet's society.
A Note From the Publisher
Reformatted reissue of 2011 release through Samhain Publishing
It is difficult to write a character whose addiction is convincing and have the reader believe both in his redemption and an HEA for the romance, but you pull it off in this novel. Swift is a fascinating character; his weaknesses and his strengths seem so intertwined, as if they flow from the same personality traits. When I reached the end of the book it was hard to let him go, but I'm confident that his future will offer him not just contentment but happiness.
Sunita for Dear Author - A Recommended Read
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 26 members
I received this as an ARC but my opinion is my own.
First, I've read this before. I thought it was a new release but it's clearly a reissue. Thankfully it's been enough time that I didn't remember who had dunnit, as they say.
This is classic Josh lanyon. I loved it. I was invested in the main characters and their relationship and it's lovely. I like that you can see both points of view and understand where they're coming from so you end up rooting for both of them. There's a grittiness to this, an acknowledgement of weakness and that we are none of us perfect. The mystery takes a back seat to what we learn about the characters and family relationships and the scenery. I could see this being a movie and I'd watch it.
oh Swift Swift Swift. my heart hurts so much for you. a recovering addict, surrounded by people disliking and bringing him down, with no support from anyone, and being unsure of the only intimate relationship present with the police chief/fuck-buddy Max, is it love? then thrown into a drama where the student he kindly help might be involved in a murder. just heartache reading this.
and Max oh Max, it's abit hard to like at first, but his bits of actions before the drama and after the argument, made up for it. and him being there and supportive to Swift is just, everything Swift needed. so it works out.
i wish we had more moments of them together, more of them after the drama too.
i love Josh's writing so much, it sucks you in instantly! and this is no different. the mysteries was just nice and keeps you on your toes! (that was unexpected! i wasn't expecting that person! it was so twisted.)
Swift, the only child of two literary icons, had nearly every moment of his childhood documented in film and poetry.
"It was a peculiar thing to grow up in the public eye. It was a still weirder thing to serve as the living, breathing form of inspiration for two of the greatest poets in North America." [...] No wonder Swift had been doing drugs by the time he was seventeen.
That drug addiction nearly killed him, left him estranged from his mother, mourning the death of his adored father and denied access to his trust fund. "There was nothing like having friends, family and your health-care professionals go on the record that they did not believe you were (or ever would be) competent to manage your own business affairs - and then having a judge agree."
But Swift has hung onto his sobriety by the skin of his teeth, and his relationship with Max - Police Chief Max Prescott - has kept him grounded (and very sexually satisfied). But when one of his students, a battered and bruised Tad Corelli, asks for help and a place to get away for a while, Swift gives him aid ... only to learn that Tad's father has been murdered and that his actions of helping Tad evade arrest may have severed his relationship with Max forever.
Sure, the murder keeps the drama going, but at the heart of the story is Swift and the theme of perception. Swift thinks his relationship with Max is casual yet he wants so much more, Swift was unaware that his job at the university at times had been hanging by a thread, Swift has a real problem understanding how he is perceived by others, there is the perception by some that Swift will always be nothing more than an addict, and the murder mystery hinges on perceptions about various suspects that are encouraged by someone. We have conscious and unconscious perceptions about others that color the facts and can hide the truth.
The more I think of this book, the more it becomes. It is really a touching story about a man living with addiction and finding the one person who can see beyond preconceptions and really be there for him and love him. 5 stars all the way.
I enjoyed reading this very well plotted and crafted story . Come Unto These Yellow Sands is a very different and original mystery romance.
Loved the heroes , Sebastian Swift and Chief of Police Max . as a couple and individually. I understood and felt a connection with Swift almost from the start ...the way his mind works , it's fascinating to me. Their relationship and dynamics were unique for a romance book .yet , so normal and organic . They felt so real to me.
This is a very entertaining and witty story. I am sure I will be rereading again.
I just reviewed Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon.#ComeUntoTheseYellowSands #NetGalley
Strange that I didn’t read this novel earlier, given that I’m such a huge fan of Josh Lanyon’s writing. It somehow never popped up on my radar although Josh published it in 2012 if I’m not mistaken, and this is but the reformatted 2021 release. Whatever the reasons for me not having noticed it before, I’m really happy to have picked it up now via NetGalley, because the read was a real treat.
The book centres on Sebastian Swift, son of two renowned American poets, himself a once successful poet and rising star of his generation of writers. For reasons that are left deliberately vague to allow the readers to fill in their own details, Sebastian became addicted to cocaine, however, blowing his writing career and almost blowing his whole life. After his umpteenth stay in rehab, he finally managed to get back on track. Now in his late thirties/early forties, he is teaching at Casco Bay College in Southern Maine. He even found a lover, sort of: the small town’s police chief Max Prescott. Theirs is a no-strings-attached, no-commitment relationship, which if it seems to suit them both leaves Sebastian slightly… wanting. He has the impression his feelings and his dedication are much stronger than Max’s, who is apparently not looking for more than convenient companionship.
One day, Tad Corelli, one of the most gifted students taking part in the Lighthouse residency program Sebastian oversees, shows up in his office, looking shaken and bearing the signs of someone who has just been beaten up. He tells Sebastian he needs to go away for a while, dodges his questions, and begs him not to throw him out of the program. Recognizing his younger, tortured self in the troubled boy’s features, Sebastian accepts and even gives him the keys to the isolated island house he inherited from his father. That evening, however, Max informs him that a local restaurant owner was killed on the beach—none other than Mario Corelli, Tad’s notoriously irate father. Although gossip abounds immediately—some whisper about the mob being involved, others point in turns at Corelli’s ambitious second wife, who’s running for mayor, at the current mayor himself, even at Corelli’s first wife—the police think their best lead is Corelli’s son. His strained relationship with his father was common knowledge, after all, and there are witnesses who heard the young man threaten that he would kill his father. His sudden disappearance right after the murder spells guilt in capital letters. Sebastian knows he should tell his lover about his conversation with Tad and the latter’s probable whereabouts, but something holds him back. Probably his firm conviction that Tad is innocent. He decides to ask some questions instead and suddenly finds himself thrown into the middle of the murder investigation, which jeopardizes everything he has been fighting for these last years: his relationship, his new career, even his hard-achieved victory over his addiction…
Sebastian Swift—a character who held me in his thrall from page one till the end. A tortured mind with a difficult past and demons aplenty that he kept struggling with every waking minute, or so it seemed. His character remained subtle, his fight never becoming some pathetic big-time drama, and Josh created and treated him with empathetic psychological insight. He was just a man trying to keep his head above the churning waters of life—life being something he was very ill equipped to deal with, hence his addiction. He was that sort of endearing character living in his own bubble rather than in reality that awakened my “motherly” feelings; I wanted to hug him and cradle him and tell him everything would be all right. But make no mistake—under his apparent frailty, he turned out to be tougher and stronger than I would have suspected, plus he was well-read and really smart (always a sexy touch).
At first I didn’t know what to make of his odd relationship or of Max, whom I rather disliked on first sight. I’m aware he perfectly fits the description of Josh’s favorite trope where the “romantic interests” of the (softer, sweeter) main characters are concerned—they are always their exact opposite (and, I suspect, something Josh is rather attracted to). Taciturn, no-nonsense, often commitment-shy, outwardly strong, broad-shouldered and broad-chested men’s men; nigh übervirile hunks who we always need to get to know better before understanding (and liking) them. As the going gets tough and Sebastian is openly targeted by whoever committed the murder, Max finally realizes his feelings go deeper than thought, and he stands by his man, no questions asked (more or less; he’s the police chief, so of course he asks questions).
All in all, I think it’s this perfect blend of murder investigation (a classical whodunnit) and the parallel development both of the main characters and their relationship that made this such an enjoyable, even intriguing read. I went from “poor Sebastian and crappy lover” to “oh, they do love each other” to a final, contented sigh. What made this journey so interesting was the fact that nothing was simplistic (not even simple) and that I could sense their road would remain bumpy and difficult even after the denouement of the murder mystery. But at the same time, the mutual commitment someone as romantically inclined as I always hopes for was there and let me foresee more harmony than the book started out with. The murder investigation itself was cleverly woven, with twists and turns and a final culprit I didn’t see coming, yet not so implausible that I would name that person a deux ex machina, which is a cheap writing trick I never really warm up to.
So yes, nine years after the novel’s original release, I finally read it, loved it, and hereby recommend it wholeheartedly. A millésime, a very fine vintage Lanyon, if I may say so.
This is a book you need to take with you to a cosy corner with a cup of tea and spend hours blissfully savouring every word of it. As always Josh Lanyon did not disappoint with another beautifully written slow burn romance and an amazing murder mystery story.
Getting to know the characters so intimately; their history, their lifestyle, their dreams and hopes was such a joyful experience.
Swift is a poet who spends his days grading papers as a college professor. He hasn’t written any poetry in years and though he’s an ex-addict, he has managed to stay clean for the past 6 years.
Swift is a romantic and he regretfully believes his relationship with Max, the town’s police chief has lost its momentum to become something more.
Max’s world is black and white and he could be judgmental at times as his job demands him to be. After three years of seeing each other, he is still a mystery to Swift but that hasn’t stopped the professor to secretly lose his heart to him.
When a student shows up at his office door, Swift’s doesn’t hesitate to offer him help. But his simple act of kindness is proved to be not so simple after all when the student turns out to be the prime suspect in a murder investigation.
The story is engaging and keeps you guessing till the end. The CYOAs at beginning of the chapters are a nice touch.
With the main focus on mystery, sometimes readers feel starved for more romance between MCs but in this book there’s a perfect balance between mystery, love, sex and even humour that got me to chuckle a few times.
Swift: “I’m serious. Use me for bait.”
Max: “Remember that thing about impaired judgment? Here’s an example.”
Swift: “Do you really know what catalexis is?”
Max: “Not a clue. I heard you mention it once. It stuck in my memory because it sounds like a cross between a Cadillac and a Lexus.”
Josh Lanyon and The Adrian English Mysteries are the reasons I got to experience the joy of slow-burn romance and fall in love with it.
I love this writing style. It creates a relationship, a bond, between me, as the reader and the fictional characters. They go under my skin and I feel them and care for them deeply. So deeply that I miss them when the story is finished. I can’t help but going back to them again and again just to enjoy their company and that is the type of book worth reading.
Thank you, NetGalley for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
When I first found this book, the title intrigued me a lot and I'm glad I took it up. The writing style of this book is not what I usually read but I got hang of it quickly and still enjoyed it! The mystery, romance and everything else was written in a really interesting manner and it did not fail to mesmerize me. This book focuses on Swift, a former drug addict who is in a *friends with benefits* kind of relationship with Max, the police chief. When Tad Corelli, a student asks Swift for a place to stay, the murder comes in and things just change, more than they ever did. As the mystery part develops, we can see the relationship between Swift and Max develop too. I just loved it! Thank you for the arc, NetGallery. :)
I haven't read a lot of Josh Lanyon's work, but what I have read I have always liked. I would have to say that "Come Unto These Yellow Sands" is my favorite so far! This book has all the things that I love in a book: great characters, great writing, and a good plot.
This book is categorized as a M/M romance, but I would argue that it's just a great book that happens to have gay characters. I'm hopeful one day that we won't have to categorize books by the sexual orientation of the characters. Until then though, this is a great m/m romance that is also a fantastic book.
Professor Sebastian Swift is a lot of things. He's a poet who can't seem to write, feels the pressure of being the son of famous poets, and he's a recovering addict. Swift loves Choose Your Own Adventure books and teaching and his comfortable (yet casual) relationship with Wolfe Neck Police chief, Max Prescott.
When one of Sebastian's students turns up on his office doorstep looking like he's been beaten, Sebastian follows his heart and sends the young man to his cabin for safety. The problem is that soon, it becomes clear that Sebastian's student may be involved in a murder.
This is when dating the police chief becomes a real problem for Sebastian. He has inadvertently been lying to Max… and when the truth comes out it's a real issue.
What I really enjoyed about this book was the character development. The characters in this story are well-crafted. There is a true exploration of the growth of a relationship and the way that it ebbs and flows. I became really invested in the relationship between Sebastian and Max.
Lanyon has capture "recovery" in an authentic way. Being in recovery is never an easy thing and Sebastian still struggles from time to time. It's something that he must be aware of - and it's also something that he's conscious of around his police officer partner. Max isn't judgemental at all when it comes to Sebastian's past drug use, and I enjoyed the way that he supported Sebastian when asked. It's all written very respectfully and accurately.
The plot is great - there's enough of a mystery to keep you guessing as the story progresses. I particularly enjoyed the way that Lanyon wove the story elements in cleverly giving the main characters challenges and hurdles that would, ultimately, help to determine the course of their relationship.
This book really worked for me. I absolutely enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone.
// MINOR SPOILER WARNING//
Previously, I had never read literature from this author; Josh Lanyon. However, from now on this will not be the case. The story of "Come Unto These Yellow Sands" truly proves that both eroticism and emotion can be harbored in a single book. This work of fiction follows the life of Sebastian Swift, whos a literary professor in a small-town college. Personally, I think the relationship developed with Swift was absolutely astounding. As one continues reading, one begins to learn about his past and its complexities. Such as his distant drug abuse, and the struggle he still has fighting the yearn for narcotics. Swift's much-needed distraction took its main form in Max Prescott, the town's local police chief. Mimicking troubled tides, their relationship was not as set as Swift hoped it to be. While Swift wanted to settle down, and actually let their love marinate, it seemed all Max wanted was the occasional fling. While reading, I began to notice how troublesome their relationship really is. For example, one can notice how in early chapters, where the tension was high, Max took a fatherly role with Swift... Not in a good way. He spent those chapters scolding Swift over all his decisions, of which were made during a stressful time, and not sympathizing with someone whose world was quite literally imploding. From the fact that his job at the university, which fulfilled his need for literature, was drifting away, to being dragged into a murder, it is safe to say that Swift needed that support from Max. However, the reader can see that eventually, Max's character did evolve and he became the encouragement Swift wished.
Upon reading this book, and noticing Swift's various relationships, I also realized the bipolar connection he has with literature itself. How he associated his writings with the drugged tracked mind; the quick buck to shoot up. The moment I truly understood how distant he seemed from this passion was when I read the moment where he bit into a simple cherry tomato. How the acidic juices would've sparked the will to write poem after poem, but instead he finds said tomato fulfilling. While I am all for enjoying the simple things in life, this thought of his saddened me. I could not imagine yearning to do something so much, yet every time I tried it reminded me of one of my lowest times in life. I'm sure many other readers would agree that this put into perspective how Swift is still troubled by his past.
Again, I truly loved this book and would recommend it to any avid reader. 10/10 stars :)))
Professor Sebastian Swift, a former bad boy and now a respected professor in Maine, is in a semi-relationship with Police Chief Max Prescott. Swift is fully committed, but feels that Max is on his way out of the relationship. Swift is also a recovering cocaine addict, and while far removed from the days of his wild youth, he is still sympathetic to bright and troubled souls like Tad Corelli, one of his students. He provides a battered Tad with shelter in an attempt to pay forward the kindness that he himself had received as a troubled youth and finds himself at loggerheads with Max, who considers Tad the primary suspect in a murder.
Max takes a very dim view of Swift's attempts to help Tad, and it looks like it is the end of their relationship. Swift has to try to find Tad and bring him in in an effort save his failing relationship with Max. Recovery of cocaine from Swift's apartment seems to drive the wedge between them further as Max has very decided opinions on addiction and addicts.
The whodunit actually takes second place to the drama unfolding between Swift and the seemingly intractable and judgemental Max, and yet keeps the reader engaged in the narrative. Swift's fear of relapsing into cocaine addiction and its potential effect on his personal and professional life engages the reader's sympathy.
The highlight of the novella is the revelation of Max's character and level of commitment to Swift, which starts to become apparent only about halfway into the narrative. It is difficult to relate to Max at first, and the reader's sympathy naturally gravitates to Swift, but the latter portions of the book allow Max to shine as a strong, principled and supportive character. This book is definitely one that is destined for my "Read Multiple Times" shelf.
Thanks to NetGalley for making a temporary copy of the book available for review.
poets were mostly interested in death and commas.
However, for Swift (probably Lanyon's least Adrien-like MC), he was mostly interested in three things: Police Chief Max Prescott, Literature and teaching students in his Lighthouse Program the value of literature.
It never failed to dismay him how many kids confused liking something with literary merit.
(Some of you need to learn that, but I digress). When one of his brighter students, Tad Corelli, shows up outside his office door banged up, bruised, beaten, Swift immediately offers him assistance. A stay at his beachhouse and some cash.
Later that evening, while having dinner with Max, it is revealed that Tad's father was killed. Shot thrice in the chest. Tad is the lead suspect. Does he tell Max or does he do something else?
You are a man who needs a new lot in life. Everyone else thinks you're a loser. Especially your wife. She would leave you the moment she is sure she no longer needs you. It had been your bright idea to combine your assets when you got married anyway. You have had rotten luck compounded by poor decision making. Your wife gives you $1000 to go pay and collect a package for her. But your boy calls you with insider knowledge on an upcoming horse race. Their illicit gambling ring is accepting buy-ins of at least $1000. Do you take your chances or do you do what your wife asked you. If you do what your wife asked go to page 10. If you take your chances... You are a lot like Swift.
Things get a lot interesting for our long-haired, earringed protagonist. His reasoning is compelling. Justified even. But the cynicism of the police chief, a very pragmatic and straight forward gentleman with zebra vision don't care about this. Lanyon's books never fail to make the main characters work for their happy endings.
Each chapter also starts with a choose your own adventure style intro. It's very entertaining and makes me realise this author could write punchy sci-fi adventure novels should she want to. Aside from the mystery of who killed Mario Corelli, the banter between the main love interests was another source of joy. In one instance, Max asks Swift about Tad's relationships at the school.
"What about a girlfriend?" Max asked.
"Nah, I'm satisfied with you for now."
Max looked up in surprise.
Swift raised an eyebrow. "Are you interrogating me, Chief?"
The microwave pinged. Max offered his slow, devilish grin.
"Saved by the bell, Teach."
Of course this being an MM romance mystery, there are a lot of tender moments to be savoured. My favourite is perhaps the one that would alarm a psychotherapist.
Max's scarred brow crinkled. He reached for the coffee mug on his desk. "Motive is tricky. See, what might be a good reason for me to kill someone might not be a good enough reason for you to kill someone."
Swift stared at his hands loosely clasped around his ankle.
"I wouldn't. Deliberately hurt anyone."
"And my impulse is to hurt anyone who hurts you."
This book also feels like a love letter to literature. Very common with Lanyon's early aughts books. You couldn't go a few pages without meeting a relevant quote. From TS Eliot to EE Cummings to Butler.
I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't write a review for this earlier as I think it's one of Lanyon's best stand-alones. I have been rightfully accused of being a Josh Lanyon stan but when I read such immaculate stories every time, what else could I possibly be but eternal fangirl?
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