Song of Oestend by Marie Sexton
August 22, 2011
Paranormal M/M Romance
Reviewed by Helyce
Aren has good reason for making the huge, life changing decision to move to the Oestend prairie and take the job of bookkeeper on the BarChi ranch. His four-year relationship with his professor is over and he finds he has no other options. When he receives word of the job he figures he has nothing to lose and makes the very long journey out to Oestend. Upon arriving in the town of Milton, the last stop before heading out to the BarChi, he begins to second guess his decision to take the job on the ranch. He knows that he is not really cut out for life on the ranch, but once again he reminds himself that at this point, what else can he do.
Deacon is the foreman of the BarChi ranch. He’s responsible for the ranch hands, assigning them their daily tasks and generally making sure the ranch runs smoothly. Deacon was born and raised on the BarChi and he takes his job seriously. So much so that he keeps himself apart from the other hands, not allowing them to get close or develop friendships. He’s learned the hard way that getting close to someone may not really be worth it in the end.
But from the moment Aren and Deacon meet, they see something in each other and they begin a cautious friendship, each letting the other get just close enough to slowly build trust. When Aren moves into a vacant house on the BarChi, Aren’s growth really begins to show. He quickly adapts to ranch life, learning how to fend for himself and his home becomes a bit of a haven for Deacon as well. Their friendship blossoms and it was wonderful to see Deacon let his walls down and let the friendship with Aren grow. Without really realizing it themselves, Aren and Deacon forge a bond beyond friendship.
Song of Oestend is a complete departure from my previous reading experiences of Marie Sexton. This story takes places in an alternate reality that kind of mirrors earth in that it has a very ‘old west’ feel to it. There is the BarChi cattle ranch where the ranch hands ride horses and have similar jobs as you would expect an earth ranch to have like mending fences and tending to the cattle. The houses and barns described by the author sound very much like they would have been in the old days just about the time when homes had the first types of indoor plumbing and perhaps electricity. The ranch is run by a family, passed down through generations from father to son. There are those that are referred to as the “Old Ones” which I immediately related to our own Native Americans. Then there are much feared wraiths; souls that for some reason have not been able to move on after death and come out at night and take human lives for vengeance on their own deaths.
While the relationship change from friends to lovers between Aren and Deacon did not come as a surprise to me, the ‘type’ of relationship they began, did, and I have to say that my initial reaction was a bit unsettling. Interestingly, Aren makes the first move on Deacon when he realizes that perhaps he is not alone in his feelings. Aren also finds himself the more experienced of the two and takes the lead in the relationship, something he had never been able to do before. He himself is surprised to learn that in the bedroom, Deacon wants no control at all. While the bdsm was light in their relationship, I’ve never been able to wrap my mind around sex with pain. But Ms. Sexton does such an awesome job with this couple that I was able to put my personal feelings aside and see to the heart of the relationship. Aren, a young gay man who had always allowed himself to be used sexually now finds himself in a relationship with a man who prefers to let go of the control and just submit.
He wrapped his hand around Deacon’s big, erect cock. He gripped him hard, pushing his fist down over the tip, feeling a hint of moisture under his foreskin as he stroked. “Now,” he said.
That was all it took. Deacon cried out, pressing hard against him, grinding into his fist, his whole body shaking as he came. When he was spent, he collapsed on top of Aren, his breathing hard and heavy in Aren’s ear. “Holy Saints, thank you,” he whispered.
“You were that wound up, by you didn’t jack off?” Aren asked.
“You told me not to.”
The confession thrilled him. He’d never dreamt of having so much power over another man. Yet he was equally aware that with such power came a certain responsibility. Aren remembered with painful clarity what it felt like to be used by men who cared a great deal about their own pleasure, but not a bit for his. He vowed he would not be so cruel to Deacon.
For me, the paranormal aspect with the wraiths in this story was very light and really only became an issue towards the end of the story. The conflict at the end was only just slightly predictable for me because it’s hinted at in the beginning and I wasn’t surprised to find out who the culprit was. The focus for me was on the growing relationship between Deacon and Aren and it was done beautifully. There is an m/m/m ménage scene as well in this book and I only mention it for those of you who shy away from that. It’s actually done quite well and just reinforces the strong bond of trust in Deacon and Aren’s relationship.
“I do love you,” he said. “More than you know. More than I can say. More than anything else in the world.” He kissed Aren’s neck and his jaw. He caressed him. “I love you more than I ever thought possible. I don’t know how I ever lived without you. I hope I never have to live without you again.”
“I don’t regret one second of my time in this room with you, and I don’t want you to regret any of it either. You make me what I am. You make me strong. You’re perfect, and you’re beautiful, and I love you. And I need you. And I depend on you. And there’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do just to see you smile.”
One thing I know for sure when I read a book by Marie Sexton is that something about the story will stick with me and touch me long after I’ve read the last page. That couldn’t have been truer than with Deacon and Aren, two men who kind of lived half a life until they found each other and became whole.