Raincheck by Sarah Madison
Dreamspinner Press, 2011
Rodney has lived in Manhattan for decades, but he has never visited the Metropolitan Museum. He’s never browsed in one of the city’s famed bookstores, or enjoyed an espresso in a Greenwich Village café, or strolled through Central Park on a spring afternoon. He exists on the fringes of society, observing people and events, collecting odds and ends that attract him, making sardonic comments that no one hears.
Although Rodney yearns for a richer life, he accepts his limits. After all, there’s not much he can do about them. Rodney is a gargoyle, destined to spend each day on his base atop a nineteen twenties building as a hunk of inanimate stone. The setting sun sets him free to swoop between the skyscrapers on powerful wings and grab whatever scraps he can salvage of the city’s complexity and beauty. At dawn he hurries back to his perch, before he turns to dust.
Then one night a beautiful, sad young man climbs to the rooftop that is Rodney’s domain. Unlike other humans, David can hear Rodney’s voice. The two strike up an odd friendship, bonding in their mutual love of books and their frustration with the greed that is destroying New York’s past. Rodney hides in the shadows, afraid that a glimpse of his hulking body, leathery wings and vicious claws will drive his companion away. When David’s life is threatened, however, Rodney has no choice but to reveal his true nature.
I enjoyed this novella, the first gargoyle paranormal erotic romance I’ve encountered. If there are conventions to this sub-genre, I’m not aware of them. Hence I didn’t know what to expect (though of course I knew Rodney and David would eventually become lovers). The ending (which I’ll keep under my hat!) took me by surprise, an experience that I welcome.
Ms. Madison successfully brings Rodney to life (no pun intended), showing the reader his pain and his resignation. He’s such a sweet guy, you can’t help but love him. David is less fully fleshed out, but that is perhaps to be expected in a relatively short tale (65 pages) told from a single point of view.
Although the book does include a bit of explicit sex, it’s pretty mild compared to many of the MM books I read—not to mention the ones I write! There’s no coyness, however. I particularly liked the way the author describes Rodney’s physical reactions and the damage they do to David’s apartment. After all, human dwellings weren’t designed for seven foot tall creatures with wings!
A bit more local color would have enriched the texture of the story. I don’t think Ms. Madison is all that familiar with New York City. Aside from a mention of the Metropolitan Museum, there’s nothing specific to Manhattan in the tale, and that, in my opinion, weakens the book’s effect. New York is one of the few places in the US where it would be plausible to find a gargoyle, but to be honest, Raincheck could have been set anywhere.
This is a relatively minor criticism, from a reader who perhaps cares more than most about setting. Overall, Raincheck is a quick, satisfying, romantic read with a distinctly different premise and an appealing hero.