Keep Me In Mind: Palace Dog by R.E. Nelson ~ (ARC Review, Author Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)
Book Name: Palace Dog
Author Name: R. E. Nelson
Buy The Book:
In April 1975, as the government in Saigon is falling, Michael Andrews prepares to make his way back to Vietnam to find the love he was forced to leave.
But Michael’s journey begins four years earlier. He joins the Air Force to keep out of the Army and out of Vietnam, but his first assignment is teaching English in Saigon to members of the Vietnamese military in an Army program called Palace Dog.
As an artist, and a man, before his time in Vietnam, Michael found life lonely and unsatisfying. In the midst of war, Michael searches for direction and meaning. He ultimately finds love and hope with Thao, a young Vietnamese art student, only to have their already uncertain future wrenched from them when he is pulled out of the country.
For Michael, his return in 1975 is inevitable and without question, though the outcome he hopes for is anything but assured.
Categories: Gay Fiction, Historical, M/M Romance
The cyclo had bumped across the bridge, following the curve in the road, then moved quickly down the final straight stretch, past houses and shops, past rows of trees and walls and occasional open spaces, past vendors who lined the street’s edge selling gasoline in glass bottles. Motorcycles, Lambretta mini-buses packed with people, cream-and-blue Renault taxis, pedestrians with baskets and boxes—all crowded the street. Noises, smells, and smoke came from everywhere, and as the driver increased his speed, I smiled, gripping the metal frame tighter and pushing slightly with my feet as the moist wind rushed around me.
Speeding through the streets of Saigon, wearing the green Air Force-issued jungle fatigues, my life of a year ago seemed unreal.
Pages or Words: 206 pages
*copy provided by author/publisher via Pride Promotions in exchange for an honest review*
I LOVED this book. The author starts the story in 1975, when Micheal "Mike" is leaving home to return to Vietnam to find, and bring home, Thoa, the man he met and fell in love with, while stationed there as a teacher.
The author then takes us back to the year 1971(the year I was born). We follow Mike through the two years he is stationed in Vietnam. We follow his self discovery as he hooks up with strangers, looking for something to satisfy him. Something to fill the void. He finds that in Thoa, but this takes a long time. To say this story is a slow burn is an understatement.
We watch the slow process of these two young men getting to know each other, becoming friends, then falling in love. This was a beautiful and at times heartbreaking story. I felt I was there. The sites, smells and sounds are described in vivid detail. I'll be honest, I'm not a big detail oriented girl, I also like my main characters to be together much sooner than Mike and Thoa were, but I have to say, I was never bored. I never skimmed ahead, or even felt the urge to. This story pulled me in from the first page and held me captivated. I ate up the words of this story like it was my last meal.
Mike and Thoa were both extremely likable characters. I loved their story. They had good chemistry. The sex is alluded to, none of it graphic, but the before and after was sweet and loving. You feel the love between these men.
My only real complaint (well besides the lack of sex, lol), is I wanted to see where they ended up. The story could have used another chapter or two, and maybe an epilogue. Maybe the author will feel generous down the road and write another book/novella for these two men.
Author Guest Post:
Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book in the Vietnam era?
Inspiration for PALACE DOG came from my having been there first in the early 1970’s and later returning for regular and prolonged visits.
My time in Vietnam in 1971-72 was intense yet in some ways it felt magical. Like Michael, the main character in PALACE DOG, I joined the Air Force fresh out of graduate school. A lottery had been put in place for the military draft, and I knew I was going to get called. I wanted to avoid the Army and avoid going to Vietnam to fight. Like Michael, my first assignment for the Air Force was teaching English for the Army in Vietnam.
The experience we had as Palace Dogs teaching English to the Vietnamese military was much different from those Americans who were in actual combat. The war was everywhere around us, but it rarely touched us directly. The time I spent there and the memories I brought back with me were, for the most part, positive. It was that side of being there at that time that I wanted to share. Fiction seemed the most appropriate platform to do that.
In writing the story of Michael and Thao, I came to think of myself as being there with Michael, and sharing many similar experiences. But we each had our private lives, and they were different. Michael and Thao’s story is fiction, but the setting is based on the reality I experienced by being there.
R.E. Nelson was born in Texas and raised in Southern California. He has been writing for as long as he can remember. One of his earliest recollections related to writing is winning an essay contest in sixth grade--something patriotic about the American flag. When he travels, his preference is staying in select areas for an extended period of time and learning about that place. He has lived in both Vietnam (twice, actually) and Saudi Arabia, and also spent time in Egypt, South Korea, Shanghai (his only China visit thus far), and Dubai. Now he is happy to call San Francisco home.
Where to find the author:
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
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Rafflecopter Prize: E-copy of ‘Palace Dog’
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