Book: After the Night
Author: Rachel Dax
One of the advantages of growing up in a small town is that I had the good fortune of knowing my grandparents as regular features in my life. In particular, my dad’s mom, Wilma, was my best friend, hero, and chocolate chip cookie enabler.
I’m the twitchy little dyke I am today because of her constant love and devil-may-care attitude.
Still, Wilma led a hard life as a farmer’s wife, and my parents and aunt finally convinced her to move off the farm and into town in 1970. At the time, she grumped that she was just fine where she was, but I never heard her complain about suddenly having electricity, indoor plumbing, running water, a washing machine and dryer, a telephone, or a furnace.
She did, however, put up a valiant and successful fight against the evils of air conditioning for another thirty-one years.
|One of Wilma's Stories|
One of the things my grandma loved most about living in town was that she could regularly volunteer at the library three times a week, and any time she needed to go to the Stop-n-Shop to do her trading, which was conveniently located next door. Grandma would help the librarian restock the shelves, work the front desk, and carry stacks of books to and from the bookmobile.
As ‘payment’ for her efforts, the librarian would send grandma home with a paper bag full of “stories,” as she liked to call them. Her absolute favorites were the Avon originals, Harlequin romances, and the old Mills & Boon books in brown.
As a kid, I mostly remember the covers usually featured handsome, square-jawed men and women with flowing hair and oh-so-heaving bosoms…no wonder I grew up to have a squishy little heart and a healthy libido.
In After the Night, author Rachel Dax takes her readers back in time to 1960 in this pulp fiction nod to the 1956 film, Yield to the Night.
|Yield to the Night Poster|
US Theatrical Release
Which featured the “eye-filling, gasp-provoking, blonde bombshell,” Diana Dors, as a murderess sentenced to hang and spending her last days in the condemned cell in a British women's prison.
Twenty-two year old nurse, Leah Webster takes a position in the hospital wing of Deepdown women’s prison in order to save up money for her impending marriage to the handsome and square-jawed Bill. Dark haired serious looking Chief Officer Jean MacFarlane is assigned responsibility by the Governor for her introduction. Immediately, “Mac,” who is a walking contradiction, intrigues Leah – the guard is edgy, distant, rigidly professional, and gruff, but almost without fail, the prisoners and other prison workers seem to brighten up when she is near.
By the time Leah is introduced to Matron and the prisoners in the sanatorium, she’s having second thoughts about taking on this position. Almost immediately, Marge, who is infirm with a broken hip, begins flirting openly with Leah. Leah has heard stories of inverts and perverts, but has never really encountered one before, and is even more unsettled.
Of course, over the next few days, Leah learns of Mac’s heart being broken by the execution of a prisoner she was assigned to guard. And, then, a young prisoner that is one of Mac’s favorites is rushed to the san – she’s been beaten severely and is deep in the throes of pneumonia. Mac stays by her side night and day, and as Leah watches the motherly love and devotion, she suddenly realizes that she may be developing feelings for the older woman. Leah fights the feelings, and even capitulates to sex with Bill to convince herself she’s not an invert, but all she can think of is Mac.
Of course, true love must always be fought for, and their budding relationship is tested time and again by a prison break that turns deadly, lies and deceit that threaten their jobs and their honor, ugly prejudice and vile accusations, and a wholly unplanned and unimagined surprise.
They push, they pull, they have partially-clothed sex in Mac’s office, they plan a life with hundreds of dogs and cats…
Rachel Dax delivers a solid debut in this highly stylized piece of British historical romance. After the Night features strong central characters that offer a satisfying mix of strength and vulnerability, and a plot that twists and turns and inspires feelings of true joy and ultimate despair.
The author gets her mojo rolling and channels the very best of the Avon, Harlequin and Mills & Boon authors of the late 50s, 60s, and early 70s.
Ms. Dax has produced a story that exemplifies the very best of the classic romance novel, and checks off each and every box on the “So You Want to Write Romances” pamphlet…
- After the Night revolves around two women as they develop romantic love for each other and work to build a lasting relationship together.
- Both the conflict and the climax of the story are directly related to that core theme of developing a romantic relationship, and the myriad subplots that do not specifically relate to the main characters' romantic love add appropriate levels of angst and turmoil.
- In addition, Ms. Dax rewards the characters who are good, and penalizes those who are evil; we see the couple fighting for and believing in their relationship, and we see them rewarded with happiness and unconditional love in the end.
I appreciate that Rachel Dax wrote this historical romance, stayed true to the rules of romance writing, and produced characters and dialogue that are appropriate to the time period and character stations in life. After the Night is a fun, artful, and compelling read, and it is different from anything else on the Lesfic market.
Think the love child of Kathleen Woodiwiss and Mabel Maney.
This book took me back in time, and reminded me of those stories my grandma loved so much – and I mean that to be a high compliment to Ms. Dax. At times, the plot was a bit predictable, but the story forged ahead at a brisk pace. For aficionados of classic lesbian romance, this is a must read.
After the Night gets a rising 4.9 out of 6 on the Rainbow Scale.