THE BRITISH DEVIL by Greg Hogben
The British Devil by Greg Hogben
Reviewed by Cassie
When British flight attendant Greg Stephens meets US Navy officer Danny Taylor in Bahrain, there’s an instant attraction between them. Still, due to the distance, Greg doesn’t initially expect anything to come of it. Somehow, he and Danny hit it off enough to keep communicating via webcam and email, despite the distance between them. Their relationship continues to grow, even when Danny moves back to Texas to attend law school.
The distance between them is bad enough, but Danny’s born-again Christian mother is a much bigger problem. She hates Greg on sight. Can Greg and Danny endure long separations of thousands of miles, the stress of work and school, and the disapproval of Danny’s mother?
I’m kind of torn regarding The British Devil. Anybody looking for nonstop kinky sex scenes should look elsewhere, because The British Devil isn’t that kind of book. At its core, the book is a sweet romance between two very different men, separated by distance, culture, and family. I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. First-person narrator Greg is a very likeable and engaging character. He’s got a dry wit, a fascinating job, and a good heart. I liked his British humor, his obvious love for Danny and his family, and even his insights into politics. Reading about life as a flight attendant was fun. Other than seeing them on flights I’ve been on, I know very little about them, so reading about what they think and say to each other during a flight provided a lot of amusement. Another thing I liked about Greg was the way he was able to see when he was being unreasonable, or overreacting. He’s not a perfect man, but he truly loves Danny. The fact that he’s willing to have a long-distance relationship with a man halfway across the world, remaining faithful to him and going out of his way to see him, proved his feelings over and over. So did putting up with Danny’s horrid mother (but more on that later).
Navy officer Danny doesn’t get a chance to tell any of the story, but through Greg’s eyes it’s easy to see he’s a good man. He works hard, despite the obstacles of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy (still in force for most of the book). He cares about his country, his family, and Greg. Like Greg, he sometimes falls prey to doubt or petty jealousies, but he always realizes when he’s in the wrong, even if it takes him a while. He makes a good match for Greg.
When they come together, it’s sweet and romantic, but it’s no fairytale. There are plenty of obstacles they have to overcome to be together, including the huge distance, Danny’s Navy service and then law school, Greg’s job, which takes him all over the world, the natural jealousy and doubt that come up in a long-distance relationship, and the difficulties of immigration laws for gay partners. These conflicts are realistic and handled well, and watching them struggle to overcome them definitely held my interest. There were instances in which lack of communication was a problem, but on the whole both Greg and Danny dealt with problems by talking, a refreshing thing to see. The other huge conflict they face is Danny’s mother, a seemingly sweet Southern woman who takes every opportunity to needle Greg, or outright attack him, all the while trying to hide her behavior from her son. I believe there are people in the world who act like Mrs. Taylor did, but at times she was a bit over the top. I wasn’t bothered too much by that, as she was balanced by the rest of Danny’s family, who were supportive of Danny and Greg, and Greg’s wonderful family (all of whom I adored, especially his mum and his teasing brother). My issue with Mrs. Taylor came near the end of the story. After behaving as she did for years, it’s difficult for me to believe she could change so quickly. The last section left me feeling a little doubtful that things could go from horrible to okay in such a short period of time. While I really enjoyed the sweet romance in The British Devil, parts of the conflict with Danny’s mom, and the way it was resolved, were not my cup of tea, so to speak. Still, overall it’s a good read with likeable characters, and Anglophiles in particular ought to pick it up.