Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
They were raised to hate each other, but love has other plans.
When introverted bookworm Orestis escapes his homophobic parents and abusive home for a night out with friends, he meets artist Emir, and the passion between them is instant and explosive. But Orestis is a Greek Cypriot and Emir is Turkish, and neither society nor their families will accept their love. If they want a romance that lasts beyond one fiery, forbidden night, they’ll have to face the backlash.
Let me say immediately that Dem Had has a wonderful story here, with a location, situation, and main couple I really hadn’t seen before. If the full promise indicated by the blurb isn’t fulfilled, mark that up to the shortness of the story. Given the writing, the gritty details, the research, and many of the facts and emotional layers to Barricades, had it just been extended further, this would have been a remarkable novel.
As released, Barricades by Dem Had is a contemporary romance that takes us to the divided island of Cyprus, a tiny paradise that’s currently in the middle of a economic boom …on the Greek side. Yes, its divided by religion and countries, Turkey and Greece, Islam and Christianity. And in between lies a border and years of hatred. All on one small exquisite island.
Had uses Cyprus’ division and pasts which will always extend into its present as a foundation for Barricades and it’s main couple, one a Greek Cypriot and the other a Turkish Cypriot. Four words that are almost swear words depending on which side of the border you live on.
While Had brings the fanatical animosity between the two factions alive, she never really accounts for the depth of feeling for being a Cypriot which I know from being friends with someone there. Their love for Cyprus, in this case they never say Cyprus , no its always, always, “Im a Greek Cypriot”, is on a cellular level. Away, the word pining for his town and land is entirely accurate . His pride in returning after getting his degrees abroad? Beyond words. In the story, you get the anguish and the bitterness of both mens’ situation. The cultural divide that brings the bullying and endless harassment feels real, especially as they live so close to the border (which my friend never mentions, it’s as though that part of the island does not exist).
It’s as though we are only getting part of their story and you feel the hole because of the richness of what remains. These are terrific characters.
Orestis with his physically abusive father, comes in for twice the hatred, he’s gay and his boyfriend is Turkish. His pain and fear on the page is visceral. His father treatment of Orestis includes the way the father feels the family is now seen by everyone around them, that the son has “failed” them. A real situation there.Emir is the one that needs more layers. You never see the full artist in him, yet supposedly he’s successful commercially. But that part of his character never feels real or part of the story. He’s clearly a conflicted person emotionally over his sexuality, driving him to cheat and have anonymous sexual encounters behind Orestis,’s back. That part of their relationship or should I say Emir’s conflict within himself is never resolved satisfactorily. It can’t be within this short a story.
Yes, readers who have problems with a mc that cheats is going to have issues here.
Had is dealing with so many legitimate issues here. She could have filled a 500 page novel with this couple and their relationship alone with dealing with their backgrounds, the issues of their differences in religion which never arises, the culture of hypermasculinity that exists in Greece and Cyprus, the idealization of Greek sons within the family and the family’s high expectations, domestic and child abuse, along with LGBT rights which are admittedly shaky there.
All of which made the ending extremely puzzling because there was no foundation set for it. Had the author built the groundwork, ie shown the readers that the men truly loved their island and why (the places, their homes) we would have understood the choice better.
But perhaps this is just me seeing so much promise in this story and characters and wishing for more. As written, I do recommend it, It’s different, terrific, and will make you think while enjoying a romance with its feet on an island both torn and exquisite.
Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht. Dramatic and eye catching. Great job.
ebook, World of Love #27, 85 pages
Expected publication: May 24th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English