A Hidden Beauty
Poetry drew them together. Forbidden love bound their hearts.
A student of letters, Micah Yardley wants one thing: To meet Jefferson Dering, a poet he’s long admired from afar. After hearing his idol speak at Harvard, Micah travels to Jefferson’s home in Wroxham, entertaining visions of discussing poetry over dinner and drinks. What he experiences exceeds anything he ever anticipated.
Jefferson finds Micah mesmerizing, passionate, everything he has ever wanted. But ten years earlier, caught in a compromising position with another young man, he exiled himself from Boston and proper society. Now Jefferson represses his desire out of respect for Micah, but his tumultuous emotions stir the restless ghost of Wroxham church—with deadly consequences.
Amid denial, desire, and the villagers rising panic, a single kiss is enough to change the course of their lives…and ignite the flame that could fulfill a generations-old promise.
5 hearts from Dee Dailey, The Romance Studio:...a powerful and timeless story of the perils of two men who find a relationship in a society that doesn’t accept them. Their characters are exceptionally well done, showing the lengths each will go to in protecting the other. The author uses an excellent blend of each person’s first hand account of their feelings and actions. Their letters that follow the initial overt act of love are a chronology of their growing admission of how they both feel.
5 blue ribbons from Christina, Romance Junkies:...HIDDEN BEAUTY by Jamie Craig is a fascinating and incredibly moving novel. This is one of the most romantic stories I have ever read. This story is calm and soothing but it is also full of passion and intense emotion. The combination is very powerful. Micah and Jefferson’s relationship develops quietly and slowly so that the reader has ample time to get to know the characters and become invested in them. I read this story slowly savoring the beautiful prose. I can see myself reading this book again and again.
From Sabella, Joyfully Reviewed:...A Hidden Beauty is a timeless romance that skillfully weaves the love of poetry through its pages until it becomes almost a language of its own between the characters. Jamie Craig wrote a spectacular and lyrical tale of love between two men who must battle their socially-ingrained repellence to the feelings they incite in each other. Micah is a young, naïve, and exuberant young man who has pursued his love of poetry against his family’s objections. When he unexpectedly finds a kindred soul in Jefferson, he is overjoyed, even if a little confused by his reaction to the man. Jefferson is a mature man who has been burned in the past for pursuing his desires, but he nonetheless is swept away by Micah’s charm. A Hidden Beauty is not a story for the casual, laidback reader. Its prose is very complex and deep, requiring the reader’s undivided attention to fully capture the characters' flavors and emotions. Also, there is a substantial build-up to the culmination of the relationship between Micah and Jefferson, which I felt was resolved rather quickly and simply, given the length of the book. A Hidden Beauty is not a light or short read, but it is well worth the time and attention for those readers who enjoy the emotional courtship aspect of romance!
From Elisa Rolle:...The story is very long and it's peaceful and quiet, it flows like a placid river. It starts slow and continues with a almost straight course. But it's very beautiful and romantic...But more than the historical accuracy of the setting, it's the sensuality between the two men that draws me, the poetry that becomes love stimulation, the words that become sex toys. Beautiful cover that enlights you in one of the sexual game they play... you should read it!
4 1/2 stars from Ruby Minx, Literary Nymphs Reviews:...A Hidden Beauty is beautifully written and the story is finely crafted. The language is “olde worlde” and is appropriate for the period in which the story appears to take place. I thought the pace of the love affair between the two characters was quite fitting given the era...
4 1/2 stars from Speak Its Name:...The slow and careful development of the relationship also allowed time for the forces of society to be amply ranged against the two men. I enjoyed – in a sort of masochistic way – the feeling that, slowly but surely, the jaws of intolerance were closing on the burgeoning love story. By the end I was on tenterhooks as to which force would come to the point of action first. The slow but sure build up of tension almost certainly contributed to the fact that the sex scenes in the book are some of the best I’ve read. By this time we know exactly how much they mean to both men, and some of that awe and wonder comes across, making these scenes truly intimate rather than merely voyeuristic...
4 lips from Tina, Two Lips Reviews:...A Hidden Beauty takes us back to an age of innocence and passion blending as one. Micah is sensitive, young, and very much in need of love in his life. He is drifting through life looking for a stable place to grow roots. Jefferson is older and thought he is sure who he is, Micah turns his world upside down, making him reevaluate himself and his priorities in life. Their love brings them stability and a deep, deep friendship that is beautiful to behold as a reader. Jamie Craig always pushes the envelope of what romance is and A Hidden Beauty is no exception. I for one did not want this story to end. This story truly is A Hidden Beauty you will want to keep near your heart.
From Uniquely Pleasurable:...When the two finally come together sexually, Craig gives us a consummation both satisfying and absorbing, with Micah’s inexperienced zeal a foil for Jefferson’s combined relief and fear....
83 from Mrs. Giggles:...Jefferson has that nice tortured artist vibe about him that is most attractive. He doesn't overdo his whining or self-pity, in fact, he's an adorable woobie who is hurt and in need of some TLC...
Jefferson settled in the chair directly across from Micah. “I’m sure somebody like Ewan is worth a king’s ransom. He seems quite able.”
“He’s a friend. A dear friend. Even if he doesn’t appreciate our genius.”
“It’s good to have somebody like that in your life. I once…” Jefferson’s voice faded and his eyes grew unfocused for a moment before he smiled. “Speaking of genius, when will I get the chance to hear your work?”
Though it was a valiant effort, Micah noticed Jefferson’s change of topic. He had been about to discuss something obviously personal, and then thought better of it. It was likely irrational, but disappointment like sour bile settled in his stomach. Clearly, Jefferson’s diversion was proof this was a purely professional relationship they were cultivating, even if there were moments where it felt like something more.
He maintained his pleasant façade, in spite of the discouragement. This was already more than he had hoped for; he needed to be satisfied with what he got.
“I’m afraid I didn’t bring anything with me. But I’d much rather hear yours instead. Might I convince you to share something?”
Jefferson studied him for a long moment. His silence stretched for so long that Micah braced himself for further disappointment. He seemed to be weighing something, his blue eyes shadowed and thoughtful, his forehead pulled into a slight crease.
“Would you be interested in hearing something new?”
A thrill coursed through him. Micah sat up straighter. “I would be most honored. Is this something for your third volume?”
Jefferson’s lips twitched into a strange little smile for a beat. “No. I’m actually not positive where it will end up. I don’t have enough of anything right now to even consider publishing a third volume, as much as I would like to.”
“That’s just a matter of time, I’m certain.” Setting aside his teacup, Micah tried to quell the tremor in his hands by folding them together in his lap. It was a trifle embarrassing how excited this entire prospect made him. His body was reacting in inappropriate ways, including the hardening of his shaft inside his trousers. “Is this a recent composition, or something you’ve been working on for some time?”
“Recent. I actually wrote it last night and this morning. I suppose it might suffer from my lack of sleep, but I find it best to indulge the muse whenever she deems me worthy.”
“So your muse prefers to inspire in nightfall.” He chuckled. “Perhaps she should speak with mine. For the life of me, I can’t discern her timetable at all.”
“I am afraid my muse is just as unpredictable as yours.” Jefferson stood and crossed the room to his desk. Micah could easily imagine Jefferson hunched over the old desk, scribbling long into the night, his face marked by a thoughtful frown, his hair tousled. “I have several fragments, but two completed. Still untitled.”
Jefferson paused for a moment, his gaze darting from the paper in his hand, to Micah, then back again. “‘The woods of Greylock, so wild before,/ now hold the promise of eternal spring;/ our fears brought forth by ancient lore,/ flee with the gift each new season brings.’”
Over the past two months, reading the poetry of Jefferson Dering had always been one of his favorite pleasures. Micah carried the small volumes everywhere, pulled one or the other out to read when he felt the need, lost more minutes than he could fathom by getting lost in the imagery. He had always thought nothing could exceed such delight.
But he had held such beliefs prior to hearing the man speak. Listening to Jefferson was utterly different than reading him. This was verse given life. Each word carried a weight Micah had only imagined before. Now, he felt it. They issued in a smooth baritone to cross the distance, hover for seconds before him, then drift down to caress his skin as it seeped into his flesh. There was so much he adored about Jefferson’s poetry, but the way each image demanded to be experienced—the way Jefferson’s heartfelt recitation demanded—was what he truly loved.
The last line of the poem was still reverberating through his body when Jefferson looked up from the paper. “I think it’s still a little rough.”
Micah started. “You must be joking. It’s brilliant.”
“No. I will need to revise it. The penultimate stanza doesn’t…” Jefferson paused and tilted his head. “Do you really think it’s brilliant?”
“Even the stanza you don’t care for.” When it was clear Jefferson didn’t believe him, Micah barreled forward. “The rhythm is irregular in that stanza, it’s true. But it has to be. By disrupting the flow that tiny bit, you force your reader to slow down. He has no choice but to savor the imagery of the changing seasons, which ultimately, is the theme of the piece. The only way to banish our fears is to embrace the gifts each new season brings to us. To not is to live a life half-shadowed and half-explored.”
“Then who am I to argue?” Jefferson bent over his desk again, plucking his quill out of the ink. Micah held his breath and heard the steady scratch of the tip over the thick paper. He turned, approaching Micah with the poem held out in front of him. “Here. It’s yours.”
He took the paper without tearing his gaze away from Jefferson. “But your new volume. Surely you wish to keep it for that.”
Jefferson shook his head. “I think it will have more value as a gift. You’ll appreciate it.”
There was no arguing with the truth of his assertion. Micah doubted anybody could appreciate Jefferson’s work as much as he did.
“Thank you,” he murmured. He held the poem with reverence, but when he saw what he’d written across the top as the poem’s title, he nearly stopped breathing.
For Mr. Yardley.
Micah forced his throat to work, swallowing against the tightness. “This is…” Words failed. It took several seconds for him to lift his too-light head and meet Jefferson’s expectant eyes. “I’ll treasure it, Mr. Dering. You have no idea how much.”
“Will you do something for me?” He waited for Micah’s eager nod. “Will you please call me Jefferson?”
New warmth suffused his muscles. He couldn’t restrain his brilliant smile. “Only if you will do me the honor of calling me Micah.”
“Of course. Micah.” Nobody had ever said Micah’s name that way before. Jefferson seemed to caress the word with his tongue, tasting it as it shaped his mouth.