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Marion Zimmer Bradley
Sex scenes given very inexplicitly, but are definite as sex.
Sexual interest is a factor in the central relationship throughout.
Tommy has grown up in the circus with his lion-tamer parents,and becomes friends with the Santelli flying (trapeze) act member Mario. He trains as a junior member of the act, and within months of joining it becomes Mario's lover. In the 1940s U.S.and within a strait-laced circus family, this means total and complete closeting about sex, although Tommy and Mario are accepted as close foster brothers without question.
When their relationship as lovers is discovered, they both leave the circus and the Santelli home and go separate ways. Several years later, they meet again and resume where they left off, but Tommy Zane must learn to handle a committed relationship as an adult, as well as facing down the Santelli family's prejudices.
Excellent character depictions. Excellent picture of the performer's-eye circus life of the 40s-50s. Strong emotional handling of coming-of-age situations where a gay relationship is off-the-map taboo, yet entirely natural to the lovers. It's a one-of-a-kind novel.
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Warnings (may contain spoilers)
Pervasive homophobic attitude of the U.S. 1940s and early 50s.
Sex between young adult man and teenager, entirely consensual.
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