Dearest Milton James ~ N.R. Walker
Dearest Milton James by N.R. Walker is a funny, romantic, no angst read that is guaranteed to be the highlight of your day or week. It is an effortlessly engaging story filled with quirky characters. The central romance is underscored with the overwhelmingly romantic 'lost letters' addressed to 'Dearest Milton James'. The letters tell the story of a romance between two young men who fell in love at a time when such relationships were taboo and hidden, especially in rural areas.
Malachi and Julian are certainly an opposites-attract couple. Malachi hasn't met a colour he doesn't like and proudly asserts that he matches his hair, shirt, and shoes. Julian is reserved, wearing suits of various tones of beige and brown. Malachi and Julian have an almost instant attraction, first evidenced by Malachi's self-confessed uncontrollable verbal rambling, with no internal editor whatsoever, whenever he is nervous. Malachi's idiosyncrasies ensure that he fits right in with the quirky staff of the dead letter office, oh I mean, the Mail Redirection Center (sorry Julian!).
He frowned. “Are you nervous now? You’re doing that nervous rambling thing...."
"No, no. God. That’s not why I’m nervous. I mean, I’m not nervous." Why couldn’t I just shut my mouth?
“Well, I am a bit. But you make me nervous. Being around attractive people makes me nervous. It always has."
Christ, Malachi, stop talking. Stop. Talking. Stop.
Did I call him attractive? Again? ... I think I did.
Dear brain, Please disengage all talking operations. Actually, just shut down all mouth functionality. Cease all operations. Error 404, file not found, something to make it stop. I’d even take a fatal error, blue screen of death right now . . .
Malachi’s sunshine is what Julian needs, and he subtly changes his outlook (and clothes) as his relationship with Malachi progresses. Julian uses the letters as an excuse to get to know Malachi better, and no one is more surprised than he when, through a group effort, they find out who wrote the letters!
I loved the use of the letters interspersed throughout the story. They tell the story of two young men who fall in love only for one of them to be conscripted for the war, so their time is limited. The letters are overwhelmingly romantic, emotional, but sad. How does the story end? Well, you’ll just have to pick up the book to find out, you won’t be sorry!!
I love N.R. Walker’s writing style; I find it fluid and engaging. Her sense of humour is one that I really appreciate, and I love her ability to create characters with whom I am completely invested and worlds where I can truly lose myself. As a fellow Aussie, I really appreciate how she can set a story in Australia, and make it perfectly obvious it is Australia (rather than US or UK) without relying on outdated, but popular, stereotypes.
Dearest Milton James is a beautifully heartwarming story with absolutely no angst or drama. It is light, but it has an emotional core enhanced by the use of the letters. It is guaranteed to have you breaking out in laughter at various times and leave with you a massive grin on your face.