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REVIEW: “The Celestial” by Barry Brennessel



Love was the last thing Todd Webster Morgan expected to find while searching for gold in 1870s California. But that was before he met Lâo Jian.

Hardened beyond his nineteen years, Todd Webster Morgan is determined to find gold high in the Sierra Nevadas. But his dream is violently upended. Complicating matters even more, he meets a young Chinese immigrant named Lâo Jian, whose own dreams of finding gold have been quashed by violence.

But life back in Sacramento isn’t any easier. Todd’s mother struggles to make ends meet. His invalid uncle becomes increasing angry. Todd seeks employment with little success. Meanwhile his friendship with Lâo Jian turns to love. But their relationship is strained as anti-Chinese sentiment grows.

Todd vows not to lose Lâo Jian. The couple must risk everything to make a life for themselves. A life that requires facing fear and prejudice head on.



Hooray for Todd Webster Morgan and all his stubborn, adorable, loving aways!

I started reading The Celestial with some minor apprehensions.  You see, I’m don’t tend to read or enjoy historicals, so in a way this poor darling of a book was already on the back-foot before I’d even turned the first page.  But never you mind, I think it’s darn near impossible to not fall for MC Todd Webster’s charms.

The Celestial is written in Todd’s first person POV.  Through his narration, we see a young man (just shy of 20 years old) who lives his life with empathy and love.  We see how he follows his heart in all he does.  We see the sweet interest between two young men gently sway to fondness, then attraction and then love.

“A hand clutched my shoulder.  Before I could see who it was, I felt the warm breath on my cheek.


“I knew you would be here.”


It was Låo Jian’s voice.  He moved on too quick for our eyes to meet.  For now, it was enough that I’d felt his breath, heard his voice, and saw his retreating form running toward the Trout Creek line.”

We also see the cruelty of racism which is aimed at Låo Jian and his people.  Alongside that we see Todd Webster’s unwavering devotion to the person he loves – regardless of gender or race.  And that’s beautiful; true romance and and humility at it’s finest.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Celestial and will happily read more of Brennessel’s work.




Xing: 4.5 stars

Ilhem: 4 stars


The CelestialTitle: The Celestial

Author: Barry Brennessel
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 180
Release Date: September 7th, 2012
Purchase Links: ARe, Amazon

2 comments on “REVIEW: “The Celestial” by Barry Brennessel

  1. ilhem3606
    October 8, 2014

    Agreed. I loved Todd! And Lào Jian. And Barry Brennessel.


  2. Kaje
    October 8, 2014

    I enjoyed this, and I think it works as YA or adult reading, giving readers a feel for an historical period we don’t hear much about, and cultural differences as well.


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This entry was posted on October 8, 2014 by in Historical, Reviewer: Sue and tagged , , .

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