Gerard and Jacques (2006) by Fumi Yoshinaga is a mxm romance between a aristocrat and a commoner set against the backdrop of a country on the verge of civil war.
The class system in France is a significant part of the story and a gripping one. In the city of Paris, commoners are seen with disdain and are treated as such because they are believed to be uncouth and without an education since they are poor. Whereas the nobility are viewed as having refined tastes and are educated. They are “old money” and are very well dressed in their powdered wigs and make-up. It comes as no surprise that the disparity between the two classes has caused unrest in France. The nobility and the commoner square off in what is well known as The French Revolution.
The premise of this story is an engaging one but it doesn’t come into fruition until the second volume. The first volume is seen merely as an introduction. Gerard, a novelist who writes erotic romances, visits a high end brothel and becomes Jacques first and last client. Jacques spews a lot of insults at Gerard, calling him a ‘sodomite.’ Jacques is an aristocrat whose father sold him into prostitution. Gerard, being older, despises the nobility and sets out to teach seventeen-year old Jacques a lesson and he ends up buying the boy his freedom.
In a twist of fate, Jacques comes to be a servant in Gerard’s household. Much of the story shows him working for Gerard and adapting to life as a commoner. The story speeds up three years and Jacques is much older and is seen reading philosophy books. The two men develop a friendship. The story arc then moves into the background of Gerard and explains how he got his scar and how he lost his eye. He has good reason to hate the nobility and I enjoyed the last couple of chapters in this first volume.
The second volume is much tighter and has more action and the political and social strife of Paris is on the verge of explosion. People are ready to riot in the streets. Meanwhile, Gerard is now a best-selling novelist of erotic novels but it attracts the attention of the Public Safety Commission. Gerard and Jacques eventually become targets for the Jacobins and are forced to leave Paris during the Reign of Terror.
I enjoyed the romance between Gerard and Jacques. It was believable to me in that the two men had come to love each other. It was a natural progression that never felt forced to me. The second volume was the best of this two volume set because it had a lot more political intrigue and suspense. The drawings in here are nicely done as are the men. The story is character driven and I loved that the historical setting was a big part of the story. If only volume one had started out as strong as the second volume, I’d truly sing this author’s praises but it wasn’t.
The sex is graphic in here and there are a couple of rape scenes. The chemistry between the two men was nice not great. Their scenes together were much more intimate and emotionally engaging in vol.2. The author did a good job in making me believe that these two men had fallen in love. I wish there was more to the story after this volume but the author did leave it with a good ending. Gerard and Jacques will not be one my favorite yaoi manga reads but I’m glad to have read it. The best thing about this manga was the historical aspects of it followed by the love story. My grade, B/B-.