The Center of Earth and Sky explores a year in the life of twins Grey and Raine Holstein and the man who becomes the center of their joined universe. Meeting one night under the dim lights of a neighborhood bar, Bartholomew “Whit” Whittaker becomes drawn into a sensual world where passion overcomes panic, where a simple meal can become an erotic feast and where love is the paramount rule.
Raine and Gray are identical twins born six minutes apart. The nature of their relationship is such that they share every aspect of their lives with one another, including a sexual relationship. They are two halves of the same whole – two hearts, two minds, one soul. Raine is the more outgoing and frenetic of the twins always chattering and fluttering about – he seldom sleeps. He is the sky and Grey’s voice. Grey is the more introspective and quiet of the two and sleeps for the both of them. He is Raine’s “heartbeat,” his earth and the foundation that keeps Raine grounded.
Whit’s entry into their world as their lover and partner serves to enhance Raine and Grey’s relationship by adding another dimension to it. Although Whit immediately realizes that he is falling for both Raine and Grey and would like nothing more than to become a permanent part of their lives he remains tentative. He secretly fears that his inclusion in their lives as their lover is something that the twins will eventually tire of. But as the year progresses Whit comes to realize that they both love him as much as he they, and that he has become the center between Grey’s earth and Raine’s sky.
The Center of Earth and Sky by Sean Michael takes the reader on a journey into fantasy, the sensual and the erotic. In this story Michael has written a magical tale of love, passion and sex. The story is dream-like in its quality and full of beautiful images that assault all of the senses.
Readers familiar with the author’s work will immediately recognize that the style of writing in The Center of Earth and Sky is very reminiscent of the Jarheads series in that the story is written as a series of sexual encounters between Raine, Grey and Whit and in which characterization is established mainly through dialogue and personal introspection. The story is told from the perspective of all three characters.
There is an ethereal quality to the story that serves to enhance the fantasy of it. Once again very reminiscent of some of Michael’s other works, the story also has a cocooning feel to it whereby the characters are completely immersed in their own world even though peripherally the reader understands that all three lead lives on the outside. Finally, owing to Raine and Grey’s Native American roots (the location of their place of birth intimates that they are Navajo), Michael also lightly infuses this story with aspects of Navajo beliefs and way of life, which not only serve as a means of better understanding Raine and Grey’s outlook on life, love and their relationships, but also adds a thread of the spiritual to the overall story.
While this story explicitly deals with twincest, I did not feel that the author’s treatment of this was either exploitative or used as a means of titillation, but rather demonstrates that Raine and Grey’s sexual relationship is a fundamental aspect of both characters and their outlook on life, as well as an expression and extension of their closeness.
I consider The Center of Earth and Sky as representing some of Sean Michael’s best and most beautifully written stories. It is full of erotic and sensual images that draw the reader into the story from the very beginning and completely envelop the reader into the lives and experiences of these characters. But not all is of fantasy in this story as the author well nuances the dynamics of the relationship between Raine and Grey, which has its bumps because as brothers they do argue and disagree, as well as the angst that Whit experiences in trying to find his rightful place within the threesome over the course of the story. Finally, there is also a bit of foreshadowing of some darker events to come in the sequel, Painting The Desert, which will shake all three men to the core.
I highly recommend The Center of Earth and Sky as not only a must read by this author but also as one within the mm/ sub-genre as a whole.
The Center of Earth and Sky and its sequel Painting the Desert by Sean Michael are available at Torquere Press in a combined book entitled Center, in both ebook format and in print.