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James Cumes

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Member Since: Jun, 2001

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The Hedonists
by James Cumes   

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Publisher:  Crystal Dreams Publications Type: 


Copyright:  Mar 14 2003

A story of unrequited love, sex and diplomacy

The Hedonists is a rollicking story of sex and diplomacy in the lives of two dedicated pleasure-seekers: Randall Pascoe Maitland, a young diplomatist who sprinkles his erotic escapades with occasional prickings of conscience and even fewer acts of heroism; and Howard Winston Jocelyn The Third, an up-and-coming executive and ex-Don Juan, now obsessed with a she-devil. Traversing a largely joyous and self-indulgent world, they journey together from Africa via New York and Mexico, to a rambunctious finale in Mugga Way, in far-off Australia. On the way, a beautiful playmate, Angela, recants and shows them another road. Do they take it? Every dedicated, wannabe and closet hedonist will enjoy this fascinating romp towards an answer, supplied by a former Ambassador whose story gives some credence to Angela's claim that "diplomats are the crap end of humanity."

It's a hot, hot morning. The sun is not yet high, but the air steams. She has thrown the top sheet aside. She examines a mark on her naked thigh. Decides it's neither dangerous nor permanent. She reaches for her knickers. "And....?" The man who speaks is seated some distance from the bed. Tall and strong-looking, he's unmoved by her availability. He's in a situation to which he's become used, so now it's an unexciting routine. Not boring. He enjoys being with her.

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Reader Reviews for "The Hedonists"

Reviewed by James Cumes 9/20/2003

A review of The Hedonists by James Cumes

This isn't a book about plot anyway. It's about observation, about wit, about enjoying the beauty of the English language when it's employed by a master wordsmith.

Reviewed by Michael LaRocca
by James Cumes
Paperback: 452 pages
Crystal Dreams Publishing; (April 2003)
ISBN: 1591460174

Yet again, I've been called upon to review a book that is much easier to read and enjoy than it is to describe. But, I shall do what I can.

James Cumes excels in creating characters who are real, vivid, alive. They are not characters. They are people. Throughout this novel, they often seemed more real to me than many whom I've actually met in my life. This book shines with subtle humor, unflinching honesty, and world travel and world-weary cynicism.

Randall Pascoe Maitland is an Australian diplomat who rollicks from a post in the heart of Europe, to Africa, to the United Nations in New York, to Mexico, across the Pacific in a transit of Venus, to a climactic riot of sex at a party in Mugga Way, at the heart of Australia'a national capital, Canberra. Most of the time he dwells, in a protocol sense, in the shadow of his Ambassador, Richard Makepeace - as Randall sees him, a Makepeace always on the make. Through Randall's eyes, the reader enjoys a behind-the-scenes look at what happens in diplomatic life, at the UN and elsewhere. The author knows of what he speaks, and I don't need to look at his bio to say that.

Randall is also a hedonist who, as the book opens, is enjoying an affair with a married woman. But, he's only a minor hedonist. Oh, he'd like to be a major hedonist, but he just doesn't have the innate charisma of Howard Winston Jocelyn the Third, the 38-year-old bachelor to whom many look as their champion. Never get involved, never make a commitment, just enjoy all the physical pleasures both overt and subtle that the opposite sex has to offer.

However, Howard has fallen from grace. He's fallen in love with the mysterious Anika. The story is told through Randall's eyes. Randall admits that Anika is beautiful, though not as beautiful as the numerous others who have graced Howard's bed. But mainly, Anika is a she-devil. Anyone who could bewitch Howard so thoroughly, and turn him monogamous without surrendering her virginity to him, must surely be a she-devil.

That may not sound like a new plot, but that's because there are no new plots. This isn't a book about plot anyway. It's about observation, about wit, about enjoying the beauty of the English language when it's employed by a master wordsmith. I believe the author could make a cereal box interesting reading, and he has far more to work with in this novel than a cereal box.

Are the characters sexist? Absolutely. The women as well as the men. Is the author sexist? Not at all. He's honest, as every writer should be. That is our job, folks. He's showing us life. Maybe the reader's life, maybe something the polar opposite, but it's real life.

The book may entertain you, thrill you, or offend you. Maybe all of the above, maybe all at the same time. But it will affect you. It will stir you. You will think about it after you read it. You will think about it while you read it. And, you will remember it.

For more information visit: The Hedonists
or visit one of the author's websites: j.htm

About the reviewer: Michael LaRocca, an American, is the brilliant author of the widely acclaimed RISING FROM THE ASHES,
AN AMERICAN REDNECK IN HONG KONG, THE CHRONICLES OF A MADMAN, and VIGILANTE JUSTICE, the latter of which was an EPPIE 2002 finalist. He also wrote HOW TO GET PUBLISHED, winner of two Sime~Gen Reviewers Choice
Awards. His website,,
was listed as one of THE BEST 101 WEBSITES FOR WRITERS by Writers Digest in 2001 and 2002. He is also an editor, a teacher of English and an active participant in several publishing enterprises of quality. He has been a long-time member of the Hong Kong Writer's Circle. He has edited for CrossroadsPub, and currently edits for Hard Shell Word Factory and Books Unbound. He has taught Advanced English Writing at the Zhejiang Institute of Science and Technology since September 2002.
Reviewed by Victoria Murray 10/17/2001
It sounds like a wonderful romantic story--one that I can't wait to read!
Victoria Taylor Murray
'Thief Of Hearts'

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