When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.
After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.
Historic, M/M, GLBT+
264 e-book pages
Series, book 1
November 9-10, 2015
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Let me lay a little somthin’ out for you before I get to the book because I’ve been fumbling about with this review off and on all day.
I’m coming at this book from an angle of M/M being most of what I read these days and a very strong desire to read this author’s work. However, I have a relatively strong dislike of historical romance, specifically the Regency period. I’ve put this book off for months.
I’ve read a few—even completed a few series. I called it quits on books in this time frame in early 2013 but was mentally quite done with it in 2012. My “Regency” shelf (prior to this book) holds 18 books; some DNF, and none over three stars—and that was being generous. I’ve read more, but that’s before I started cataloging my books.
Many were free at a time when free was nearly all I could afford.
Looking at that shelf today for the first time in years there’s not much I remember about them. They all kind of blended together into a slurry of One Big Trope of Rakish Rogue And Plain-looking Virgin navigating the ton and so consumed with propriety and the delicacy of female sensibilities where the neatness of an embroidery stitch is prized over intellect. Every once in a while you get the brazen, wanton femme fatale fighting for her right to wear breeches and brandish a sword along side her Rogue Pirate/Cruel Captain…the nerve. Most of all, I remember them as tame little bodice rippers—except for one I see on the shelf that’s BDSM but questionably Regency. Blarh!
So yeah…the diving under fancy gowns and tearing at crinolines wasn’t enough to keep me. Instead, I found myself full of disdain and swearing to never return because none of them seemed to attempt to poke or nudge at the boundaries of the genre in a way that encouraged me to seek more.
But, here I am.
And guess what?
Hot freakin’ damn this book.
Turns out, I needed to be reading historic M/M and perhaps go on the prowl for some historic F/F.
Because yes, the gentlemanly sensibilities are there. So is the ton and all the propriety of the era where any misstep is catastrophic to reputation and standing. Blah, blah, blah.
But! It reminded me why I so much prefer M/M these days. Men generally don’t have to be quite as delicate with each other’s feelings (they DO…but not to tropey feminine extremes). They tend to be more refreshingly frank and honest about themselves when emotions are discussed—and the feels aren’t necessarily dissected to exhaustion. The sex tends to be more raw because a harder grip on the hips and thighs isn’t as likely to leave unwanted bruises. The heroes tend to be on more equal footing and have more freedom to be smarter and more capable. They get far more respect from me than heroines who are too stupid to live. The obstacles in M/M romance are sometimes similar to M/F with a few twists but are also wide open to so many more possibilities.
I thought this was brilliantly written and I was engaged from beginning to end.
I loved the sex scenes—some were so polite they made me chuckle. But more than that, they were intimate and raw with passion—and sometimes their hesitancy.
I liked the premise of the guttersnipe rags to riches/Pygmalion story line. I kind of wish there had been a tad more of the transformation to gentleman because it seemed too easy when it was all said and done. “High Society” is freaking HARD to navigate these days—it had to have been immensely more difficult back then coming from such a lower social class.
I liked the rabble-rousing sedition and politicking, which…well, that was very much a parallel to some of the crap going on today.
I liked the scenes with the puce coat. I like puce…it looks good on me with my skin tone and hair color so don’t hate on puce. Admittedly, the name sucks—and the origins of the word are vile.
I find books with closeted heroes bothersome mainly because of the way (in my opinion) it’s often mishandled in contemporary romance. Here in this era though—and likely all historicals— the possibility of coming out of the closet and living a fully honest life is not even on the table. I find that deplorable on principle, but I thought it was interesting to see these heroes navigate to an HEA they could live with in a time, and society, that was so steadfastly unforgiving.
All said and done, I’m sold on following the series.
This review also posted on GoodReads and a partial review on Amazon.