Author: K.J. Charles
Cover Artist: Design: Caroline Teagle; Photograph: Period Images
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/05/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Drama, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, Historical, Regency
Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.
For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.
This is the third book in this series and it felt more personal than the others. David and Richard are the main focus, with most events surrounding or involving them both. Even the outside pressures on their relationship are more personal, not due to political or government bodies imposing their will but, from close friends and not always so close family ties. Insular. Everything is centered around what’s happening between David and Richard.
This approach to telling this story also made it feel, in some ways, less ‘historical’ than the others. Yes, detail is there, but when you’re talking about what’s happening between two people, so intimately, in every sense, the wider setting fades to the edges. This isn’t good or bad, it just is. I think it plays well into how focused the story is on David and Richard. I know it made me feel like I was deeply connected, involved, feeling everything they were feeling. Make no mistake, the life and death restrictions put upon gay people two centuries ago are there, but they appear only now and again, which helps heighten the tension, adding to the highly personal nature of this story.
This is such an interesting examination of a relationship, and how it changes or redefines itself over time. Here we have two men who have known each other in nearly every way imaginable for several years. And yet, when they attempt to forge that last river of honesty, they struggle, they stumble, and neither is certain at all how to go about it. How do they relate to one another? Is it realistic or just a folly to hope they can live their lives together? What will each of their roles be, both within the relationship and to outward society? With their friends?
David is such a strong person. In his beliefs and convictions, he doesn’t have much room for compromise. He knows what all he’s done, what life he’s built for himself, and he’s not about to lose it or become less than what he is. He’s unrelenting and I love how that plays against Richard’s sometimes stupidity or obtuseness, or simply his being unaware due to his station in life, and what that meant regarding his childhood, what he was taught to expect, and see.
Family dynamics are another interesting thing explored, especially when comparing those of Richard and David. Without being overdone, the families of these men play large roles in who they are, how they came to be who they are, and some of the decisions they make about their futures.
I find myself wanting to call this story subtle, quiet, subdued, and yet I can’t when I think back the events, and the emotion, and what’s at stake. Despite that, this is how I felt while reading this: quiet, subdued, almost cocooned within it. I think this all means that the storytelling style very well matches this story that is David and Richard. I would almost say this could become a comfort read, given the way it made me feel.
You could probably read this as a standalone, given how much of a focus David and Richard are, and that characters from the previous two books have comparatively less page time. Don’t worry, though, your favorites are here and they all make quite the impact.
KJ Charles has something inside of her that makes it possible to share a story like this and completely suck me in. Any imperfections are quickly forgotten amidst the emotion, the intricately built characters, and the all-surrounding sense of place on every page. I will read this book again, knowing I’ll be getting to spend time with David and Richard.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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