This book is like an m/m version of a lovingly produced (and very leisurely paced) BBC production. But although a bit slow, it's still an enjoyable historical romance, and would probably meet the needs well for anyone wanting some good Regency-era romance.
The story focuses on depressed Sir Alan, sent back from the battlefield with his injuries and still haunted by what he saw. Feeling like life can’t get any lower, he requests the company of a male prostitute before planning to kill himself. In enters Jem into his life, like a much needed blast of spirit and energy. Jem’s services and boisterous nature delay Alan’s later plans for death, and things are soon spinning beyond what he could ever conceive as he brings Jem into his household as his valet. Throw in that mix a search for a missing girl, a Very Evil Doctor, and two men falling in love, and you have what feels like a multi-episode miniseries that’s rich in detail and quite saucy in its sexy interludes.
I enjoyed the book, and Jem is totally a gem of a character--bright, funny, and charming, with that hint of a dark past that he tries not to bring up or think about too much. In comparison to shining Jem, dour Alan seems even more morose. He lightens up eventually, but it felt like Jem was carrying much of the book as he burrowed into Alan’s life and inadvertently propelled him to recognize that there is much to live for.
My other beef with Alan is that I felt like he has the least to lose whereas Jem had the most. If caught, Alan would fall into scandal, but Jem risks falling back into poverty and prostitution. I was happy for that much earned HEA, especially after such a tense climax with the villain, but I feel like Alan never had to really unpack his “privilege backpack” and really understand Jem’s precarious existence in his life. Good thing there’s love. Hope it lasts!!
That latter point is probably more historically accurate, but at the same time, the romantic in me wants everything fixed and equal and perfect, which is probably too much to hope for if you’re going for anything realistic in your BBC production.
If you like lush historicals though, this would definitely fit the bill, and I’m definitely interested in checking out more from these authors.