Captain Charles Hawkins has returned from the Napoleonic wars desperate for solitude. When the man who saved his life asks a favour, he feels honour bound to agree, but the request fills him with horror.
Sebastian Farrah knows the only useful thing he can do with his life is join Wellington’s army. He has tried everything else and failed. He agrees to his brother’s ridiculous request to spend a month in the country because it is the only way his brother will agree to purchase him a commission.
Charles and Sebastian clash but quickly form a bond that deepens into much more. However, they are running out of time. Charles begs Sebastian to stay, but Sebastian knows to do so he will be forced to reveal what it is that stopped him from succeeding in everything. The shameful secret he carries from the schoolroom.
Length: 32,000 words approx.
Publisher: JMS Books
Another week passed, and Farrah had become an integral part of the household. He was everywhere. Working in the garden, eating with him, accompanying him when he left the house to tour around the estate, working with him with the shipping company, although he was still curiously resistant about that. Charles watched him apply himself to his evening meal with gusto. The man ate like a horse but hadn’t a spare inch on his frame. All the physical work meant that he had arrived in reasonable shape for someone who did nothing but gamble and drink, but now, now he was bursting with good health, humour, and a physique that made Charles want to weep with envy as he thought about his own skeletal frame. There was a warmth to his companionship that made getting up in a morning easier. He realised just how much he was enjoying having him in the house. As they talked, he hoped that he was helping Farrah to see that there were options open to him that didn’t involve him risking his life on the continent. To see that there were a whole host of things that he was good at. Farrah’s comment about the army being all he was good for had stayed with him and it surprised him how annoyed it made him that his family had allowed him to feel that way, and constantly surprised that Farrah seemed to believe it.
Coulson arrived with the tea tray and Charles smiled as he realised Farrah had lost that slightly frantic look he’d had on realising there was no port or brandy on his arrival. When Coulson had retreated, Charles raised his cup in a toast.
“Congratulations on another sterling week Mr Farrah.”
Farrah laughed and raised his cup in response. “Congratulations on putting up with me for another week. You deserve a medal, Captain Hawkins.”
“Nonsense. No medals required.”
Farrah tilted his head on one side and observed him. “You really are the best of men. I know I’m not easy to have around. Too loud, too … much.” He laughed again.
And there he went again. He really seemed to believe that his company would not be valued. That he would be some sort of burden. Charles was stunned when he realised that in that moment he wanted nothing more than to take him in his arms and tell him in no uncertain terms that having him in the house was no hardship, and not only that, he discovered he wanted to hunt down the people who had told him that he was a burden, or a nuisance, and hurt them. It was a disconcerting.
He had to fight to retain his composure and answer in kind. “Piffle. You’ve brightened the place up no end. Once you’d sobered up, that is.” He kept his tone light, but his heart was thumping.
For a big, handsome, seemingly confident man sometimes there was a hint of such wistfulness about him, and it was there full force in that softly spoken word. It was filled with such fragile hope it hurt something inside Charles.
“Really.” Charles spoke softly and something in Farrah brightened. “Now, stop fishing for compliments and tell me what the plan for tomorrow is.” He had to resume his usual brisk tone because if he didn’t, he would have … Charles’ heart stopped in his chest. Oh God. Oh God.
He wanted to kiss him.
Charles is a war veteran and while he was saved by fellow officer Edward, most of the men under him perished. Charles owes Edward a lot and feels compelled to do him a favor even though it makes him exceedingly uncomfortable: put Edward’s wastrel younger brother up for a month at his country home. Edward hopes the time spent with upstanding Charles will help straighten out his brother, Sebastian, while dissuading him from wanting to join the army.
Sebastian has spent his life not succeeding in anything he tries: school, the clergy, business. Instead he spends his time drinking, gambling and generally wasting away. But now he’s decided the thing for him is to join that army, something his brother is adamantly opposed to after losing two other brothers in the war. Sebastian agrees to spend a month with a friend of his brother and if he can go a whole 30 days without making a nuisance of himself, his father will purchase him a commission.
This was a story where the two MCs have issues that hurt my heart. Charles suffers from PTSD and survivors guilty and prefers to spend his life as a recluse. If you don’t care about people, they can’t hurt you. Sebastian has been told his whole life what a mess he makes of everything, and we learn eventually (spoiler, though you can kind of guess this) he has dyslexia and never learned to read properly. Charles and Sebastian get off on a wrong foot initially, but they quickly form a bond and something more. I love when the MCs help the other recover from childhood and adult hurts as no other person can. I want to hug Sebastian for all the rejection he went through his whole life because no one understood that he wasn’t stupid, he needed special help learning to read. It’s so interesting to me to see historicals address what we today label PTSD and how it was thought of and dealt with in the past. My guess is not very well and it was widely misunderstood and for that Charles gets a hug from me, too.
I love historicals. This was a lovely read with secondary characters I wouldn’t mind seeing more of. I did think it was a little farfetched that one MC would be so open about his preference for other men to near strangers, but I was able to overlook it and overall, I liked it.
3.5 pieces of eye candy
August 25 – My Fiction Nook, Xtreme Delusions, August 27 – Two Chicks Obsessed, August 29 – Making It Happen, August 31 – Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, September 3 – Mirrigold, Sexy Erotic Xciting, Valerie Ullmer, Bayou Book Junkie, Lillian Francis
My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head…he probably has a point!
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