As a young man, Sir Gabriel Winters left behind his status as a gentleman, turning his back on his secret desires and taking a self-imposed vow of celibacy. Now a chaste hard-working vicar, his reputation is beyond reproach. But, try as he might, he’s never forgotten the man he once desired or the pain of being abandoned by his first love.
Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Caddonfell, is a notorious rake, delighting in scandal no matter the consequence. With a price on his head, he flees to the countryside, forced to keep his presence a secret or risk assassination. When Edward finds Gabriel on his estate, burning with fever, he cannot leave him to die, but taking him in puts them both in jeopardy.
With the help of a notorious blackmailer, a society of rich and famous gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, and a kitten named Buttons, they might just manage to save Edward’s life—but the greatest threat may be to their hearts.
I love historicals, and yes, I say that every time, but it truly makes me happy to read an m/m historical. Because I know there are people out there that believe that being anywhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum is only a thing that has been around for 20-40 years. It’s not, there is evidence, lots of evidence dating back as far as historical records, and even further back before paper could record anything.
This book was so well written, and yes, it’s a debut book by this author, but it was just so well done. The characters were so rich and had depth, but also kept true to themselves, even as their worlds were crumbling around them in one way or another.
The fact that Gabriel and Edward knew each other as children really helped this story to feel true to the time period of the book. They likely would not have crossed paths much at a later point in their life, despite the mess that Edward found himself in. Maurice was a conundrum to me. He supported his brother no matter what, but seemed to have a bit of an icy heart…until he looked into someone else’s eyes. 🙂
The background mystery, I will say, did get a bit confusing for me, and I was surprised at the end. However, following along with the suspense seemed to really take some of the focus away from the romance for me. Some of the questions weren’t answered, some were cleaned up quite neatly.
Also, there was a cute cat, and that should be worth an additional 1/2 star there. 🙂
All in all, I thought this book was well done, and fully fleshed characters. Just needed a little more smoothing of the suspense for me.
4 pieces of eye candy