Review: Convincing Leopold by Ava March

Buy Link: Convincing Leopold
Author: Ava March
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: Novella

Rating: 4.5

***This story has spoilers from the first book, Convincing Arthur***

Convincing Leopold picks up about three months after the end of Convincing Arthur.  More than just a sequel, this book is really Part II of the story of Leopold Thornton and Arthur Barrington’s relationship.  It focuses on the real life that happens at the end of a typical romance novel, after the characters commit to each other and ride off into the sunset. As much as both men care for each other, their relationship is struggling, mostly due to the anxieties and insecurities each man brings.  (As an aside, if you haven’t read the first book, I think you would miss a lot of the nuance and understanding of their actions because so much is based on their history from the first story.)

The book begins with Arthur just exhausted.  He is working crazy hours as a solicitor and struggling to balance his job with time with Leopold.  Arthur is noticing a restlessness from Leopold, and whereas in the first months of their relationship the couple often shared quiet down time, now all Leopold seems to want is sex every night.  And although the sex is hot and Leopold is a major turn on, Arthur would like the occasional quiet evening of just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

Leopold, on the other hand, is terrified he is losing Arthur. As the son of a wealthy lord, he lived a wild and indulgent lifestyle before settling down with Arthur.  He worries he has nothing to offer Arthur but sex and sees Arthur’s preoccupation with work as a sign the man is losing interest in him.  His response is it throw himself into seducing Arthur whenever possible, seeking reassurance that he is still wanted.

I really loved how March carried through on each man’s character and experiences from the first book and the way that shaped their reactions here.  Leopold falls back on sex because he knows that is what originally brought Arthur to him.  When they first get together, all Arthur is expecting is some hot sex before going off to find another man with whom to settle down. And Leopold had spent years falling in and out of bed with people, having a series of one night stands.  He doesn’t see any value in himself other than what he can provide sexually. So it makes total sense that this is what he turns to when he fears Arthur is pulling away.

Arthur, on the other hand, struggles with the fear of being hurt.  After his breakup with Amherst months before, he worries he will once again fall in love with a partner who isn’t truly committed to him.  He views Leopold’s restlessness and strange behavior as a sign that the relationship is not working and all his old fears come to the surface. He gets more and more frustrated that all Leopold seems to want is sex and that he doesn’t seem to understand that Arthur wants the simple things too – someone there when he comes home, someone to share a meal or a quiet evening with, etc.

I loved the realism to how Arthur feels.  Let’s be honest, only in romance novels do people want to have sex constantly. In real life people are sometimes too tired, sometime not in the mood. Arthur is overworked and exhausted and it makes perfect sense that he would sometimes just want a night of quiet companionship rather than hot sex.

I found myself frustrated at times with Arthur though.  He is very clear in his mind what he wants, yet he never conveys it to Leopold.  On several occasions Leopold is trying to seduce him and Arthur won’t tell him he is not in the mood.  Even more frustrating, he allows himself to be seduced, then gets annoyed afterwards and blames it all on Leopold.  He doesn’t seem to see his role in the dynamic or accept responsibility for it.  However that realization does come in time after the conflicts between the men become impossible to ignore.

But Arthur had pushed him away. Had pushed away a man who would have loved him until the end of his days. He had been so afraid of repeating the mistakes he had made with Randolph. So scared of being left alone with a broken heart. Yet here he sat, alone, his heart howling in misery, and it was all his own doing.

He hadn’t loved Thorn as he deserved. Hadn’t treasured him or cherished him. He had been too busy looking for faults, bracing for Thorn to fail.

I really liked how both Leopold and Arthur are finally able to see how their anxieties are shaping their behavior and how the men move past their insecurities to try to resolve their problems. They talk about their fears and what they really want from each other and end up even better than before.

Overall I really liked this book. I worried a bit in the middle that Arthur would be too self-rightous and never see his role in the relationship dynamic, but fortunately that proved not to be the case.  Convincing Leopold is a great companion to Convincing Arthur.  It does a wonderful job of showing how it can be difficult to sustain a relationship over the long term, and how each partner plays a role in making this work.  Recommended read.

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