Rating: 4.25 stars
This third book of the Brook Street trilogy features Linus Radcliffe and Robert Anderson, side characters we meet briefly in the first two books of the series (see reviews for books 1 and 2). The men have been best friends since childhood, live next door to each other, and are basically inseparable. They share clothes, have keys to each other’s homes, and Rob even uses Linus’ servants. Their close bond is well known and incredibly important to them.
Along with being best of friends, the men are also occasional lovers. While Linus is exclusively attracted to men, Rob’s relationships are only with women with the exception of Linus. When the book begins, we learn that Rob has become increasingly jealous and unhappy watching Linus go off time and again with a new man. Rob realizes that he wants Linus for himself, and asks that they become exclusive lovers. But Linus is wary of getting involved in a romantic relationship with Rob. Linus had long ago accepted that there would be nothing more between them than friendship, and he is afraid his heart will be broken if he gets involved more seriously with Rob only to be left when Rob’s notoriously short-term attentions fade.
When Linus turns him down, Rob becomes even more determined to pursue a relationship. But Linus knows Rob’s competitive side, the one who pursues women he thinks he can’t have. He worries that Rob’s determination is not about love, but just about wanting have Linus. Linus also worries that Rob will ultimately want to be with a woman, get married and have a family, and not be able to handle a long-term, secret relationship with a man. But when Rob takes some time to reflect on what he wants, he realizes that he truly wants to be with Linus forever. The difficulty will be making Linus understand he is sincere and convince him to take a chance on Rob’s love.
This is an interesting story, because while it is not a “big misunderstanding” book, it does hold together based on each man not really getting what is motivating the other. Linus thinks Rob only wants him because he can’t have him. He doesn’t realize Rob’s feelings have changed, and Linus is fearful of taking a chance on a man he fears will leave him. And Rob truly doesn’t understand what it is that is making Linus wary about the relationship, so he doesn’t know how to convince him of his sincerity. While this confusion carries a lot of the story, the men work through their issues as the book develops, so I didn’t feel like we were bogged down at a crossroads. I really appreciated that Rob takes the time to reflect on what he really wants from Linus, making sure that he is ready to really commit to him before continuing to push for a relationship.
I really liked the best friends element to the story. March does a great job of showing the easy familiarity between the men and the bond they share is obvious. I loved the little details, like the sharing of clothes, and that Linus bought the house next door just so they can live near one another. Their friendship, and even their occasional sexual relationship, felt very natural.
For me the story could have been tightened up a bit though. When Linus rejects Rob’s initial proposal, Rob is absolutely certain it isn’t just because he doesn’t want the relationship, but there must be something more. Of course, there was a fear hidden there causing Linus’ behavior, but it seemed strange to me that Rob was so confident and unwilling to take no for an answer, basically stalking Linus to get him to give in. I also think some of Linus’ issues were a little muddy. He had a very difficult childhood and a lot of that pain colors his reactions and feelings about taking a chance on Rob. But I wish things had been drawn a bit clearer; it seemed like a lot of issues thrown together and I had a bit of trouble following all the pieces.
Overall I enjoyed Rogues and thought it was a really nice end to a great series. The three books tie together nicely, but still allow readers to jump in and pick up any of them with no problems. I really liked these Brook Street books and would definitely recommend the series.