Less Than All by Lee Brazil began as a itty bitty picture prompt and blossomed in to a piece of historical fiction that blazed across the page with passion, angry denial, and sweet submission. It is the story of two men in a time when Lords and Ladies graced society en masse and rigid propriety ruled the English upper class with an iron fist.
Lord Victor Ware, while entertaining his nephew and heir Peter and one of his classmates, Nicholas Danville, finds himself lusting after the sharp-tongued youthful friend. As the story begins, Victor happens upon the two boys in a “compromising” position in the hayloft. Despite of, or perhaps more appropriately because of his own attraction, Victor decides to send the Danville boy packing with a stern admonition that what he was doing with Peter was wrong. A bit of a hypocrite was our Lord Ware!
The story now proceeds in three sections—almost tiny novellas in their own right. Through the use of individual vignettes, we see pieces of our two main characters’ personalities begin to emerge. We ache for Nicky who is so in love with Victor yet so aware that his lover must marry one day to produce the needed heir in waiting. Brazil writes of a time when societal demands trumped individual desires; where two men in love meant prison, banishment, loss of society and its comforts.
Nicky is painfully aware of these demands every time he embraces his lover. He wars with himself—to give his heart and himself fully to Victor or hold back, in the hopes of sparing himself disastrous pain and sorrow.
I want to take a moment to comment here on how the author uses the idea of Nicky’s virginity not as a bargaining tool with which Nicky can gain promises of a future together with Victor, but instead as an ultimate gift to be bestowed. The loss of Nicky’s virginity is a touch point for this couple’s relationship—causing anger, angst and, in the end, incredible tenderness. I loved watching this relationship grow and change.
Perhaps the only drawback of the format of this novel was the choppiness that sometimes accompanied the three sections or acts of the story. There was a certain amount or revisiting of past events or emotions that tended to be repetitive at times. However, this was a minor niggle when it came up against the over all quality of writing and depth of characterization and plot development.
In the end, Less Than All by Lee Brazil was a well written love story from the past that reminds us all how much we must continue now and in the future to appreciate and support the rights of those who choose to love under the colors of the rainbow.