Rating: 5 stars
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The Englor Affair picks up a few months after My Fair Captain ends. Prince Payton Townsend has been sent on an undercover mission with his brother-in-law, Admiral Nathaniel Hawkins. His mission is to decipher a message intercepted by Nate’s son and his consort when they were kidnapped months ago. Being that the code is Englorian, Payton has been trusted with the undercover assignment, taking on the role of Lieutenant Payton Jeffers, aide to Admiral Hawkins. Evidence suggests that Colonel Simon Hollister, heir to the Englor throne, may be involved in whatever scheme the Intergalactic Navy (IN) is plotting. Payton’s secondary mission is to keep his ears open and help Nate figure out if Simon is an ally or an enemy.
Simon has been waiting for months to hear from the undercover operative he sent to Regelence. After having heard from him regularly, having all communication cut off is disturbing and a little frightening for the fate of the spy. When Simon hears that newly appointed Admiral Hawkins is visiting the Englor Marine/IN base, he is sure that this visit is more than a simple inspection. Did the leaders of Regelence discover his operative? Is Regelence working the IN? Can Simon trust the Admiral? Simon suspects that Admiral Hawkins may have discovered his spy, and that the Admiral has either the interest of Regelence or the IN at heart while visiting Englor.
Payton made his first trip to the base gym with the goal of listening to gossip among the Marines and IN soldiers. He didn’t expect to be hit on by the glorious redhead who introduced himself as “Si.” Simon doesn’t share either of his titles with Payton in hopes of remaining a normal guy in Payton’s eyes. After a few meetings in the gym, Si discovers that Payton works for the Admiral, and he and Nate are allies. Payton also eventually discovers that the man he knows as Si is actually Colonel Simon Hollister, although Payton still hasn’t revealed his true identity for fear of rejection by the Englor prince. Working together to try and discover what the IN is up to makes an already burning attraction stronger.
Simon has always known that he would eventually be expected to take a wife and produce an heir, but there is something about Payton that makes Simon wish for a future with him. For Payton’s part, if he only has a short length of time as Simon’s lover, he will take it regardless of the consequences. No one has to know that he has been compromised. Simon never has to know that he is a Prince of Regelence. In the here and now, Payton just wants to experience what he is sure to be love with a man he may never see again once he leaves Englor.
The Englor Affair is the second book in J.L. Langley’s Sci-Regency series and my favorite of the three so far. There are so many wonderful things about this book that I want to note, but I also don’t want to give away any spoilers to those of you who have yet to read it. First of all, I will say that before I began this series, I had no interest in science-fiction or period pieces, but I am a huge fan of this author’s work, so I finally decided to give the series a shot and it is now one of my favorites. I wait with bated breath for the next installment. And, as a side note, I would advise you to read all of the books in order or you will not understand half of what is happening.
Englor is a planet much like Regelence. It is even modeled after Regency-era England, complete with a Regency society. The world building in this book amazes me. It is a mixture of old and new, past and future. Royalty and Parliament rule the planet. Lords and ladies of the ton rule society. Gaming hells are full of all sorts of debauchery. The speech is mostly of the Regency period, yet the some of the the curse words are so creative for the time – Dust, Galaxy, and Imploding Planets are only a few. Parties and balls are the place to make marriage matches. Yet, Englor is also futuristic, including flying lifts for travel, although horses are still used, as well. Most residences have a computerized butler that has its own unique personality and acts as the head butler, security, electronic storage, chaperone, and a sort of personal computer. I would like to note that Dunston, Si’s butler, is my very favorite. His personality far outweighs any of the butlers so far within the series. Com pads are a sort of touch screen personal computer that Payton uses to access everything. Englor, and Regency for that matter, is so very fantastic and imaginative.
The author has a way of building characters in a way that makes me feel as if I know them. I love these two main characters, dearly. Payton is lost in this new world. He feels out of place because he’s not sure that he can be himself. On Englor, being gay is looked upon with severe distaste and Payton was raised in a society where homosexuality is the norm. In many ways, Payton is completely innocent. The first locker room scene is a great example.
Payton hitched his bag up again, held his chin up high and strolled right into the locker room…and almost swallowed his tongue. Good Galaxy, men were just walking around naked.
Payton’s innocence and hesitance is what attracts Simon to him initially. Simon is not only the Colonel of the Englor Marines, he is also next in line to the throne of Englor. The Simon in my head is a dream. His character is one of masculinity and strength, but also of gentleness and capable of true affection and love. He has a good head on his shoulders, despite being raised by a king and queen who had little regard for him. He is a wonderful leader, great friend, and fabulous lover.
The relationship between Simon and Payton is so precious. Simon first pursued Payton because of the challenge Payton posed. But the closer he gets to Payton and the more they work together, their relationship turns into something with meaning. And the love scenes between these two characters…I’m not sure if I can do them justice by saying that they are steamy. Langley creates a tension between these two men that is fire-hot and gentle at the same time. It’s quite beautiful. I like that their love is not insta-love and it is far from perfect. Lack of communication is their biggest problem. Insecurities on Payton’s part keep him from vocalizing his feelings for Simon; instead, he does everything that he can to show his love, but he doesn’t feel that it always enough. Simon is very protective of Payton. He doesn’t want to see Payton hurt so he tries to keep him in a bubble to keep him safe. The progression of their relationship is based on trust and it is not an easy road for either character.
There is a whole cast of secondary characters introduced in this book that I look forward to reading about in the future. Colonel Ansley Wycliffe, heir to the Duke of Ambreley, and Major Proctor “Roc” Bennett are Simon’s best friends and closest confidants. Even as secondary characters their personalities are distinct and I cannot wait to read more of these two in the future. Aldred Hollister, the Duke of St. Albins, is Simon’s uncle, confidant, and the only family Simon trusts. He is more of a parent to Simon than the king and queen have ever been, and Simon looks to him for advice and guidance. I sincerely hope to read a story about him. Nate’s father makes an appearance in this story as well, and although I’m not sure if he will get a story of his own, I do know that there is a Christmas short about him on the author’s blog last year.
There are two plots in this story – the love story and the continuing military/political mystery from the previous book. The love story is captivating from Payton and Simon’s first meeting. The attraction reels me in every time I read it. The progression, the slow burn that turns from lust to love, and even the scandal keeps me intrigued each time. But what I enjoy the most is the imperfection that is so perfect in this love story. Both Simon and Payton make mistakes and they overreact when they shouldn’t, but it all serves to make their love strong and most definitely believable. The mystery that was continued from the first book is very suspenseful, well thought out, and very well planned. As you may have guessed, I’ve read this series several times and I’m usually pretty good at figuring plots out before they actually happen, but this mystery has me stumped. And that is a big plus for me. There are so many twists and turns, so many puzzles to put together – I’ve just decided to sit back and enjoy the ride. And, most assuredly, this mystery is a wild, creative, and extremely imaginative ride.
The entire Sci-Regency series by J.L. Langley is a must read and an automatic buy for me. But as I said earlier, The Englor Affair is my favorite so far. It brings in such a rich and imaginative world, fabulous main and secondary characters, a beautiful and addicting love story, and heart-pounding and action-filled mystery. This second book of the series grabbed my attention and kept me fully immersed in this story and this world then entire time. I highly, highly recommend The Englor Affair, as well as the entire Sci-Regency series.
Note: This review was written for the version of the book released by Samhain Publishing. It has since been re-released by Dreamspinner Press.