Rating: 4 stars
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My Regelence Rake continues J.L. Langley’s excellent Sci-Regency series about a futuristic world that follows traditional a Regency England lifestyle, with the twist of being largely populated by gay men. In this third book, the action returns to the planet Regelence and the focus of the story is on Colton, another of the Townsend princes, and Sebastian Hastings, the head of the castle guard. Colton has been pining away for Sebastian since he was a young teen, but his affections have always gone unreturned. As the story starts, Colton decides that it is finally time to move on and accept the fact that a relationship between them is not to be. Yet just as he gives up hope, Sebastian begins to see Colton in a new light, and it turns out the older man has feelings for him after all.
Although Sebastian has begun to return Colton’s feelings, his main priority is to protect Colton and the rest of the royal family from the growing threats from sources unknown. They have learned that there is an ongoing conspiracy involving the Intergalactic Navy and the family is threatened. The King has been followed and allies are turning up missing. Sebastian has had to increase palace security and even bring in some of his old military friends to help with the guard. At the same time, someone from Sebastian’s past is stirring up trouble. Rumors begin flying about Sebastian and Colton, threatening the young prince’s reputation and forcing the couple to marry. But even when the men are finally together as they both have wanted, secrets from Sebastian’s past threaten to drive a wedge between them. Sebastian must decide if he can trust in Colton’s love enough to share the truth, or whether the secrets will drive them apart.
I truly adore this series and I have been eagerly awaiting this latest book for a long time. I think Langley has created such a wonderful world here and the Townsend family continues to delight me. That being said, I didn’t find this installment quite as good as the previous two. Part of the problem is that I didn’t really connect with Colton and Sebastian as much as the couples in previous stories. Colton is a likable guy, but he just didn’t have the same spark for me as his brothers. His interest has always been in horses and a lot of the focus of the book is on his goal to develop a racing stud and to breed racehorses. We get a lot of detail on this which slowed things down quite a lot for me. And Sebastian is also a pleasant hero, but I had trouble warming up to him as well. I never really understood why all of a sudden he is interested in Colton after all these years, other than frustration that Colton is no longer interested in him. The two also kept going hot and cold, moving forward in their relationship, then deciding it will never work, then moving forward again. Once the guys are officially together, however, there is a lot of Langley’s trademark heat between them. I love the dynamic of the older, experienced man with the younger more sheltered one, and once again the author does it very well here. Sebastian and Colton are sweet and romantic, as well as incredibly hot together.
Once again the highlight of the book for me is the Townsend family itself. I continue to love the relationship between the patriarchs, Steven and Raleigh, and adore Nate and Aiden, who we see quite a lot in this book. And I am so excited over Rexley and Jeremy (and can not WAIT for their book). The family dynamic continues to be a mixture of playful and mischievous, while at the same time so clearly full of love. I will say though I was a bit frustrated with Steven here though. I get that he is a bit meddling, but the idea that he is going so far as to push Sebastian and Colton together just seemed too far fetched for me to believe. This is a young man who can not go outside during a ball without a chaperone, who can’t be in a group of men his age without risking his reputation. Yet his father is willing to throw Colton with Sebastian, let them kiss and get into other compromising situations without worry? Especially considering mere rumors are enough to ultimately force the men to marry, the idea that he would be so cavalier with Colton’s reputation seemed way out of character for Steven.
My only other wish is that we would have had more progress on the overarching espionage plot that has carried throughout the series. Most of the external conflict focuses on Sebastian and his past and the threats that follow and we only get a bit of detail on the larger investigation. After having it play such a key role in the previous books, I felt it sort of stalled a little here.
All that being said, there is no way I would have missed this book. If you are a fan of the series as I am, it is a wonderful opportunity to catch up with this engaging family and the wonderful world Langley has created. And if you haven’t read any of them yet, I encourage you to go back to the first book and start because it is truly a fabulous and inventive series.