Isaac Ashwood is a young man relying on Lord Edmund Bancroft’s patronage to attend school. He has been corresponding with Edmund throughout his years at school, and when Edmund invites him to spend the season before he heads to university in London, Isaac accepts. What he doesn’t expect is Edmund’s somewhat cold reception. And he really doesn’t expect Edmund’s friend, the very forward Gideon Heyes.
Isaac is expected to marry, but he has no inclination of the sort. When he meets Patience Fairweather, it’s clear they connect and begin a wonderful friendship. But Patience understands Isaac’s desire, and sets about to help him woo Edmund. Edmund still resists. And meanwhile Gideon is making his presence known, and turning Isaac’s head.
When Isaac’s father gets wind of what has been going on in London, he sends men to kidnap Isaac and bring him back. He’s determined to see his son married and give up his sinful ways. Even as Isaac escapes, this is a time when two men cannot openly express their affections. It seems like there is no way for any of these men to find happiness, until the solution presents itself.
This book started with a lot of promise. We are thrust into the world and into the three MCs’ minds right from the start. I found myself immersed from the beginning. But as the story progressed, it started to fall apart for me. Honestly, up until nearly the very end, this love triangle seemed like it would turn into a threesome and I was admittedly a bit disappointed that it didn’t. Couple that with an extra storyline that seemed almost to come out of nowhere, and the end of the book left me wanting.
Where the author excels is giving us a perfect glimpse into this Victorian world. The picture she paints with her words is lovely, and the characters are well drawn and wonderfully fleshed out. We get to know Isaac, Edmund, and Gideon incredibly well. Their wants, desires, and motivations are clear, and the characters are wonderfully consistent. The secondary characters add to the plot, especially Patience who was a fantastically drawn character. I loved being along with them as they sort out their troubles, flirt, and romance, and even as they try to navigate the social graces of the ton. This part worked exceedingly well for me, and I found myself drawn into the story.
But as the plot progressed, it was around the three quarters mark that I started getting frustrated with the lack of forward movement. The characters’ machinations started to become vague. I think this was supposed to intrigue and drive the plot, but I just found myself frustrated at not knowing what was going on. There’s something to be said about leaving the reader hanging on for information, but I think here there was a not quite enough given to have me at that point. I found myself reading faster, not because I was desperate to see how it all would play out, but because the lack of information made me frustrated and I wanted to know what the heck was going on so I could understand.
As I said, I thought this book was going to turn out to be a threesome. The author did such a good job of convincing me that these three men loved each other in their own way that I wanted them to figure out a way to all be together. When that didn’t happen, I felt let down and I couldn’t enjoy the ultimate pair’s love. The affection between them was very clear, and I think that they are a good match. But there wasn’t enough closure with both those men’s feeling for the third man, and his for them. It all felt unresolved, and the ending seemed a bit rushed.
Despite my issues, the good parts of this book were so very good that I still found myself enjoying quite a lot of it. It was definitely worth a read, though maybe not a reread.