Due to a dueling incident, Michael St. James has been banished from his home to faraway Virginia. He’s a rake with a past full of casual lovers. He’s bored and looking for entertainment. One night at a party he meets Daniel Calhoun, a farmer lord, as quaint as that sounds.
Daniel finds Michael objectionable in every way. He’s rude and offensive. But Michael takes the whole thing as a lark, and decides to pursue and seduce Michael. The two men are so different, the mere thought seems like a jest.
When they find common ground and grow closer, however, the whole town notices their reckless loving. It’s only a matter of time before everyone they know turns against them. Sacrifices seem to lead them down different paths.
In many ways, this is the kind of story filled with themes of forbidden love and enemies-to-lovers that’s all predictable. But… the way this tale is written, it’s just charming and drags you right into the thick of things, not letting go until the last line. I loved it.
In the beginning, the characters are total opposites in personalities, and their arguing banter is one of the best aspects of the book. The sparkling wit and snappy retorts make each verbal fencing match a delight to read. Daniel insults Michael as best he can, and Michael happily smiles with a smart remark back. Delicious dialogue indeed.
What I found quite refreshing also was that despite the historical period, the two men decide to forge ahead with their relationship, regardless of being maliciously gossiped about. They refuse to let others make their decisions for them, to allow haters to change what good they have. Historical romances often show this aspect which, while realistic, is often handled in a melodramatic fashion. Here, the matter is skimmed, working in the background to show the social forces these men heroicly fight against.
The plot twists—such as each man sacrificing something important for the other—can be seen coming, but it doesn’t matter. The writing is compelling and simply speaking good, so the reader is immersed into a sensual world between two men with obvious chemistry between them. In fact, the sex scenes—almost in public at times—are as smoking hot and engrossing as is their verbal sparring.
The side characters feature an historical fag hag, her sweet hubby, a best friend in a bind when things go sideways, and naturally the scheming, hateful folk who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own interests. A short collection of people showing the various attitudes toward homosexuality.
Though I personally (and greedily) would have wished for a longer piece, this is a great historical erotic romance that captivates and lures a reader in with exciting banter and super steamy sex. Highly recommended.