Sam Shaw may be a baronet, but to most of the ton he’s a stand-offish bore whose family comes from that most detested of backgrounds…trade. For his part, Sam doesn’t much care what society thinks. He tolerates the Season only to escort his youngest sister during her coming out. Given his place amongst the nobility, Sam can’t help crossing paths with Lord John Darnish, a man know for racing too fast and loving his mistress Lily absolutely and completely. For someone of Sam’s particular inclinations, Darnish represents all that he desires but can never have.
After Sam discovers Darnish in a compromising position, the latter assumes the worst. Sam proves to be honest and loyal and altogether uninterested in making sport of another man’s secrets. Brought together by circumstance, friendship and then love develop between them. But gossip and rumor can destroy a man of Society and when a family tragedy threatens to have far reaching consequences, Sam and John must put the ultimate trust in an old enemy.
One Glimpse was a sweet, enjoyable Regency-style romance that charmed me from the start. It’s the second in Lydia Gastrell’s Indulgence series but this can certainly be read as a standalone. Sam and John are the heart of the book in every sense of the word and the gradual evolution of their relationship is truly exceptional. Sam is far from perfect, being a little too short and a little pudgy, but loves that John thinks him beautiful and as a result so do readers. All the tiny imperfections that make John and Sam human are neither ignored nor glamorized. Rather their affection and devotion to one another feels realistic and natural. There are a few too many misunderstandings and secrets that crop up to cause mini conflicts. While one or two of these are fine, they became somewhat repetitive in One Glimpse. These did not overly detract from my overall enjoyment of Sam and John’s relationship, but they did weaken the plot.
The book as a whole had a real Regency flare woven in and amongst the text, which I greatly appreciated. So many Regency romances, be they m/f or m/m call themselves Regency by tossing in a phaeton and mentioning Almacks, without ever capturing the flavor of the time period. And while One Glimpse stumbles on a few points, the author has done a good job of giving this novel a real historical essence.
There are a couple of issues with One Glimpse that kept it from being as strong as it could have been. The biggest surrounds the main antagonist. He comes off as pathetic rather than despicable and I was never really sure about his motivations. He is certainly jealous and while that translates, it always feels forced. He wasn’t quite a caricature, but nor was his over the top villainy particularly believable. My other frustration was with John’s mistress and child who had moderate prominence in the first half of the book and then just sort of disappeared. As readers we are never give much resolution into this situation. Given their importance in John’s life, it would have been nice to see if things continued with Lily or if John was ever honest with her about the reality of his affections.
One Glimpse was a wonderful novel of two characters that are truly romantic. Their love for one another felt absolutely right and as a reader you desperately wanted them to find a happily ever after. There were some soft spots in the plot and secondary characters were rarely ever given the attention to detail they deserved. But overall, I believe anyone who likes a good old fashion courtship set against a Regency backdrop, will thoroughly enjoy One Glimpse.