William Delaney Andrews is used to a little adventure in his life. As an ex-pickpocket (well sometimes he practices, just to make sure his skills are up to scratch) and a current member of the Andrews theatre brood, adventure, at least in small doses, is a way of living. When Delaney attends a masked ball in his alter persona, magician Billbo the Magnificent, he finds himself in the hostess’ second best drawing room with Death himself.
Bartholomew Bancroft is on the edge of ruin. When an ex lover steals his small but expensive trove of jewelry-making stones, Bartholomew has no funds with which to replace them. As a member of the upper class, his family already looks down on his desire to make jewelry, but for Bartholomew it’s his calling. Dressed as Death, he attends a party as a favor to a friend, but instead spies Delaney pickpocketing and then ends up being seduced by the man. With nothing left to lose, Bartholomew decides to seek out Delaney and ask for his help.
The two men team up to recover Bartholomew’s missing jewels, but they can’t deny the chemistry between them. In the end Bartholomew might have to choose between the jewels and the love he shares with Delaney.
Delaney and the Autumn Masque is the last in the seasonal holiday series about the Andrews family. You don’t have to read the entire series in order to understand what’s happening, but for further character development, you may wish to. I am generally a fan of the writing duo of Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon and while this particular novel wasn’t one of their strongest, it still had some enjoyable moments. Though Delaney and Bartholomew aren’t fully developed characters, they still work as a couple and there is a genuine connection between them. Each of the men respects the artistry of the other and that fuels the eventual growth of their affection. The extended camaraderie of the Andrews family added a nice layer to the romance between Delaney and Bartholomew. And the authors do an excellent job of demonstrating strength of the family’s ties to one another, regardless of whether they are adopted or blood members.
Sadly the plot was pretty thin, even for a Regency-esque romp. There wasn’t much substance and more often than not, there were plot holes that were either ignored or just glossed over. The “bad guy” was a waste of time and what should have been a tense interaction between he, Delaney, and Bartholomew ended up being pretty anti-climatic. Given how dangerous we were told that the antagonist was, he was portrayed as rather silly.
Overall, despite some issues with the plot and a rather ineffective antagonist, I still managed to enjoy Delaney and the Autumn Masque. It wasn’t a great book by any means, but it was an entertaining, relaxing read and sometimes that’s all I really want. I think if you’re a fan of these authors, you will enjoy Delaney and Autumn Masque and anyone wanting a quick, easy read will also have fun with this one.