Ever since he laid eyes on Alistair Finley two years ago, Lord Marcus Avenleigh has wanted the man. In fact, Marcus wants nothing more than to pursue a relationship with Alistair, but the shy secretary keeps to himself at social engagements. But now Marcus is determined to catch his eye and works up the nerve to ask Alistair to dance.
When Marcus approaches, Alistair can’t believe that the gorgeous young lord has any interest in him. While Alistair is the king’s secretary (as well as his foster brother), he is also shy, overweight, and overly fond of alcohol. In fact, he is heavily inebriated quite a lot of the time. Anything to help ease his self doubt, which is only made worse by his big secret. Alistair is the late king’s bastard son, and the half brother to the current king. Yet not only did his father refuse to acknowledge him, even breathing a word of it will cause Alistair to lose his inheritance.
It takes Marcus time to prove to Alistair that he is interested and is in fact attracted to Alistair just as he is. It’s hard for Alistair to believe, especially with his weight ballooning in recent years. But gradually Alistair comes to accept the depth of Marcus’ feelings, and the two begin a relationship that they both hope will grow into more. But putting his demons behind him is not easy for Alistair, and when he begins to creep into his old bad habits, he risks losing Marcus for good. Now Alistair must decide if he is ready to fight for his love and his future with Marcus, or if he is going to lose his chance at happiness.
A Gentleman Revealed is a story that is sweet, romantic, and at times a little sad. I say sad because Alistair is a man facing a lot of self doubt. Most of its origins stem from being a bastard and having his father reject him. While he was raised at the palace, he was never acknowledged and feels unwanted. That combined with his weight and his over-reliance on alcohol has led to a downward spiral of more drinking, more weight gain, and more self loathing. Davis gives Alistair some real demons here, and we see that the solution is not easy and takes hard work. What I really loved here is that it’s clear that Marcus loves Alistair and is attracted to him just as he is. While Alistair needs to lose weight for his health, Marcus loves and appreciates him for who he is and that support is what helps Alistair begin to let down his walls and not only let Marcus in, but have the strength to make changes when needed.
This story is also quite sweet and romantic, perhaps overly so at points. It never falls into purple prose, but these guys fall pretty intensely and there is definitely a mushiness here that mostly worked for me. I liked these guys together and you get all the feel good moments as they move past their conflict and things all resolve. I did think the book felt a little long to me and sometimes it felt a little bogged down through the middle. But once we hit the conflict resolution, I loved how it all came together.
The book is the first in the Lords of Avenleigh series (presumably focusing on Marcus and his brothers), but is also linked to Davis’ Noble Pleasures series. There we are introduced to Alistair and some of the other side characters and the series focuses on his half brother Arend, the king, meeting his partner Julian. I read the first book in that series over three years ago, so while I remembered the basic outline, I didn’t remember details and I had no problem following along here. So while you might enjoy reconnecting with side characters from that series if you have read it, you can jump in here without the other books. I’ll also note that this story takes place in what I would consider an alternate historical world. It has a Victorian feel, but with the twist that male partnerships are accepted. This tone differs somewhat from Noble Pleasures where the book felt much more like a fantasy with the story of the king and his concubine.
I enjoyed this one, particularly for Marcus. He is bold and determined and willing to do what it takes to fight for his man. I also loved his family and the strong support of his father and brothers, so I am looking forward to continuing on with the series and getting their stories. The set up for the next book is quite intriguing, so I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for that one.