Nick Andrews is alive, but hardly living. Since the marooning and presumed death of his lover, Christopher Hart, Nick has fallen about as low as a man can. Nothing much matters now that Christopher is gone and Nick is barely holding himself together. He makes his way back to London and ends up drifting into a job at a coffee parlor. There he meets Tom Arlington, a man who is rich (though not as rich as he would like), brash, and utterly captivated by Nick. Tom convinces Nick to take a job as his valet, all with the hope of seducing the young man. Nick can’t love Tom, no matter how hard he tries, but at least as a valet he has food in his belly and a roof over his head.
But when Nick follows Tom to his country estate, he finds himself embroiled in a twisted and dangerous family drama, one that has ties to Christopher’s past. Nick sets about finding out what he can while keeping his head down and keeping Tom at an arms length. Everything comes to a head with the arrival of someone Nick never thought to see again.
Forlorn is the second in the Wavesongs series, which started with the book Astray. These really need to be read in order due to the complexity of the overall story. Forlorn takes up shortly after Astray ends and we find Nick struggling to recover after losing Christopher to his mutinous pirate crew. Nick’s desolation and grief are poignant and during the book’s early chapters, his sense of isolation is really well communicated. Tom is a bit of a fly by night and rather shallow and it was hard to ever get attached to him, primarily because of a problem I will talk about later on. His relationship with Nick never develops fully, so there are times it seems almost extraneous.
The pacing issues I had with Astray are significantly improved here and Forlorn moved with an evenness that I appreciated. Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to like Tom. His obsession with Nick feels forced and at times creepy. He never forces Nick, but he certainly can’t take no for an answer and he comes off as lecherous. I can’t reveal too much about the plot for fear of giving away some big spoilers, but it read as overly convoluted and excessively dependent on coincidence. As a result, it didn’t read as believable or particularly interesting, which was a shame because at least the first quarter of Forlorn seemed to have some real potential. It just ended up too tangled in its own plot.
There are parts of Forlorn that work well and it’s obvious the author has put a great deal of thought and time into constructing this series, which I truly admire. But like Astray, there are just too many frustrations in Forlorn to let me really enjoy it. The plot is cumbersome and at times the characters simply seem disconnected from their relationships and the actions around them. This one didn’t work for me, but if you were a fan of Astray, I think Forlorn will serve as a satisfying follow up.