When James, next in line to be the Earl of Crofton, is accosted by the Chivalrous Highwayman, he’s intrigued, but not particularly alarmed. After all, the Chivalrous Highwayman is notorious for his audacious robberies, but he’s equally known for never harming those from whom he steals. So while James loses a watch and some money, he escapes with his life and enough fodder to keep the tongues at Court wagging for weeks. James expects that will be the end of it, but he has no idea of how his life is about to change.
Adam Dowson isn’t necessarily a fan of Court life. Still, he’s been hired as a keeper for a rather wild, wealthy fop and attending Court functions is part of the job. At least it offers him an introduction to James, the future Earl. Adam finds himself charmed by James, but he isn’t interested in being another notch on a bedpost. James is well known to tire of his lovers quickly and Adam refuses his advances. When James’ father falls ill, Adam is there as the steady, supportive friend James desperately needs. Love blossoms between them, but when an act of disloyalty is discovered, James and Adam, along with the Chivalrous Highwayman, must risk everything to achieve a measure of justice.
James, Earl of Crofton is another in the Crofton Chronicles, but it’s only very loosely related to the rest of the series and it’s not necessary to read them first. This book works very well as a standalone and the series is always waiting for you if you enjoy this book.
There’s nothing dramatically original about James, Earl of Crofton. The plot is pretty straightforward and I could go so far as to call it obvious. It plays out exactly as you think it will and there aren’t any big surprises. That said, the author’s voice is engaging and even more so than the other books in the series, I felt James, Earl of Crofton was enjoyable to read. It’s easy to relate with the characters and to care about their endeavors. There are times when the action slows somewhat, but even here the author gives readers a nice balance of emotion and forward plot movement. It works well throughout the entire book.
James is definitely the stronger of the two main characters and it was far easier to connect with him as a reader. He starts out as a wealthy dandy, but evolves into something more. He’s a man burdened by position, who is forced to deal with serious financial matters while grieving and struggling to make sense of his relationship with Adam. His conflict and stressors are relevant and it was easy to like him. Adam is less well developed and, while I wanted to see a deepening of his character, it never really happened. He works well enough with James, but doesn’t make much of a mark himself.
James, Earl of Crofton, was, for the most part an enjoyable read. There’s not a lot of “new” here with regards to the plot, but the story is well written and the characters elevate it beyond an average book. If you enjoy historicals, I think James, Earl of Crofton has quite a bit to offer.