Michael D’Agostino is celebrating his latest bestselling novel being published. However, he is now suffering from writer’s block and has no idea what to write next. When Michael runs into beautiful Arden Evans, the wine and the sparks fly. Without getting a name, Michael manages to track down Arden where he learns that Arden is not only a model, but an escort as well.
Michael is intrigued with Arden from the first glance and it only continues with each conversation. When Michael learns that Arden is writing a memoir, he offers to help Arden and the men spend a few days together. Michael grows more captivated every day, but Arden is clear about what he can offer. It’s all fine until it’s not as Michael wants all of Arden and, as much as Arden is falling for Michael, he also has financial obligations to a benefactor.
Arden also has a past and a childhood that was uniquely his. While Michael knows he wants Arden forever, it may be impossible to hold onto him. Michael knows that Arden will break his heart, but instead of walking away, he chooses the madness that only love can bring.
Once I started reading, A Madness Most Discreet is a book that kept me hooked with each passing page. I say once I started, because after reading the author’s note first, I was not as immediately hooked. The author states that she started out wanting to write a modern-day Pride and Prejudice, and as well known as that book is, it has never been a book I have wanted more of. The author then states that she thinks she mostly wrote a retelling of “Sex in the City,” and if you are going to compare your book to a popular contemporary work with a large following, it would be helpful to have the correct title, as it’s Sex and the City, and so I was hesitant about this book from the start.
Taking a large step over that, the writing in this book has some beautiful passages. The book deals with some intense subjects, but the writing is also lyrical and soft. I appreciate that Lascarso went in a direction that many books in the genre do not. Arden is a model, but he is also a prostitute. He is upfront with Michael about this from the start and Arden continues this line of work while he is dating Michael. There is no need to read between the lines, as Arden is not monogamous, but Michael knows and has agreed to only ask the questions that he wants answers to. Arden doesn’t just tell Michael who he is either, he shows him.
The connection and intense feeling and chemistry the men have is clear. Arden shows Michael a side of his life he hadn’t experienced before sexually and the men do a lot of exploring, even if at times it did feel like Michael was pushed into some things. There is a lot in their way once they leave the bedroom and the men have had completely different upbringings and the differences are shown in real time as Arden enlightens Michael’s wealthy friends regarding the men they date. Michael’s friends were an integral part of the story and some scenes felt like we should have known them already, while other scenes felt like they were being set up for their own story, but neither seems true and it was another facet to ponder. In between the main story, we are also given passages of the memoir Arden is writing and, since the book is not from his point of view, it gave a needed insight into his character.
Given the title of the book and the name of Arden, there are several references made to Shakespeare and with all of the references made from this, as well as the other works mentioned, it was a little too much for me as it touched on too many things moving independently from each other. Arden’s benefactor was the large hole in the story for me. We do learn that Arden is not doing anything against his will and can leave at any time. But the issue of a debt is raised more than once but, by the end, there was no further revelation on this and the issue of the debt become a non-issue and that didn’t work for me or for the story.
The book starts out tightly wound and there is much to unravel as the story goes on. For this genre, it steps outside the lines and those books often resonate with me and I’m glad this book found me. I was incredibly drawn into the relationship between Arden and Michael and, at its core, it’s a love story where the men love everything about each other, even when it breaks their hearts.