By day, he’s a shy, boring, history professor that teaches little, but researches like an ace. But every once in a while, Llewellyn Lewis becomes his alternate ego, Ramon Rondell, and turns into a daring, vivacious man who occasionally picks up a one night stand and never looks back. Two sides of the same coin and only Llewellyn knows that the real him is not some dashing gorgeous man about town, but really just a mousy, stuttering introvert who loves to track down historical mysteries and prove them right or wrong. Llew’s world is small, but comfy, and his jaunts as Ramon afford him a release to be the man he wishes he could be: confident and smooth. But years of being with a mother who hated him and never failed in reminding him of that fact, along with being a prodigy who had his Ph.D. by the age of twenty, has left Llew so comfortable in his cave of an office alone with his research. No one can ever know about “Ramon” or Llew’s reputation and his position at the university will be ruined.
Blaise Arthur is not who he seems. But one thing is clear: he knows that his attraction to Llewellyn Lewis is more of a problem than it should be. Still, he cannot seem to let the man alone for many reasons; one of which is he really likes the guy. But Blaise has a job to do and it’s tearing him apart. When murder comes to the small university where he is posing as a teaching assistant and Llew works as a history professor, neither man is ready for the turmoil and intrigue it will throw at them. They also aren’t ready for the attraction they feel to blossom into something more, but that’s life and it’s about to get really complicated.
Tara Lain is re-releasing her novel, The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean, and let me tell you, there is not a character much more adorable than Llewellyn Lewis. His alternate persona is a bit shallow and not as thoroughly sketched out as I might like, but we get a taste of how he is when dressed as Ramon and it’s enough to make me like the shy, reserved Llewellyn even more. This is a man who is directly influenced by a woman that should never have been given the title of mother. Effectively, she hated Llew and made sure he knew it. Instead of celebrating her brilliant son, she berated and mocked him, causing him to stutter even into adulthood and believe he is not only unattractive, but never worthy of being loved. Then Blaise comes into his life and everything changes.
The story is a multi-layered one with a woman pursuing Llew to research and verify her late father was correct in thinking their long lost relative was actually Shakespeare. On top of that, there is a murder, Blaise’s actual identity, and a stalker who lurks on the periphery of the novel. It’s a lot to unpack and some of it is done very well—the murder and romance portions, for instance. However, this outlying thread about a stalker seems to come out of nowhere and really didn’t need to be a part of the story. The novel had more than enough mystery and intrigue going on without that half-hearted attempt at adding that to the plot. Also, I found that both Blaise and Llewellyn’s pasts were never really fully fleshed out, so we don’t really get a full picture of who either man really is or everything that makes them who they are today. Instead, we get hints of their pasts and what motivates them—Llewellyn’s being more complete than Blaise.
Thankfully, the slow burning romance between Llewellyn and Blaise is quite nice and I love how the author keeps Llew just slightly off-kilter in regards to fully trusting Blaise. It goes just a bit deeper than his ingrained sense of low self-esteem and points in the direction of his ability to suss out and unravel a mystery, which makes him such an intrepid and thorough researcher. The murder and surrounding investigation is another well done aspect of this novel and one that kept me guessing up to the end.
The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean is a nicely done murder mystery with a sweet bit of romance and a happy ever after that is bound to delight those in the lookout for such a novel.