Alex has finally proposed to his childhood friend, Hermione. To celebrate, his cousin, Gabe, is throwing a bachelor party at his estate, and Alex … well, Alex doesn’t have a good reason to say no. He loves his cousin, of course, and enjoys spending time with him. But he’s not feeling particularly enthusiastic about this wedding. As much as he does love his fiance, he’s not in love with her, but he’s afraid of what would happen if his father discovered that his only son is gay, especially since his family is already somewhat put out that he writes books rather than pursuing a more serious career in medicine or business. So Alex has tucked himself quite tidily into the closet and has resigned himself to his life.
When Alex sees the young doctor, Jasper Kelley, heading up to check up on his uncle’s health, Alex is immediately smitten. He goes so far as to corner the other man in the kitchen and take a kiss — a kiss that takes his breath away. Jasper, though, isn’t ready to enter into a relationship and quickly pushes Alex away. Not that Alex has any intention of giving up, not when he has a chance at finally finding love.
There is a great deal of nobility in this book, with Alex being a lord, Jasper the son of an earl, and another character being the son of a baron. For all of that, there’s no real sense of rank, nobility, or even wealth and power to make the titles anything more than window dressing. Likewise, Alex’s writing, which while mentioned as his occupation, isn’t ever discussed. I don’t even know what sort of books he writes. He seems like a pleasant enough guy at first, though his possessive streak rears its head pretty quickly and he is most certainly prone to jealousy. So much so that he admits how upset he is that Jasper hugs his father … and whether that’s because he doesn’t have such an easy relationship with his own father, or because someone else is touching Jasper isn’t made all that clear.
Jasper was thrown out of his house at 18 when he came out as gay to his parents and fell head first into an abusive relationship with an older man who got off on the power and control he had over a younger, more vulnerable Jasper. When it ended, badly, Jasper was found by the Earl of Ross and adopted. Ever since, he’s kept himself either at home, school, or work, making no friends and having no relationships for over 15 years. When Alex shows an interest in him, an aggressive and physical interest, Jasper reacts badly. But when Alex is there when Jasper is wounded and continues to show interest, Jasper finally accepts Alex’s overtures.
This relationship didn’t sit well with me. Even owing to the abbreviated nature of the plot given the novella length of the story, Jasper has been hiding for 15 years from the memory and trauma of a past relationship only to — after physical abuse and emotional shock — fall into the arms of a man he met three days ago, a man who, like his abuser, is physical and demanding. Even at the end, during their first sex scene, Jasper can’t help but feel like he’s back with his abuser when Alex is cold and giving orders in bed. But it’s okay because Alex loves him.
The whole story felt rushed and even though a good half of the book is about Alex, I really have no grasp of him as a character. He’s closeted, but everyone knows he’s gay? Certainly his cousin and his friends know, and he doesn’t hide his sexuality from the man he just met and kissed. To his credit, when Jasper is injured, Alex is right there, dropping everything to be at Jasper’s side, but I didn’t feel any connection beyond a physical attraction to explain any of this. The writing has its own style, and it’s not one that I found particularly appealing; it felt stilted and awkward to me, but that’s very much a matter of personal taste.
Overall, I didn’t care for the book or the relationship between the two characters. I don’t see this as a good relationship for Jasper and have no reason to see this as being anything other than a physical hookup for Alex. Personally, I don’t recommend it. It’s too rushed, the characters are too thin, and I felt like the whole thing was a little too scattered with too many loose threads.