Given that his gentleman tends to be something of a recluse, William Bell doesn’t have the most exclusive valet role around. But it helps him send money back to his sister for the raising of their young siblings, so William has learned to make the best of it. But at a rare house party, William has the chance to visit with his brother, Cyril, and fellow valet, Edwin Harrow. Though there is clearly some measure of bad blood between Cyril and Edwin, William finds himself attracted to the terse and icy Edwin.
When Edwin and William have a chance to further their relationship while in London, William realizes how much he has missed in his isolated posting. When he decides to take a chance and better his position, William’s world starts to crumble and, thanks to threats from friend and foe alike, he must decide what he wants from life and if Edwin will be a part of it.
Beck and Call is a historical novel involving two men trying to find a measure of happiness in a world that seems stacked against them. Edwin and William are fairly strong characters, however while the overall plot is decent, the pacing of Beck and Call leaves something to be desired.
William is the more developed of the two main protagonists and, as a result, I felt like he was the more believable. He read as flesh and blood and while not all of his actions made the most sense, that added to his realism. Edwin was more aloof, both in his demeanor and his character growth, though I actually found him to be the more interesting of the pair. His history is more complex and I wanted to have a bit more detail about his past.
The pacing in Beck and Call is something of a challenge. There were times when the action sort of chugged along and others when it seemed to grind to a halt. It never really flowed smoothly and while I was never completely removed from the moment, it took several tries to push past some sections. Some of this had to do with the more laborious aspects of the overall story, which involved William’s brother, Cyril, and Edwin’s former lover. As antagonists, they were rather uninspired and this was probably the weakest part an otherwise decent plot. Additionally, the historical aspects of the book are rather generic and while that isn’t my preference, I think this will add to the appeal of a wider audience. There isn’t the kind of excessive detail that may frustrate non-historical readers and there is a comfortable, easy feeling to the work that I think many will enjoy.
Beck and Call had a serious pacing issue, which frustrated me more than once, but on the whole the characters and plot were well structured and defined. While I was left somewhat wanting, I think most readers will find something to enjoy and it has the potential to reach a wider appeal than most historicals.