Alfred Pennington, Earl of Crawford, lives a quiet, nearly isolated life. He has only one servant, his devoted cook, but otherwise, Alfie has essentially withdrawn from a society where he does not quite fit. Yet despite this, someone seems to be trying to kill him. The idea is absurd to Alfie, but after being shot in broad daylight, he can’t ignore the obvious. When duty forces him to spend time with his loathsome cousin at a boxing match, Alfie hits upon the idea of hiring one of the boxers to serve as his bodyguard.
Life hasn’t been easy for Dominick Tripner since leaving the workhouse. He’s drifted from job to job and boxing is just another in a long line of ways he tries to keep money in his pocket. When a fancy toff chases him down after his latest match, Nick realizes they’ve met before years ago in the workhouse. As Nick and Alfie reconnect, the brotherly love they felt for one another as children blossoms into romance. But Nick doesn’t fit into Alfie’s well ordered world and even if they can stop a would be killer, Nick isn’t sure what kind of future they can hope to create.
His Lordship’s Secret is first and foremost wonderfully sweet. The mystery is so-so, but the story is generally well written and captivating, and the main characters are so perfect for one another, they steal the show.
Alfie and Nick once scrapped and fought to survive the brutal conditions of the workhouse. Without Nick, the smaller and younger Alfie would have been killed by the other boys. But when Alfie had a chance at adoption, he and Nick were separated. Now that fate has brought them back together, it’s as though they’re torn between making up for lost time and trying to figure out exactly who they are. Yet despite the fact the odds are stacked against them, these men just work together. They fit so naturally and have a genuine and abiding love for one another and, right from the start, I was championing them. They were impossible not to like and while their relationship is occasionally so sweet it becomes saccharine, I didn’t mind in the least. There is plenty of angst as well, though it never becomes smothering. Instead, it’s a natural product of the plot and what Nick and Alfie have endured.
The mystery is a bit hit and miss. I was caught off guard at one point and I’ll give the author credit for that “gotcha,” but as a general rule, the mystery of His Lordship’s Secret wasn’t what held my attention. I could have taken it or left it. Others may feel differently, but it wasn’t something that I ended up caring all that much about.
Alfie and Nick are the heart and soul of His Lordship’s Secret. As a couple and as individuals, they make everything about this book work on multiple levels. The mystery is sort of a shrug, but there’s enough to build a plot and carry it forward. If you like strong couples and a solid, though not overwhelming dollop of angst, then I think you’ll enjoy His Lordship’s Secret.