After the injuries they sustained uncovering a violent murderer, Alfred Pennington, Earl of Crawford, and his lover, Dominic Trent, have journeyed to the Scottish countryside to relax and heal. Balcarres House is Alfie’s ancestral home and here he hopes to begin Nick’s education. With land and wealth of his own, Nick must learn how to manage them and to fit into a society that he doesn’t fully understand. It’s easier said than done, especially when one of the household turns up dead.
Confronted by murder, Nick and Alfie must find the culprit if they have any hope of putting their own house in order. But miscommunications and petty jealousies plague both men, who are still struggling to find their way together. And when the murderer strikes again, Nick and Alfie must grapple their new home’s dark history of abuse and pain.
His Lordship’s Master is the second in the His Lordship’s Mysteries series and these books need to be read in order as this work is a direct continuation of His Lordship’s Secret. Alfie and Nick are back and while they’re clearly in love and devoted to one another, once they arrive in Scotland, the realities of their life start to become apparent.
This series works, not because of the mysteries (though the mystery is given greater prominence this time around), but because of Alfie and Nick. They’re a fantastic couple and they clearly need one another in ways they don’t even realize. They aren’t co-dependent or lacking in individuality; instead, they are simply better for knowing and being with one another. There are times when the communication issues read as somewhat contrived and unnecessary. But despite this, these miscommunications do allow for character growth and a deepening of Alfie and Nick’s relationship, so I don’t consider them completely irrelevant.
The mystery, which is more fleshed out in His Lordship’s Master than in the first book, still doesn’t wow in terms of originality. It’s a bit ho-hum and I think most readers will spot the killer fairly early on. That said, the book does tackle, albeit from a distance, the often silent suffering of women in the servant class and how little recourse they had when abused, especially if they wanted to keep their job or their good name intact.
His Lordship’s Master was a strong follow up to His Lordship’s Secret and one I throughly enjoyed. Alfie and Nick have become one of my favorite fictional couples and I’m looking forward to further volumes and to read how their story continues. I think nearly all fans of historical mysteries will find plenty to like here.