Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel


Charles Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, is a man of a certain age and an even more certain character. He’s one of those men to whom others flock, be it for gossip, for good company, or for a good fuck. Charles is there for all of it. He and his wife have a convivial agreement that neither of them are constrained by their marriage so long as both are respectful of it (and so long as his wife does not have another man’s child), coming together and moving apart as various fancies take them. It’s a pleasant life and Charles lives it well, but one handsome young man keeps drawing his eye … and not in a good way.

Timothy Thorne, Captain of the Light Dragoons, is a stern, frigid man who will cross words with Charles, but nothing more. He’s either glaring at him, looking down his nose at him, or walking away from him and Charles can’t help but think how good Captain Thorne would look underneath him. So, when a friend offers up a wager to see if Charles can, indeed, bed the handsome young man, Charles agrees.

What was supposed to be a humiliation, a prick in Timothy’s pride, turns out to be something altogether different as Charles finds himself unable and unwilling to part from Timothy’s side. Not even death will keep the two of them apart.

This story is written as a standalone novel in the author’s Earls of Crofton series. The writing style lends itself to a great deal of telling rather than showing and a slight distance from the characters. There’s no real emotional exploration, simply erotic adventures, hints at past erotic adventures, and men talking about how scandalous their erotic adventures have been.

Charles is a middle aged man with a wife and grown son who has spent his life chasing after sex. Married couples, twin sisters, cousins … he isn’t particular about gender, but all of his lovers have been of a certain rank and a certain elegance of manner and open enthusiasm. Charles and his wife compare past conquests, much as he does with his best friend, who has a marriage similar to that of Charles and his wife.  And it’s a lot of talk. Charles will be the first one to talk about how great a lover he is, how many conquests he’s had, but he’s ready to settle down once he gets Timothy into bed, perhaps because Timothy is the one to wake up first … and walk away first.

Timothy Thorne didn’t know he was interested in men, only that he wasn’t excited or proud of his first time with a woman. Something about Charles, the easy way he goes from bed to bed, man to man, gets beneath Timothy’s skin. However, because we spend the book in Charles’s head, it’s hard to know exactly what it was about Charles, other than his skill in bed, that draws Timothy to him. Upon having a most excellent night, Timothy falls quite in love, rapidly getting over his disquiet about how two men should not be together. Much as everything else happens quickly, smoothly, and with little trouble.

At one point, Timothy has a moment where he’s accused of participating in forgery and embezzlement of army funds, but it’s cleaned up in a chapter, and Timothy and Charles sail off into the sunset to fall in love. Then five years pass and the two men are coming home to help Charles’ son. It’s another mess easily cleaned up, and we’re back to talking about people rather than seeing the events happen.

Technically, the writing is fine, and the author manages to write in style slickly and smoothly. I was just bored by what I felt to be a lack of story. The two characters get together so quickly, and then it’s a lot of nothing happening for a good half of the book. Charles is painted as being a certain sort of person, but it’s all other people telling me, never an event in the book to actually show it happening. If you’re a fan of the series, I hope you enjoy the book, but if you’re looking for world building, historical details, a comedy of manners, or books with a strong focus on characters and developing relationships, I’m going to suggest you pass this one by.