Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel


England in the 1830s is ripe for rebellion. Wentworth Rawley, the notorious Duke of Burville, wishes he was not the outcast of London. Having been caught in a compromising situation with Lord Wilmore caused a lot of talk, but his vote for Freemen getting the right to vote caused all of the Lords to turn their backs on him. In fact, all of Wentworth’s house staff also quit, except a single housemaid and his valet, Jack Cotton. Three years later, Wentworth has hired staff that’s fiercely loyal–and somewhat queer– but he’s still a pariah among the peerage. His sole friend, whom he can’t meet with in society, is Lord Wilmore. Beyond that, Wentworth stays home and spends most evenings quietly reading with Jack. Which is why he’s not averse to heading for Lord Wilmore’s country estate for the reading of his late friend and lover’s will.

Jack naturally accompanies his lordship, though, honestly, Jack would do anything for his Wen. The depth of his affections can never be shared, however, because it’s unseemly for a lord and his valet to have relations. And now Wilmore’s set Wentworth on a quest to regain his reputation–or so Wentworth thinks. He has to travel a far distance, relying only on Jack’s abilities to keep Wentworth undercover. Or, else.

The journey is a challenge, and puts Wentworth in a commoner’s shoes for the first time ever. At times, it’s quite dire, and Wentworth runs the risk of losing that which he most desires–in more ways than one. His appreciation for Jack is second only to his hidden affection for the man. Wentworth isn’t willing to lose his valet and most personal confidant by revealing a growing tendresse for the man–especially as he doesn’t know if Jack returns his affections. Besides, it’s improper for a lord to diddle his employees; Jack could submit only to keep his position, and that’s not acceptable.

Still, the road to redemption is long, and Jack and Wen finally do confess their most mutual attractions. It’s steamy and tender, with Wen seeming to have gained what he needs, despite not having completed the quest to that point. However, Lord Wilmore was a wily sort, and his “prize” ends up being diabolical. Wen is forced to choose between being a lonely, but decent man, and abetting a blackmailer to win back the society of the peerage. And, his deep loneliness has him considering the latter–if only because being so ostracized these past years has affected him deeply. Jack can’t stand the lengths to which his beloved Wen might go to win back the favor of some wealthy bigots who’d never love him the way Jack will. Because Wen’s esteem is certainly falling for Jack as Wen pursues these nefarious plans.

This is the first book in a prequel series to Merry Farmer’s The Brotherhood series, so we get the inside scoop on how the Brotherhood was formed. I really thought this was an amazing start to the series. I love Wen’s pure heart and nobility of spirit. He’s very forward-thinking, for the time, and he’s got so much love and kindness to share. Jack is absolutely besotted with his Wen, and is eager to engage his lord as his lover, but he’s unwilling to help him fall into disgrace with all these dark plans. He’d rather let Wen go than help him destroy himself, and that’s what brings sense to Wen, at just the right moment. We also get to meet other founding members of The Brotherhood, and they do help Wentworth get his act together–as well as recover his man–but their stories are future books in this Origins series. I am eager to read on.