This is a debut novel by the author, but it reads like one by a more seasoned writer. It’s a historical romance, however, this one explores the gay romance side of things. I haven’t read much M/M romance, much less based in the Regency era, so I was interested to see how this would play out. In that time period, gay sex was a well kept secret since the act was construed as sodomy and could be punishable by exile, prison or death. You can imagine how difficult it would have been to carry on a romance, much less discover who might be a willing partner.
In this story, Jack Turner is the scoundrel – born into poverty, raised on the streets, he’s done whatever he had to in order to stay alive and to provide for his siblings. He’s been a valet, a thief and now a private investigator who uses his street smarts to help women and lower class folks who have no other recourse when things go bad. His distrust of the aristocracy runs deep and he has no use for any of them. He’s snarky and irreverent, and is determined to make his own way in the world.
Oliver Rivington is the soldier – second son of an Earl, he is a former Captain who has retired after being injured. He shows up in Jack’s office one day, demanding to know why his sister recently paid Jack a large sum of money. Her husband was a drunken abuser, and she’d hired Jack to remove the man from her life by whatever means possible. Oliver is convinced that Jack took advantage of Charlotte, however, and refuses to leave until he gets some answers.
There is an immediate sexual attraction between them, taking them by surprise. It’s an attraction neither man wants, given their difference in class and what they want from life. And yet, Oliver finds himself being drawn into Jack’s world, in an attempt to help Jack solve his latest case. They end up on a road trip to gather evidence, and Jack realizes that Oliver’s polish and charm can help in ways his own rough edges could hinder things. Jack is like a fish out of water in the country; he’s a city boy, born and bred.
Along the way, their mutual attraction moves along to its inevitable conclusion but they both contend that it’s not an emotional affair, just a physical one. Their relationship is portrayed with equal parts of lust and respect for each other; they might not expect the coupling to last beyond the road trip, but they slowly come to care for each other. What I liked about both of them is that they were comfortable with their sexuality, it wasn’t a case of one character being experienced and the other being reluctant about his inclinations. They are both capable of being open about their desires, and mutually enjoying those erotic desires.
I really enjoyed this book- it was well written and Jack and Oliver were a great couple together. I’m looking forward to the next book about Jack’s brother, Georgie, who was a minor character here.