This is book 3 in A Society of Gentlemen – it’s the story of Richard Vane, leader of the group of gay men who have always looked up to him for guidance, advice and discreet assistance. His valet, David Cyprian, is the man who Richard has depended on not only to keep his wardrobe in order, but to handle other less savory duties such as blackmail or burglary when necessary. There has always been a simmering of desire between the two men, but Richard has maintained that a gentleman doesn’t dally with the servants. As Cyprian is usually in close proximity to Richard, helping him with his clothes, the sexual tension continues to ramp up. Eventually, one day this comes to a head and the boundary is crossed.
The unspoken thing, the forbidden hope, the one point that made David’s service feel like servitude because he could not even ask. But Lord Richard still wasn’t moving, his deep blue eyes locked on David’s and wide with shock, and now they knew. Now they both knew, and there was no pretending otherwise.
However, Richard being the contained man he is, pushes Cyprian away without being able to explain his feelings. Cyprian is understandably hurt and devastated by Richard’s attitude, and he decides to leave – there isn’t any way he would be able to be around Richard without knowing the passion they could have shared. He flees London to spend time with his mother in the country until he can decide what to do with his life.
Back in London, there is a problem brewing in that one of their group has written an explicit note to his lover, and he may be outed along with the rest of them if the scandal is revealed. They need Cyprian’s help in dealing with this, and Richard must put aside his pride and ask Cyprian to return. Thrown together again, the two men have to work through their problems, and see if can resolve the class issue and be together. The story is ripe with political intrigue as well as the strong emotion that can’t be denied. I thought Ms Charles did a wonderful job of portraying the difficulty of the situation, and how it couldn’t all be solved with a hand wave and pretend that a lord and a valet could make it all work easily. As usual, her writing is excellent and the desire between the two men is hotter than ever!