4 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published, Summer Devon

Release Day Review: The Merchant and the Clergyman by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Merchant and the Clergyman

Author: Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 186 Pages

At a Glance: If you’re looking for well written historical romance, you can’t go wrong with these two authors.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: A village clergyman

Curate James Fletcher is content shepherding his parishioners through the good and bad times of their lives. If he sometimes dreams of making a deeper connection with a man who truly knows everything about him, it is an impulse he ignores.

A devoted businessman

Declan Shaw solves problems at his family’s many business enterprises. Recently, he’s considered ceasing his travels to pursue a few desires of his own. He’d love to explore his secret love of cooking and perhaps have a relationship with a man that lasts longer than a night.

The event that brings them together

In town for his cousin’s wedding, Declan meets James just as he’s bested the annoying groom. Intrigued by the mild-mannered cleric’s surprising spirit, Declan asks James to help him discover if his aging aunt is being mistreated by her spouse.

As their paths repeatedly cross, the men reach an intersection of attraction they can’t ignore. Will they dare purse forbidden passion and continue to journey together into the future, or will their differences tear them apart?

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Review: One of the reasons I love historical romance is one of the reasons a lot of people don’t. Gay men and women had to settle for a very different sort of happy ending throughout history, often marrying for the sake of propriety while keeping their true natures a secret to all but those with whom they carried on their secret affairs. One of the reasons this book endeared itself to me is because Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee not only captured that romantic element but then, rather than allowing this story to rest on that tried and true trope alone, they added a bit of mystery and danger to the plot. That, as well as two charming characters in Declan Shaw and James Fletcher—our merchant and clergyman—drove this story along to an ending that was perfectly fitting for its historical setting, a resolution that fit the time and the characters, and allowed James to carry on in a calling he loved and was so obviously meant to do. To reiterate what Jennifer once summarized in another review of this writing duo’s work not long ago—if you’re looking for well written historical romance, you can’t go wrong with these two authors.

James’s rather limited, not to mention unfortunate, experience with men begins and ends with Kip Darnley. Kip is the prototype of the closeted bully, using James for sex then treating him horribly the remainder of the time. While James had tolerated Kip’s callous behavior in school for several reasons—not the least of which is that he’s a sexual submissive, and the way Kip commanded him turned him on more than a little—it’s clear when they come face to face again that Kip’s free pass to sex with James has long expired. When they meet again all these years later, Kip’s demands have nothing to do with scratching an itch (though he does try, which results in us seeing exactly the stuff James is made of) and everything to do with James officiating Kip’s marriage to a sweet and naïve young woman.

The authors thicken the plot when Declan Shaw is introduced…looking rather a lot like Kip, and pushing quite a few of James’s buttons. As it turns out, Declan is Kip’s handsome and far more interesting cousin, which sets the stage for their romance. But of course, as a relationship between two men was anathema in this story’s setting, especially when one of them is a man of the cloth, the getting together wasn’t easy. That doesn’t mean, however, that James isn’t wildly attracted to Declan while at the same time being a little turned off by him because of his familial connections.

As Devon and Dee move the plot forward, we’re treated to a story that endears James to us as we witness him questioning his beliefs while exhibiting an uncompromising devotion to his flock. We watch a subtle (then a not so subtle) flirtation unfold between him and Declan, all while James struggles with his sexual needs and how to confess them to the man. In short, James is human and, therefore, relatable on every level. As conflict is introduced alongside this romance, revealing that Kip’s impending marriage is a disaster waiting to happen, as well as an intrigue involving Declan’s aunt, Declan not only becomes James’s lover but also becomes this story’s hero.

The Merchant and the Clergyman is a tender romance that doesn’t struggle to give readers a happy ending unbefitting the time in which the story is set. Rather, the ending gives both James and Declan exactly what the time and setting demanded, allowing us to believe they loved long into the future, with none the wiser.

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4 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Jennifer, Samhain Publishing, Summer Devon

Review: The Shepherd and the Solicitor by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Amazon US

Amazon US

Title: The Shepherd and the Solicitor

Author: Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 161 Pages

At a Glance: If you want a good historical fiction romance, you really can’t go wrong with this pair of authors.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: When a storm is brewing, taking shelter could be the most dangerous move of all.

One careless, public sign of affection cost Daniel Pierce’s lover his life at the hands of a hate-filled mob. Grief-stricken, Daniel retreated from society to a sheep farm in the wilds of the north. Years later, Gregory Tobin erupts into his solitary life.

Sent to confirm the existence—or the death—of the Pierce family’s lost heir, Tobin isn’t sure he’s found the right man. The gruff, shaggy hermit calling himself Jacob Bennet bears little resemblance to photographs of the younger Pierce. Tobin needs more time to study his quarry.

With lambing season in full swing, Daniel grudgingly admits he could use an extra hand. Through a long, exhausting night, they parry back and forth as Tobin probes closer and closer to the truth. And something beyond casual attraction simmers between them.

They come together in a crash of desire, but ultimately Daniel must overcome the terrors of the past to reconcile the man he was with the man he’s becoming—a man capable of loving again.

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Review: If you want a good historical fiction romance, you really can’t go wrong with this pair of authors. I have yet to read a novel by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon that I didn’t enjoy. The two just know how to write good books, and together they’re a winning combination.

After the death of his lover, Daniel Pierce flees London to become the lonely shepherd, Jacob Bennet. Hiding away in the north, he fights his nightmares and tends to his sheep. Being alone is just what he wants. Or is it? When solicitor Gregory Tobin is sent to find Daniel, the missing heir, Bennet wants nothing to do with him. He’s alone for a reason, and he wants to keep it that way, but Gregory just won’t leave. And with lambing season in full swing, it’s hard to turn down the extra help. So Gregory stays, and the longer he’s there, the more the men begin to desire each other.

While this book might not have the most original plot, it’s well written and I truly enjoyed the characters. Gregory is dangerously open in his interest in Bennet, but as they’re alone, there’s only a small worry they’ll be caught. And Bennet is stubborn, but given his history, his caution is understandable. I loved their first meeting and all the way to the last page. I mean, it’s hard not to love a man who gets trampled by overly friendly sheep, or who names the newborn lambs and figures out a way to save the one who isn’t getting enough food from its mother.

The setting is also beautiful. From the rolling hills to the small cottage Bennet lives in, I could easily picture it and wanted to be there with the men. Like Gregory, I started to see the pleasure in the simple yet challenging life of raising sheep out in the wilds of the north, with hardly anyone around. Talk about peaceful.

If you’re looking for a read with two different yet strong male leads, set in the country of historical England, look no further. Fans of Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee will enjoy their latest collaboration.

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You can buy The Shepherd and the Solicitor here:

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4.5 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Horror, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: The Tutor by Bonnie Dee

Title: The Tutor

Author: Bonnie Dee

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 184 Pages

At a Glance: Chills, suspense, and romance work together beautifully in The Tutor.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Gothic romance with a twist.

Elements of The Sound of Music, The Enchanted Garden, Jane Eyre, and “true” ghost hunting shows make this story feel familiar. Gay love makes it unique.

Seeing an ad for a position at a Yorkshire estate, typesetter Graham Cowrie decides to make an upward career move by passing himself off as a tutor. How hard can it be to teach a few subjects to a pair of nine-year-old boys? But on his arrival at the ancient house, he finds the staff creepy, the twins odd, and the widowed master temporarily absent.

His first meeting with brooding, stern, but oh-so-attractive, Sir Richard doesn’t go well, but with no other prospects vying for the teaching position, Graham manages to keep it. His mission soon becomes clear, break down the walls of reserve both father and sons have erected and attempt to bridge the gap between them.

But strange sounds, sights and experiences keep Graham on edge until he finally admits the Hall is haunted by two entities with very different agendas. Graham works to appease one and combat the other while protecting the broken family he’s grown to care for.

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Review: Fans of gothic horror will find plenty to love in Bonnie Dee’s historical romance The Tutor, the story of a man who fabricates his way into a tutoring position at the decaying Allinson Hall, but who soon proves his value to a widower and his sons when a malevolent spirit threatens to drag them all into darkness.

The author does two things superbly in this novel, the first being that she sets the mood and tone of the story in bleak yet vivid detail. The starkness of the Hall and the somber image of its residents paint, in Poe-ish overtones, the dour picture of a family torn apart by the death of a wife and mother. You expect dire things to come as the scene is set, but don’t know exactly what it will be, and are immersed from the beginning in the tragedy and its aftereffects. And, we soon see the near impossible task Graham Cowrie has ahead of him in reaching out to his two young pupils, Whitney and Clive Allinson.

The second standout detail in this novel is the setting up of the supernatural elements that haunt the story and its characters. There are chilling moments throughout and plenty of suspense to keep the reader’s pulse pounding as the shadows and the macabre fairly cling to the walls of Allinson Hall. The tension is palpable at times and kept me glued to my Kindle as the eerie mixed with the more poignant moments of Sir Richard Allinson’s story. The distance from his twins sons—not in terms of measurable space but in the emotional vacuum that exists between them since Lavinia Allinson’s death—lends the novel a compassionate touch as we come to understand that Richard is not only suffering from grief over the loss of his wife but guilt over the lie that was his marriage.

As Graham begins to embrace his role as the boys’ tutor we see the Sisyphean task he has ahead of him. For each bit of headway he makes, not only as their teacher but as a man who comes to care about the boys and their wellbeing, he takes a giant leap back, especially with Clive, as distrust and grief soon take a backseat to the evil spirit that spreads its pall over the estate.

Graham and Richard’s interactions are initially colored by Richard’s guilt over and denial of his sexuality, and we see him as cold and aloof, perhaps even a little sinister, which makes it difficult to warm up to him as we watch him make no effort to bring comfort to his sons. But, the author does what must be done for us to see beneath the surface, and that is to begin a slow melting of the man’s icy exterior as the truth behind Lavinia’s death and the psychological effect it had on his boys is revealed. Graham’s natural charm and our sympathy for where he came from, not to mention our admiration for what he’s achieved in spite of his upbringing, was the perfect foil to Richard’s more taciturn personality, like the silver lining around the cloud, and I found myself quickly rooting for their happy ending.

The climactic scene of The Tutor is filled with tension as the physical and metaphysical collide, and the good vs. evil battle ramps up to its fullest extent before winding the story down to its deeply romantic conclusion, one that befits the time period in which the story is set. I liked The Tutor a lot, from the storyline to the characters to the author’s writing style, and can say that if you’re a fan of historical romance with more than a touch of the supernatural to give it a suspenseful twist, Bonnie Dee delivers.

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4.5 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Samhain Publishing, Summer Devon

Review: The Bohemian and the Banker by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Title: The Bohemian and the Banker

Author: Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 170 Pages

At a Glance: Beautiful cover, wonderful characters, fun read – The Bohemian and the Banker was a treat!

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: A night lost in Paris finds two hearts changed—forever.

Sent to Paris on business, Nigel Warren doesn’t quite understand why his colleagues’ eyes twinkle as they tell him to meet them at a local night spot.

When he discovers it’s a drag cabaret and his acquaintances aren’t there, he realizes he’s the butt of a joke. Yet he finds himself quite undone by a singer dressed in an elegant gown, crooning a spellbinding ballad.

It’s not unusual for Jay, a former Londoner, to bring a new “friend” home from the cabaret, but he’s never had a guest quite like Nigel, whose straitlaced manner hides an unexpected passionate streak.

One romantic night on a rooftop under starry skies, followed by an afternoon enjoying the excitement of the 1901 Paris Exposition, bonds these opposites in a way neither can forget—even after they part.

Their spark reignites when Jay comes to London, but he’s not sure he can go back to hiding his true self, not even for the sake of love…unless Nigel is willing to shed his cloak of staid respectability and take a leap of faith.

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Review: This was my first Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There is something so cool about getting lost in another time and place for a little while. Reading historical fiction is a fabulous way to do that; and, what better place to get lost than The City of Light? The Bohemian and the Banker takes us to early 1900s Paris, where Englishman Nigel Warren, in town on bank business, meets sultry nightclub singer Jean Michel. Nigel’s bank colleagues are attempting to play a prank on him by sending him to a drag cabaret, but, instead, they do him a huge service.

Jean Michel is the drag persona of Jay, who is tickled to meet a fellow countryman when he runs into Nigel outside of the club after a show. Jay takes Nigel back to his flat and introduces him to his art-crowd friends. At first Nigel is shocked by their Bohemian lifestyle, and can’t imagine ever being comfortable living like that himself. The more time he spends with Jay, though, the larger the attraction grows. He realizes how relaxed he feels with him, and desperately tries to imagine a way they could work together. Nigel appreciates all aspects of Jay, and Jay loves that he doesn’t have to hide Jean Michel away from him.

However, Nigel is certainly more than a bit naïve about what he expects from Jay when the singer makes an extended trip to London to be with him. Jay has definitely awakened a passion in Nigel that the banker now can’t live without, but the lovely, free-spirit Jay will not be reduced to what basically amounts to the equivalent of being Nigel’s housewife. I loved seeing Nigel absolutely come alive when he was with Jay, and the sacrifices that Jay was willing to make to be with Nigel made me fall in love with him even more. The authors did a wonderful job at building the romance. I was definitely invested in both characters, and in the relationship, so, when the big conflict of the story came, it broke my heart a little. The emotions on both sides were very well written and realistic.

I also had no trouble falling right into the vibe of the time. The descriptions of both cities, and all the trappings of the time period were so well done; the section where they explore the 1901 Paris Exposition was fantastic. The characteristics/personalities of both characters also fit the period, and both were charming and likeable. The transitions between the character chapters wasn’t as seamless as I would have liked at times – it was a little tough to get used to the back and forth between the POVs – but that could have simply been a product of me not being used to the feel of a co-authored book. It was clear enough whose voice it was at the beginning of each chapter, but I did find myself having to sort of backtrack and remind myself who was speaking a few times. It wasn’t a major distraction, though.

Overall, absolutely a charming historical romance. Beautiful cover, wonderful characters, fun read – The Bohemian and the Banker was a treat! :)






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Giveaways, The Year In Reviews

Simply the Best 2014: The Finale – The Year In Reviews and a Giveaway

2014

We have reached the end of our journey, folks, the final choices for our Top Reads of 2014. In case you’ve missed the others, check out Sammy’s and Tina’s selections HERE; Jackie’s, Lana’s, and Jules’ HERE; Lynn’s and Chris’s HERE; and Kim’s and Kathie’s HERE.

Rena and I are the last to go, and I paired the two of us together because we each, by coincidence, themed our lists just a bit. Rena’s choices are not only all selected from the Historical sub-genre, but they are also unique to the genre, each in their own ways. For my selections this year, you’ll find some among them (and yes, I listed two series because I’m a big cheater) are self-published, one falls under the Historical sub-genre, two of them are Alt U/Alt History, and one of them is a chronologized serial set in the 1980s world of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. And one features a group of some of the most charming and twisted killers I’ve ever read.

As we’ve reached the end of the line and are now looking forward to discovering some of the best books of 2015, The Novel Approach is offering you the chance to win a $25 Gift Card to Amazon or All Romance eBooks, winner’s choice! Just click the Rafflecopter image to enter before Midnight Pacific time on Saturday, January 3, 2015.

Good luck!

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And now, here are Rena’s and my selections for the best of the best this year had to offer.

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Rena:

21529170Flight of Magpies by KJ Charles:Flight of Magpies is another brilliant addition to KJ Charles’ magnificent A Charm of Magpies series. Reading the book was one of those instances where I was so deeply immersed in Lucien and Stephen’s world that I actually got upset when I realized how far I’d gone and how little I had left to read. It’s an experience that’s not new to me; it began with The Magpie Lord, and it had yet to show signs of fading or slowing down. That said, I don’t want it to happen, considering how much I adore this series.”

 

23202149Bloodline by Jordan L. Hawk: “Fans of Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne and Griffin series are in for a pretty dark treat with Bloodline – with a generous dose of tragedy, at that, but in ways that are a lot more complicated than simply death. As an installment of the series, Bloodline is perhaps the darkest and grimmest so far, but it does end in bittersweet hope that marks a new era, so to speak, for the characters involved.

The stakes in this book are significantly higher because everything becomes personal for Whyborne. We get to see his family’s history, which is intricate and bizarre and is steeped in magic.”

22544017Prosperity by Alexis Hall: “The first thing you’ll notice when you crack open Alexis Hall’s Prosperity is that the book’s written in some pretty heavy vernacular. Piccadilly, an orphan and a guttersnipe, narrates the story with so much sass and attitude to spare that his language, if at first a little challenging to get into if you’re not expecting it, almost serves like an emphatic exclamation point to his hilarious commentary. As he’s grown up in the streets of London, he’s illiterate and is sadly hardened for a boy his age (eighteen, he reckons, but isn’t sure), and his interactions with so many different characters – mostly adults who’re educated in varying degrees – are a never-ending source of delight. He’s alternately exasperated, mystified, resentful, contemptuous, and childish in his dealings with his fellow adventurers. And from a hardened urchin who thinks lowly of himself, Dil gradually develops into a cautiously hopeful young man who starts to believe that, hey, he’s got some worth, after all.”

bsb-juniorwillisJunior Willis by Richard Natale: “Richard Natale’s Junior Willis is a beautifully subdued account of a man’s sexual maturation during some of the most tumultuous decades in the 20th century. The novella begins in the 1950s, when Tom Larson’s first tour of duty in the Korean War places him in the path of Colonel Philip Dore, a married and closeted gay man who awakens Tom’s true nature. From here on, the story follows Tom through the years as he not only falls in love, but also gets himself hurt again and again, the miserable laws of the times compounding the pain by forcing him to suppress his needs and lose himself in work, if not seek comfort and questionable companionship in brief and unsatisfying liaisons.”

22224746Mending Him by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee: “There’s no emotional wallowing in this book, which can be the downfall of historical gay romances, given the outlaw nature of same-sex relationships. Part of the book’s strength lies in the authors’ masterful use of restraint in laying out the complications and the triumphs not only of the lovers, but also of the Chester family, whose loving relationship with the two men shapes painful choices they all make along the way. The resolution to the problem of gay lovers in the 19th century is also plausible; modern readers might grieve over the lack of an out and proud relationship, but in their practical and emotionally rewarding way, Robbie and Charles prove to us that men in their position can carve out a happy life together, regardless of society and, especially, family. There’s defiance tempered by prudence and vice-versa, and one can’t ask for anything more.”

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Lisa:

17453304Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder by Nicole Castle: “I’m in awe of this author’s ability to write a story starring not one but two characters who should be unappealing in every way. Nicole Castle has made Frank and Vincent loveable to a degree that has left me obsessing over this book. It’s a hallmark of truly brilliant storytelling I haven’t experienced since reading Maria McCann’s As Meat Loves Salt and I fell for the insane Jacob Cullen. This author’s writing style is fresh, her characters funny and vibrant, her version of romance refreshing, and this book is one disturbing, endearing, horrifying, and sexy surprise after another.”

WicklowsOdysseyWicklow’s Odyssey by R. Cooper: “The timing of this book couldn’t be more perfect, and you don’t have to be a Civil War history major to appreciate the events that build up to one of the more tension filled and action packed climaxes I’ve ever read in a book. You need only know the motives for the war, who fought it, and its outcome to understand how beautifully R. Cooper has twisted it to suit this clockwork, steam driven adventure, where a great iron beast is the Trojan horse that, if not lamed, could bring victory to the South. Every single anachronism purposefully woven into this novel does nothing but add to the sense of intrigue, every single character introduced along the way not only adds to the adventure but also exposes more about Wicklow Doyle, revelations that are sometimes frustrating, sometimes heart-tugging as he tries to understand what he’s feeling, but each and every one is a new layer peeled away from this complex man’s prickly exterior.”

BSB-TurnbullHouseTurnbull House by Jess Faraday: “With its (The Affair of the Porcelain Dog) brilliant and stunning sequel, Turnbull House, the continuing story if former rentboy, Ira Adler, and his ex-lover Cain Goddard (the infamous Duke of Dorset) Jess Faraday has done nothing more than secured her place on my must-read-authors list, and did it in little more than the opening paragraphs of this book.

With characters who are layered with charm and complexity, settings that play out visually like a full color series of daguerreotypes on the mind, a mystery that reveals how far apart Ira and Goddard have grown since Ira walked out two years before, and a fluid prose that draws the reader into the lives of the characters and the time of the story, Turnbull House is as flawless a historical novel as I’ve ever read.”

Daron_Omnibus_Cover_500px1-231x300Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volumes One thru Five) by Cecilia Tan: “As addictive as any books I’ve ever read, as heart-rending as any series I’ve ever loved, Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is, if not perfect, the quintessential compilation of music, drugs, sex, love, lust, and pain. My one fear as I got farther along in Daron’s saga was that the author would fail in her effort to keep this storyline fresh and vibrant and emotionally encompassing through its hundreds of chapters. I’m happy to report she damn well did. Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is a brilliant feat in fiction, far too luminous for this simple 5 star rating.”

2146294723251880Baal’s Heart (Caged and Sacrificed) by Bey Deckard: “Bey Deckard has written a book that’s a study in contradiction and a sublime characterization of three men who will eventually become one, introducing two characters in the dominant Baltsaros and the submissive Tom, two men who should be difficult, if not impossible, to love, but then makes it entirely impossible not to love them. When Jon comes between them, through no fault of his own, and then falls in love with both his captain and with Tom, becoming the foundation upon which both men will anchor themselves, Jon risks not only losing his heart but his sense of self, in the process, and it’s an evolution that’s a glory to witness.”

“As impressed as I was by Bey Deckard’s debut, Sacrificed has exceeded any and all expectations I might have had for the follow up to Caged. It’s a grand adventure the author is taking us on, a journey of heart, soul, and imagination that promises, at the end, even more to discover as this extraordinary series continues.”

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5 Stars, Bonnie Dee, Historical Romance, Reviewed by Rena, Samhain Publishing, Summer Devon

Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon’s “Mending Him” Is A Pitch Perfect Historical Romance

Title: Mending Him

Author: Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 243 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: “As his world collapses, love opens his heart.”

Robbie Grayson has always felt like a bit of an outsider in the Chester family, though he’s related by blood. An orphan taken in at a young age, he is further set apart by a limp inflicted by a childhood illness. Continue reading

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Bonnie Dee, Samhain Publishing, Summer Devon

“Gentleman’s Keeper” Is A Historical Romance That Tells A Heartwarming Story

“Together in our house, in the firelight, we are the world made small.” ― Jennifer Donnelly



Everett Gerard is not what anyone might describe as paternal. In fact, the words used to describe Gerard run more along the lines of libertine, gadabout, and then, of course, there’s always his unnatural appetites he must keep secreted away from London society.

Gerard has made a life out of travelling the continent and appeasing those appetites with various like-minded men. He’s not at all interested in the quiet, gentrified country life to which he was born, even though his familial estate is still there, slowly falling into a state of disrepair from his negligence. The abbey is not a place to which Gerard plans to return. Ever. It’s a place that holds too many horrific memories, ones Gerard has spent his lifetime trying to run from, so why ever would he want to go back?

Well, it turns out there’s one very compelling thing that could lure Gerard back to his ancestral home, and that would be a letter from his bailiff, Miles Kenway, informing Gerard that his bastard child has just shown up looking for his father after his mother’s death.

Miles isn’t particularly fond of the abbey’s master. He’s heard the rumors and the outright truths about Gerard’s exploits, not to mention experiencing firsthand Gerard’s apathy toward anything that even remotely resembles the estate’s business and upkeep. His opinion of Gerard couldn’t be much lower, and Miles doesn’t hesitate to let his master know where he’s lacking, in spite of the fact it may cost him his position. For Miles, what’s most important is to get Gerard to the abbey to take over the managing of not only the estate but his son as well.

Young Ipsial Gerard is little more than a feral child who’s been forced to live hand-to-mouth his entire life, caring for his mother in whatever way he could, which usually involved a lot of thievery and very little in the way of mothering. A firm hand and a father’s guidance is what the boy needs, and Miles means to ensure Gerard upholds his end of the bargain.

The Gentleman’s Keeper is a Victorian era romance constructed around the building of a family, both in those to whom you want to belong and those you want so much to belong to you. As Miles and Gerard work together to pull Ipsial into some semblance of civility, one bribe at a time, they also grow to love each other despite some of their misperceptions of each other in the beginning.

There are a few things to like about this book—the storytelling is briskly paced and the language is spot-on, immersing the reader into the thick of the historical setting. I grew to like Gerard and Miles and loved the way they found a common bond beyond their attraction to each other, wrapped up in a boy who they both cared very much for.

There was, of course, an antagonist in the story, as well, one who felt a little underutilized and too easily overcome, but he served his purpose in helping the story move toward its happy ending. The one thing, however, that kept me from truly loving this book, even with its strengths, was the development of the relationships between Gerard and Miles, Gerard and Ispial, and Miles and Ispial. I try not to dwell so much on the show vs. tell argument, but there are times that it’s just critical to the building of believable relationships for me, and I felt there was some show-me missing from this story that, in the end, made it a pleasant read, a very heartwarming tale, but didn’t set me over the edge into a place where I was emotionally invested in the relationship between Gerard and Miles as much as I was glad that Ipsial had finally found a home.

Reviewed by: Lisa

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