Jake and Oliver try to solve a mystery and resist each other.
This is a really well written regency romance, and the characters are well thought out.
This is a LGBTQIA+ book, that means a lot of people don’t want to read it.
London, nebulous Regency time after the Napoleonic Wars. Jake is a “scoundrel.” He helps ladies. He lives above his sister Sarah’s dress shop. He gets a gentleman caller, even though he doesn’t see gentlemen. The man is good looking. This man is Oliver the son of a duke. Jake recognizes him from a time when he saw the other man in a compromising situation with another man. Oliver wants to know what Jake did for his sister. Jake won’t tell her. His sister tells him he has a lady to see him. Jake tells Oliver he’s welcome to sit and watch. The woman tells Jake that some letters from an old beau have gone missing from her jewelry box. She needs to get them back before her husband sees them. Jake tells her he will help her, but that he may not tell her anything and that he’ll do it however he sees fit to proceed. She agrees. Oliver, doesn’t like how Jake is approaching this situation, he believes the lady should have gone to the police.
He interviews her ladies’ maid, who gives him the lowdown on the lady and her husband (she’s new money, he’s from the gentry, they got caught in a compromising position forcing him to marry her). Jake decides to break into the lady’s home to see what’s what.
Oliver makes friends with the lady’s husband at his club. He also spends a lot of time thinking about Jake’s questionable methods and straddling of the moral line.
Oliver’s sister’s sister-in-law calls on Oliver to tell him that his brother-in-law is back and to get Jake. Oliver waits for Jake at Jake’s place. When Jake comes back Oliver fusses because he’s hurt. Oliver eventually remembers to tell Jake about the brother-in-law. Jake arranges for a man to watch the sister and brother-in-law while he finds someone to take care of the problem.
Oliver and Jake travel to the country to track down leads for their case (flirting all the way). Oliver has trouble taking off his boots at the first way station they stop at and Jake happens to come in and helps him. Sexy-times ensue. When they get to their destination, they hook up again. They question the ex-beau’s new wife, and the former governess. More sexiness.
Oliver decides that they should stop and visit his father. Oliver’s father then tries to malign Jake’s name. Jake gets summoned because the brother-in-law is dead. Oliver feels torn.
Oliver goes to a party being thrown by the lady in question. Jake goes as his valet (and is not happy about it). Jake puts everything together and works everything out and gets shot for his trouble. Oliver and Jake break up because Jake won’t ruin Oliver’s reputation.
Oliver decides to ruin his reputation with Georgie’s help, in order to be with Jake. Jake catches wind of this plan and stops Oliver from completely ruining himself, saying he’s just low enough on the social ladder for them to associate with each other.
They buy a flat together.
Oh man, Regency Romances are a semi-secret favorite of mine. They’re like the epitome of Harlequin romance. This is a gay Regency Romance. The combination of two things I really love. What could possibly go wrong?
I’ll admit it, the only negative comment I have about this book is that it can be a little slow sometimes and the juggling of the romance and the mystery can get in the way of each other. There were a few times where the romance between Oliver and Jake was heating up and the plot would interrupt and vice versa and it would frustrate me (sometimes in a good way).
The plot isn’t too terribly unique, but it is a nice little mystery that drives the story quite well. There’s a lady in trouble and our dashingly handsome (and sarcastic to boot) hero needs to help her out (this time by breaking and entering, questioning people and definitely not falling in love with her). Then you have the beautiful brother of one of the women who has hired our hero, who is initially trying to save her honor. Things happen, boys fall in love.
I like that the author didn’t shy away from the fact that this romance was definitely NOT COOL in regency days. She never lets the reader forget that even though these boys are in love, that society just won’t let them be together (openly).
Jake was definitely my fave. He has his eyes on the prize (both solving this case, and winning over Oliver for a roll in the hay). He’s pretty down to earth, and understandably wary of “gentlemen.” He was sarcastic, badass, and just vulnerable enough to let Oliver in (no matter how many times the man was an idiot).
Oliver is just as flawed a character. Fighting to stay in a black and white world after being in a very grey war, and having to realize that the world isn’t black and white no matter how much we wish it to be so. He’s pretty haunted by his past, and fighting his nature because he’s in love with Jake.
The supporting cast is pretty interesting as well, the sisters (both Jake and Oliver’s), the evil brother-in-law, Georgie, Oliver’s dad, and the married couple at the center of the investigation. I’m glad to see that some of these side characters are going to get their own books.
The setting is, naturally, London. I like the way the seedier side is shown, and the contrast to the more upper class end. At odds with both sides of London was the countryside. Each setting had their own flavor and feel, which really worked for the book, clearly delineating between different parts of the story.
This was a good romance, one that I enjoyed even though there were some slower parts. The characters were interesting, and I would be interested in reading some of the other stories in this universe.
Regency (Historical) Romance
Wanted, A Gentleman by K.J. Charles
A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries
M/M romance published by mainstream publisher.
Book Discussion Questions and Ideas
Discuss Oliver’s way of coping with reintegrating into society (Black & White outlook).
Discuss Jake’s soft spot for ladies.
Discuss being LGBTQIA+ in Regency times.
Why I Chose It
It’s a legit romance novel (with the cliche cover but with 2 dudes) from a legit publisher (Avon Impulse, which traces back to Harlequin itself). I’ve never seen a legit published, not horribly covered m/m novel before. (Don’t get me started on crappy covers for LGBTQIA+ books)