Review: An Agreement Among Gentlemen by Chris Owen

Edward Munrow has had a change in circumstances. Going from being a gentleman of few means to being a wealthy land owner in less than a day is difficult enough to imagine, but being blackmailed into a marriage he doesn’t want by a Duke is just too much. Ned agrees to the marriage to keep his name out of the scandal sheets, and soon enough he is meeting Lady Jane, a member of the Duke’s family, and her son, Henri, the Viscount Langton. Langton is a delightful surprise for Ned, a young man just coming into his own, ripe for the sorts of debauchery Ned is best at.

Review by Erastes

First Impressions: I liked it. There were many things to like. *ticks off* Characters, the writing, the readability, and RED HOT SEX. I’ll say this upfront that Owen makes me jealous as his/her sex scenes are everything that I like to read, sensuous and steaming without being coarse in any way. I did have a few problems with it, however.

Characters: In the main – I did like the characters. I liked the rather juvenile behaviour of Edward – and Griffith (his man) is just uproariously brilliant. I know I’ve complained about some historical fiction being “Everyone’s gay and Everyone’s OK about it” before, (now officially known, in this blog as “OKHOMO”) but I couldn’t complain about it here. Edward DOES take steps to limit the danger from the outside world, as well as he can, at least, and Griffith, as I’ve said, is a comedy turn well worth the money of the book on its own. He verbally bitch slaps Edward at one point, and his digs and asides about his master’s behaviour (whilst still managing to be a servant and not a friend or lover) had me chortling.

I particularly liked that Langton was a “lamb with teeth” e.g that he had his own thoughts and ideas – and I preferred him at the beginnng of the book, he got a bit too pliant towards the end, and became a Truitt clone. However – I couldn’t imagine that any aristocrat – if I’m to take this as being 1840 and within living memory of the Napoleonic wars – would call their son Henri. That jarred me a little.

I liked Truitt a lot too, it’s sometimes difficult to discern the lines between characters in a menage-a-trois fic, but Owen manages to keep all the characters with their own personalities.

Setting: I have to make a point here, because I’ve read a few stories recently that have the same problem; when I read an historical book I like to know when it’s set.

The back of the book says AAAG is a “Victorian Romp” but I was completely confused–there was nothing to anchor me in the Victorian Age–and if it hadn’t said that on the back, I’d have assumed it was Georgian. The characters travel from Berkshire to London by carriage, so I can only assume it was right at the beginning of the Victorian era as the Great Western Railway was up and running by 1841.

I think it’s a case of the writers knowing their books too well and not actually sitting back and looking objectively at them and asking themself “will the reader get the era?” There’s no need to info dump or do “As you know, Bob” dialogue

It’s easy enough to ease the reader into a sense of time – and I for one feel unanchored without it. But perhaps it’s just me.

anyway – it’s a minor niggle and one that probably wouldn’t annoy 99 percent of readers.

The main problem that I had with the book is that it didn’t really have much of a plot. That didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the whole sexy romp as a whole, but it had me wondering when something would happen.

Chekov said: “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it” ,and Owen sets up a conflict device in the very early stages of the book, but simply never follows through with it. I was waiting for that “gun” to go off, for the conflict to kick in, but it just never happened. Things just went from good to better to sublime for the characters, and in the end I couldn’t help but think that it was only all about the sex.

Writing: The writing was nicely balanced, a feel of the time, with a narrative voice that sounded and felt right, and excellent descriptive text. Owen writes quite cinematically if you know what I mean, and the surroundings and other characters are so well described without being at all heavy handed, that I could imagine what I was reading very easily. There were one or two minor Americanisms and one or two editing flutters but utterly minor.

If you like a nice uncomplicated love story with a lot of very well written sex then you’ll enjoy this. If Owen were to write another gay historicals I would certainly buy it without hesitation, but I hope that there’s more emphasis on plot and conflict next time.

Amazon UK Amazon USA

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