It’s the last night of a week-long house party in remote northern England. Every sensual delight imaginable is right at Henry Shaw’s fingertips. Yet all he wants is to be with his host, the deliciously handsome and enigmatic Arsen Grey. Henry’s certain it’s love, not mere infatuation. He’s also sure it’s hopeless.
Review by Erastes
As the title suggests, Henry has an object of his desire – and that is Lord Somerville, Arsen Grey, who, at the beginning of the book is his acquaintance, his fencing partner but not his lover because he’s convinced that Somerville is a woman’s man.
At first I wrote this book off an enjoyable romp, pure and simple; a quick set up, a bit of pre-sex angst and then lots and LOTS of sex which is exceedingly well-written and most arousing. There’s even real breeches ripping, which raises a cheer.
Encouragingly, the book tips towards an interesting direction half way through and it was at that point, I thought, that the author missed an opportunity to create huge conflict–but it didn’t sustain and the moment passed in a heartbeat and the protagonists talked out the problem. Shame!
Although a fun quick read (about 90 pages) I was disappointed with the themes I’d seen done again and again–surely we are still a young genre that we can have more than (a) Great House (b) Orgy (c) BDSM ?
Certain things threw me, a few inconsistences, a couple of confusing modifiers and my pet hate tiny tiny sentences–that’s a personal dislike. Hate. Them. Also no consideration is taken for the difference in the worth of money from 1821 to now – Henry’s ex-lover is said to owe Somerville £10,000(!) which in today’s money, equates to (depending on which index you use) from £800,000 to around £8,000,000 … Again, small niggles, but it’s the sort of thing that, despite the hot sex, will throw out an experienced reader of historicals.
What saves this from a lower mark is the sheer quality of the writing. Ms March–despite the restrictions of length and the over-familiar themes–forces the reader to care about the characters but getting deeply into their point of view and making them ride the emotions with them. I admit to feeling every nuance of anger and fear and lust that Henry felt and that is what I always look for in a book. Definitely worth a read.