Genres: Historical Romance, M/M Romance
Published by Intermix
Released on April 17, 2018
An alternate history m/m Regency Romance set against the world of high society, the Season, and the Palace for a pair of unlikely lovers with troubled pasts by a new to me author. I most definitely had to give it a go.
A Gentleman Revealed is the first book of the Lords of Avenleigh series. I discovered once I started reading that its actually a spin-off of the earlier Noble Pleasures duo featuring a side couple in this series. I had no trouble beginning here, but I am curious now to go back for Arend and Julian’s story.
The alternate history is mild in that the country and places named are different, but this is the British Isles Regency Period (ignore the blurb on that one) and the glaring difference is that same sex relationships are not unlawful or taboo so it makes for an interesting variation when it comes to the fashionable Season, the marriage mart, and the dynamics of courtship.
Lord Marcus is a congenial, happy sort with three older rascally brothers and a widowed ducal father who wants his sons happiness above all. He has a gift for the violin and a penchant for a certain buttoned up, husky-shaped King’s Secretary with prim airs. He finally goes for it and the pair begin quite the tempestuous courtship.
Opposite to handsome and sweet Lord Marcus’ uncomplicated situation is Alistair Finley, secret illegitimate brother to the king and blackmailed into silence by the former king’s lawyer, alcoholic and overweight and bowed down by his own secrets has a difficult time first believing in Marcus’ interest and allowing himself to love and be loved.
I found this story a tough one to get into and had my moments throughout. Both Marcus and Alistair are drawn in such a way that they take turns blowing hot and cold and acting prudish and rakish in turn. I couldn’t get a bead on either of them until a third of the way through. It was an unhealthy relationship that needed to take a step back and allow for Alistair to heal before they could go further. Marcus was steady, true, and strong to the purpose despite him floundering in uncertainty about how he could best help and if love was going to be enough.
Alistair’s self-loathing that took the form in indulging in food and alcohol and raw feelings about his body image earned my pity. He was an unacknowledged bastard son and now must hide the truth from his brother because of that nasty, slimy lawyer who played mind games and emotionally and verbally abused him for years. I really wanted a building to fall on the guy. I didn’t know what to make of Alistair’s cousin, Sam, who in his own pain and trouble took shots at him, while claiming to be Alistair’s friend and accepting him as a fostered brother of his cousin. Everyone, Alistair included, treated Sam’s hurtful remarks like jokes. I was relieved when he did see what terrible pain his hurtful teasing caused.
Marcus’s family was hilarious with all those Scottish red heads that were spirited and mischief loving and a father who wanted them to act with honor, but also be happy. The family dynamics were great and Ethan’s role in Alistair and Marcus’ relationship was just amazing. Everyone needs a brother like Ethan. Marcus was amazing, too. He’d survived a scandal he didn’t cause and an abusive relationship in the past, but he still reached out and saw the diamond in the rough that was the troubled Alistair. Alistair pushed him away or strike out from his own place of pain and Marcus saw this. He was a beautiful soul as Alistair pointed out to him.
There were some interesting dynamics addressed in this deeper story- dealing with addiction, being accepted by family, being supportive of a person who has addictions, parental expectations, gender defined and reversed, and so much more.
Ultimately, it was all these complex layers along with the slowly emerging characters of the main players that won me over. This was a long book and had slower moments when I wanted them to get past the issues, but I also saw the need to take the time because these issues were huge and shouldn’t be swept over too quickly. Now that I’m introduced to the cast of characters and the situation I can’t wait for Ethan’s story next.
So, it took me a bit and then I was impressed with how the author handled deeper matters. I thought it was great to see how altering that part of history to allow same sex relationships to be accepted would create some fun, new opportunities for historical romance. I would definitely recommend this one to those who enjoy m/m historical romance on the spicy side.
My thanks to Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Romance Roundabout #118 LGBT
New Release #55