Debut author Annabelle Greene brings us the brilliant first book in her Society of Beasts series, in which a quiet country vicar is unwillingly reunited with the duke who left him long ago…
As a young man, Sir Gabriel Winters left behind his status as a gentleman, turning his back on his secret desires and taking a self-imposed vow of celibacy. Now a chaste hard-working vicar, his reputation is beyond reproach. But, try as he might, he’s never forgotten the man he once desired or the pain of being abandoned by his first love.
Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Caddonfell, is a notorious rake, delighting in scandal no matter the consequence. With a price on his head, he flees to the countryside, forced to keep his presence a secret or risk assassination. When Edward finds Gabriel on his estate, burning with fever, he cannot leave him to die, but taking him in puts them both in jeopardy.
With the help of a notorious blackmailer, a society of rich and famous gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, and a kitten named Buttons, they might just manage to save Edward’s life—but the greatest threat may be to their hearts.
Society of Beasts:
Book 1: The Vicar and the Rake
Book 2: The Soldier and the Spy
Greene debuts with a promising gay historical, the launch of the Society of Beasts series. In 1818, Gabriel Winters, the staunchly moral vicar of a rural English town, unexpectedly reunites with his long-lost childhood friend, the libertine Edward Stanhope, Duke of Caddonfell, when Edward seeks refuge at Hardcote House, his family's abandoned country seat, after committing the "hangable offence" of seducing the Duke of Sussex's son. With Sussex's men after Edward, circumstances force Edward and Gabriel to live together, and the pair soon rekindle their long-dormant desires with a breeches-tightening kiss. As Gabriel and Edward navigate their turbulent but sensual relationship, Edward's brother, Maurice, and Gabriel's sister, Caroline, arrive at Hardcote to help Edward evade Sussex's wrath by digging up dirt on the duke's past. Their plan to blackmail Sussex into backing off leads Edward and Gabriel to travel to London to visit the Society of Beasts, a secret gentlemen's club founded by Edward. Greene is stronger with the breathless romance than she is with the intrigue that overtakes the narrative toward the end, but the characters are all finely drawn and amusing, and the period details are well wrought. Greene's off to a strong start.