A scoundrel who lives in the shadows
Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London's slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.
A soldier untarnished by vice
After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman's life-one that doesn't include sparring with a ne'er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack's pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they're together.
Two men only meant for each other
Cat Sebastian has used a character-driven plot to bring us Oliver and Jack.
For me, there is no better element to play with in historic romance than the one of class divides, particularly in eras where your social position defines the way a character interacts with their world. Cat Sebastian has used a character-driven plot to bring us Oliver and Jack.
Jack’s life has always had an element of ‘on the edge’ living. An ex thief/servant he’s now transitioned to a sort of private fixer, using his unique and unfiltered view of the world and its accompanying less than perfect elements, as well as a malleable morality to draw conclusions.
Oliver, raised to the gentry, wants nothing more than to forget the horrors he saw during the war, learn to deal with the aftereffects, and proceed with a quiet life more fitting with his early upbringing. He’s a softer, more by the books sort of man, not quite completely buying into the class divide so revered by his peers, but not quite sure that all of the complaints and questions are legitimate.
Together Oliver and Jack are adorable: there is an instant attraction that keeps them circling one another, but it is the conversations and the questions that they bring up, as well as the very solid Holmes/Watson vibe that plays throughout the story. These moments show the gradual development of the relationship and connection between them as well as the broadening of perspectives and horizons that this relationship has brought.
While not quite a “read all of me now” story, the pacing seemed to take cues from the personal development of each character, lifelong beliefs and perspectives that are gradually changing direction. In a world where homosexuality was illegal and secretive, this story translated a modern twist on the Love is Love theme beautifully, framing it in a story that feels wholly historic and ‘of an age’ without overplaying the judgment from society but still acknowledging the stakes.
A wonderfully written debut, full of historic detail that surrounded and informed the characters that came to life so wonderfully. Sure to please fans of M/M romance and historical alike.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.