A solid historical romance story set on an estate in the countryside, not at the social events in London. Both Gerard and Miles are likable characters who are easy to root for. The book didn’t bore me, I finished it without resorting to having affairs with other books and I didn’t moan and groan and roll my eyes, and that is quite an accomplishment these days, really. What it also didn’t do is set my heart on fire and keep me awake at night. In short: I liked it, but I didn’t love
The main thing that stopped me from adoring this book is that there really wasn’t that much depth to it. If you’d go digging under the surface layer, the bottom of the sandbox is right there. Part of this was due to most of the characters’ difficulties being part of the past and only being mentioned in passing. That is just never as powerful for the reader as actually experiencing some of these things with the characters as they happen. I’d like to have seen some of Gerard’s year of debauchery (the blurb says years, but the book says a year and that seems a bit short to get it all out of your system). I’d like to have been there when Miles got restless at his place of employment, again, and had to move, and knowing better why he felt that need to uproot again and again. Whatever baggage these men carry as a result of their pasts is of course lightened by love, but the characters’ growth happens in such a predictable and obvious, almost ham-fisted way that it left nothing for me to discover on my own. I would have liked it if my intelligence as a reader had been rated a little bit higher.
As seems to be common in many m/m historicals there are hardly any females in this book. There is a housekeeper, whose main function seems to be to have a middle aged affair with the valet. And in the last chapter, Miles’ sister shows up to help out with the kid (and to conveniently occupy a different cottage, so that Miles can keep on buggering his employer in his own).
The kid was interesting. Not sickeningly perfect, although he did fall in line a bit fast for my taste. All in all I feel the book could have used a bit more conflict. All the conflict right now is external, but originates purely in the couple’s immediate society, through the kid and the cousin. The men have no conflict between them. Their secret is fairly easily kept and the larger concerns such as living in a society where homosexuality is punishable by death or the inequality of their professional relationship are hardly addressed.
All in all it was decent, but its beauty was pretty skin deep.