This one is for the lovers of Regency Romance, a sub-category of historicals that is really popular in het romance. It follows most of the standards of RR, except that both main characters are military men, instead of dukes or earls. One of them actually has to go to work, since he has a desk job at headquarters, which is unusual to say the least. But they still go from ball to soirée, from Almack’s to Vauxhall, and they go riding in Hyde Park and mingle with the ton and they get dressed by valets and all that Regency stuff. If this is your first Regency you might find all that endlessly fascinating, but if it’s not, at least the Horse Guard setting is fairly original.
If that sounds like damning with faint praise, I am afraid you’re right. This book is decent, but it isn’t very exciting. It was predictable, with 90% of the plot twists foreshadowed well in advance. Theo was a stereotypical manly military man for Hugh to fawn over: handsome, capable, popular and confident. I have to admit Theo had some good lines, which stopped him from being a total cardboard cutout. The dialog was quite funny in many places.
Hugh on the other hand….. As all the other characters keep repeating, he’s just so… Hugh. Which must be their way of saying oblivious. Bland. Milquetoast. He is supposed to have all these hidden qualities that Theo falls for, but besides the fact that he could hold his own when the dialog turned fun, he didn’t do much for me. If Hugh was a color, he’d be beige. Of course, he wonders constantly what the dashing Theo sees in him, as the beige romance hero(ine)s always do. I didn’t hate Hugh or rooted for him to fail or anything, but I wasn’t very invested in his happiness either. We just failed to connect.
What also failed for me was the sex. I am not opposed to fade-to-black, that can work well. Two times out of three I skim the sex scenes anyway. But I am opposed to fade-to-vague-metaphors where ‘wanting to touch Theo’ means wanting to put his hands on Theo’s dick. In this case, where Hugh’s virginity and the illicit nature of their relationship are both huge factors it really wouldn’t have hurt to get a little more explicit with the sex.
The secondary characters were all quite flat, from silly sister to eternally wise and understanding friend and let’s not even go into Hugh’s brothers. And that is pretty much my whole problem with this book. It wasn’t bad, it just was a little flat and formulaic.
So my quest for the ultimate m/m regency continues….