For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.
Comment: This is the third full length installment in the society of Gentleman's series by author KJ Charles. I was quite curious to see how this story would play out but I had full confidence in the author's work and talent.
This story begins practically after the last one ended and we know Mason (from book #2) now works for Lord Richard not only because it was a way to get him out of suspicious places but also because Lord Richard is the man everyone in the group goes to for help and assistance concerning financial issues.
Lord Richard is a proud but fair man and he tries his best to honor his family's name, his brother's and even his own conduct. What he can't seem to ignore is his attraction and feelings for Cyprian, his valet. But Lord Richard feels very strongly about not overstepping the boundaries between himself and his servants.
David Cyprian is a well known professional valet and he is proud of it. He has tried his best to be indispensable to Lord Richard, he knows a relationship between them is impossible but he still dreams of it. Then one night, David makes a reckless move and things go horribly wrong... but can David still turn back time somehow?
I liked reading this book and I think it is a successful one in general terms. But I still think Lord Richard wasn't the hero I imagined he would be and the whole situation between the Ricardians (the name of the group) in the novel and another character who could expose them all seemed a bit too unlikely to be solved in a realistic manner. I can understand how such a situation - being gay and in love at a time and society where that alone could condemn someone to hang - would be tricky to maneuver and that it wouldn't magically be solved like a contemporary more or less can, but... I can't explain this well, and I do agree the way things worked out was the best possible, but it still didn't seem as smooth as I imagined.
As always, the characterization and personality of everyone is well done but there are things when it comes to general structure... for instance, both David and Richard have always felt attracted to one another, they sort of repressed their feelings and now voilá. I understand why we are told so and why the romance develops now. But how I wished we could have had more scenes where that sexual tension were more obvious because it felt they had need to distance between them and suddenly all changed.
At the end of things, this a good story but it does touch a subject not always easy to manage.
One of the biggest issues in this novel and why Richard and David can't simply live a relatively close life like Julian and Harry sort of do is because not only are they two guys who can't let others think they are close friends, but they are master and employee. The class difference is just simply too much and although they come to a satisfactory conclusion I still feel how unfair it all is. If David were a female employee, it would still be weird but easily accepted by society and they could be seen together as couple. The previous couples in this series aren't all equals in terms of social status but their connection doesn't feel as unbalanced.
David is very proud of his work and career (and well deserved too) but I can't help thinking in the eyes of society he is the one who loses the most. Of course this wouldn't matter to the romance but we are given this situation all the time and why it can't work that it starts to become too weird that it ends up being possible. In the end, the romance felt a little bit "manufactured" when I see it's not the case.
Ok, all in all, this has all ingredients to be a good historical romance, very interesting in terms of historical facts but despite my apparently more negative opinions, I still liked when everything ended up well.
But, as a whole, this was not such a great series for me as the Magpie Lord was when I read it.