Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cat Sebastian - The Lawrence Browne Affair

Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.

Comment: Having enjoyed the previous story in this Turner trilogy by author Cat Sebastian, I was very eager to read this one as well and see if it wasn't the case of the first book being a "one hit wonder". I'm happy to say I liked this one as well.

I this second installment we have the story of George Turner, the brother of Jack Turner, one of the protagonists of the previous book.
George is a man who doesn't go by many rules and his career has been one of swindler and thief. He gets in a complicated situation with one of the crime bosses by not abiding by the rule of deceiving a mark, an old lady he ends up liking and respecting. George needs to run and hide and Cornwall seems a great place since it's far. The job he gets is to wok for the Earl of Radnor, a man many consider mad and too weird. George arrives and understands immediately the earl is very smart, very focused, very introverted and very handsome. Surprising even himself, George isn't suddenly thinking about which items he could take when he leaves but he does do the secretarial work he was hired for and he can't help but feel he needs to take care of the earl. But he isn't a good man, is he?

The focus seems to be more on George and his changes, his development as a character but the earl, Lawrence, also becomes the narrative speaker so it's quite good to be able to have both their POVs, especially when things happen that affect both of them. Plus, it does make the relationship feel more balanced if we can follow both their reasonings instead of just guessing what one of them thinks.

This is, mostly, a sweet story about the redemption of a character and the self discovery of another.
I admit I don't usually like the so called bad boys or criminal turned good because it's unlikely and the situations are always about making good choices and that path never seems ass quick as a romance novel means to paint but the reality is that often we don't really have bad guys to start with (thankfully) and the redemption process is quicker, acceptable, hopeful. I liked Georgie's monologues and his decision to save Lawrence from his mistakes ans choices in the past and I can accept his decision to be a "good" person as just a need to complement the person he is in love with.
Lawrence also changes a bit, mostly his attitude towards others and what those others expect of him. Because he feels happier, he acts accordingly and it shows.

As for the way the author has inserted an m/m romance in an historical period, I think in this case it was easier to accomplish because the main characters don't live in such a populated area and their personal interactions can be restricted to the view of a minimum group of people. Of course, since they are both liked by those around them and since they make things brighter and doable because thy are happy, no one really cares. This is obviously a bit too imaginative but I can suspend belief for the HEA purposes. It's just so nice they are in love without expecting to.

The emotional aspects were well addressed here and the romance is cute and well paced, in my opinion. The secondary characters play their part but they don't steal the focus from the protagonists. I liked the easy writing and the fluid narrative.
All in all, a good story, I liked it and I look for to read the third one.
Grade: 8/10

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