Friday, July 29, 2022

Joanna Chambers - Restored

Eighteen years ago, Henry Asquith, Duke of Avesbury had to leave his kept lover, Kit Redford, in order to devote himself to raising his young family. Now, a lifetime later, his children are moving on and for the first time in years, Henry is alone.
During a rare visit to London, Henry unexpectedly happens upon an old friend of Kit’s and learns that Kit did not receive the financial pay off he was entitled to when Henry left him. Instead Kit was thrown out of his home and left destitute. Horrified, Henry begs Kit to see him and allow Henry to compensate him. But Kit, who now owns a discreet club for gentlemen of a certain persuasion, neither needs nor wants Henry’s money.
“Perhaps you should earn the money you owe me the way I had to earn it? On your knees, and on your back, taking my cock like a whore.”
Kit thought he had put his old hurts and grievances about Henry behind him, but when he sees Henry again, he discovers that, not only is the old pain still there, so is the fierce attraction that once burned between them. When, in a moment of fury, Kit demands a scandalous form of penance from Henry, no one is more surprised than Kit when Henry agrees to pay it.
As Kit and Henry spend more time together, they learn more about the men they have become, and about the secret feelings and desires they concealed from one another in the past.
Henry realises he wants to build a future with Kit but can he persuade his wary lover to trust him ever again? And can two men from such different worlds make a new life together?

Comment: This book is classified as #5 in the Enlightenment series, but in reality it reads as a standalone. Perhaps my memory is not that great but I can't remember if any of the secondary characters had already been in any of the previous stories...

In this story we have a romance affected by circumstance and wrong assumptions and some mismatched moves. Henry, the duke of Asquith, was in love with his lover Christopher "Kit", despite the contract they had but everything changed when his wife, the beloved mother of his four children, becomes ill and demands they go live in their country estate. He decides to give up his happiness for the sake of his family but never guessed his orders hadn't been met and Kit was actually left nothing.
18 years later, he finds the truth and decides to make amends. Kit is now an independent man and rather quick to forgive but is there any chance they will be able to rekindle the strong feelings they once shared?

I admit I'm rather traditional in my views of romances and I wish that Henry and Kit had had a different dynamic, more specifically I wish that Henry hadn't been married. I know it's realistic and probably more often that even romance books might indicate, but it did sadden me a little that Kit had to be an afterthought, even if emotionally they had such a strong bond.

This was probably the element I disliked the most, it made it look as if they could never be equals, even putting aside class. At the same time it felt unfair and this angered me a little, and I confess I could not appreciate the story as well as I wanted, being it colored by this first impression. Perhaps I would feel different if, for instance, they were to meet now, as older men and while Henry is a widow.

This aside, I don't tend to be such a fan of second chance romance because it never feels as if the feelings they have now can truly match what they had in the past. At least, I didn't finish the novel convinced they were such a good match anyway, their personalities were likable, especially Kit who had some flavor, but Henry is too quiet and unassuming for a duke... I know having money and status isn't a synonym for personality and influence and Henry is a sweet honorable men deep down, but I never warmed up to him.

As soon as they reunite and talk and start spending time together, their relationship becomes stronger and there was no doubt they would be lovers again and even renew their love declarations. I still found this to be too easy, too quick considering that happened before. I think the whole situation should have been dealt with more detail, not simply mentioned and put aside that simply. Still, it is true I liked they could find a way to match their lives and to think about the other one's feelings and needs. The HEA is cute and I suppose not bad at all, if one thinks about how the law used to be.

For me, the most interesting element was the secondary issues of the protagonists helping those near them. Henry has to consider his younger son's feelings, who wants to join the military despite Henry's fear of losing him, and how being a parent isn't choosing for your children, but to guide and help. I actually would have liked to see more of the relationship between Henry and children - grown ups already of course - instead of just the expected scenes during meals or such.

Kit has a good soul and he enjoys helping others, namely the young mother who works as administrative for his club and he does try to defend her against the man who raped her and won't help with the child. These problems and other situations related to this added some change of pace and interest, but all things considered, this was a rather boring story, in terms of content and development.

I have liked other books by the author better, to be fair. This does fulfill all the spots of what one might want from a story by this author but it wasn't as captivating as the original trilogy of the series, that is for certain.
Grade: 7/10

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