Author: Victoria Sue
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Summary: London 1810.
Their love was a death sentence.
Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, was aware of the slums and gin-lanes of London. Just as he was aware of the underground traffic that furnished the brothels and bath houses with human innocents. He was also aware that the so-called justice system would hang the accused without much of an attempt at a defense, unless the unfortunate had deep pockets to pay for it.
He just hadn’t expected to be directly involved in any of it.
It started with a plea for help and ended with forbidden love, the love between a Viscount and a stable-boy. An impossible love and a guarantee of the hangman’s noose.
Will Deacon fight for Tom? Will he risk the death sentence and take that fight from the stately halls of his English mansion to the horrors of Newgate Prison and the slums of London?
Or will he realize that if he doesn’t, death will be a welcome end to the loneliness of the sentence he is already living?
When Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, receives an urgent summons from a friend who informs him that Deacon’s best friend, Bo, is visiting a bathhouse where illegal male on male action takes place and that he’s just found out the place is to be raided, he drops everything to go get Bo before the raid. But, while he’s on time, he’s ill-prepared for some of the other things he sees—including an “innocent auction” in which a young boy is being offered for sex to the highest bidder. With Bo’s help, they get the young boy, Tom, out of there and get him sent away to Deacon’s country estate where he’ll hopefully thrive.
Five years later, Bo and Deacon are still both more interested in men than women, but Deacon must now marry because his father has just passed away, making him the duke. He finds out that he’s actually a penniless duke, whose estate has been allowed to fall into disrepute, right around the same time he discovers that the overseer has fled the country, taking all of Deacon’s available funds with him. But his main quandary is that he’s met Tom again—a very adult Tom—and is rapidly losing his heart to the young man. With no interest in women, he hesitates to pursue the match he knows he must make to bring money to his coffers. And in the midst of all this emotional turmoil, he then finds out Bo has been arrested and this time it looks like he may hang for his crime.
Not trusting anyone else to go with him, he and Tom set out for London and discover that Bo is not only jailed, but a powerful duke is behind the arrest, having come upon Bo and the duke’s son in the act of committing sodomy. Since Bo was topping, he’s accused of rape, and the duke is sparing no expense to assure that he can’t get away.
The author wove an interesting tale of a very frightening time in history and created two very endearing MCs and a number of interesting secondary characters, including the very charismatic Bo, for whom I was rooting throughout the last chapters. Unfortunately, Bo’s story didn’t end well, though Deacon had a surprise visitor who presented him with an easy resolution to his monetary worries, and at the same time, a way for Deacon and Tom to remain together. As Bo’s story shows, finding a happily ever after in those years and in those circumstances was very difficult, and though I guessed the solution before it was presented, I still enjoyed listening to my favorite voice actor perform it with all the drama it deserved.
Joel Leslie did an outstanding job, as usual, of bringing this story to life. I’m sure I would have liked it and given it 3 stars if I read it, but his performance truly animated the characters, thereby increasing my appreciation and my rating. If you enjoy historical MM romance set in 19th century England, with a taste of star-crossed love complicated by class differences, and a dash of exciting danger and intrigue, you may enjoy this one as much as I did. I definitely recommend the audiobook format.