Author: Dominique Frost
Reviewed by: Lucy
Genre: M/M Steampunk
ISBN 13: 9781623003494
Summary: Anthony Clark, degenerate genius and impoverished nobleman, finds himself wedded to the painfully proper young aristocrat, Stephen Ayers. They’ve been pledged since before Stephen’s birth.
Will their marriage prove intolerable to them both, or will they find a happy equilibrium, instead? As Anthony teaches Stephen the pleasures of the body, will Stephen be able to teach Anthony the pleasures of the heart?
Review: Anthony is an inventor, degenerate yes but he does pursue his work with devotion and he puts his inventions to noble uses, helping the poor, refusing to make weapons. He is an equal opportunity seducer, playing faro and drinking. Now, however, his life is taking a detour. He was only 15 when he was betrothed to the newly born Stephen Ayers, son of a very wealthy family. Anthony needs the money and does not intend for his marriage to take away from his pursuit of other pleasures, especially due to a prim, virginal thing such as Stephen.
It is the typical fashion of Anthony that when he meets Stephen he is rude, condescending and talks to a friend instead of his betrothed. The wedding is not what he wants and he acts like it. He is sneering about Stephen’s chastity up to this point and generally acts like a rakeheel. Surprisingly, Anthony makes Stephen’s wedding night something to be remembered and thoroughly enjoyed. They are good together and Anthony is gentle with his new husband. It was endearing, sweet and sexy.
As they progress in their lives together, they learn to please each other and there is happiness, even as Anthony still pictures his future with sex outside the marriage bed. This vision gets pushed farther back, though, and Stephen proves time and again what a lovely man he is. The lab, especially, and Anthony is amazed that Stephen “was…his. For life.” That is, until Anthony is an ass and in a moment from his past, drinking overmuch at a faro hall with his tongue down the throat of “woman of the town”, breaks Stephen’s trust even as he tries to act as if it were all what he wanted in the first place. Ass.
I loved watching Anthony’s realization that he had finally grown past that degenerate lifestyle to a deeper one with his marriage to Stephen, only to realize it was his own folly that has taken away the affection and care that Stephen had for him. I love that Stephen isn’t “simpering cuckold”, in his words. He is a strong man; more so, an honorable one.
This story, while having steampunk elements, is more on the interaction between Anthony and Stephen. Watching Anthony try to rise above what he was to what he can be was wonderful. The added complication of Rathington just makes him work harder. Highly recommended.