Author: Lady T.L. Jennings
Reviewed by: Lucy
Publisher: My Secret Quill
Genre: M/M Historical Anthology
Summary: “Different Desire” is a collection of four newly written Victorian gay romantic and erotic novelette stories:
Seduced by a Dandy
A Gentleman’s Secret
Captured by Him
Review: This is a collection of four fairly short novellas concentrating on the Victorian times. As is usual for me with anthologies, there were variations in how much I liked each individual story. As a whole, they are faithful to the time they represent, with some suspension of belief required (mainly due to the fact that being gay could get you killed and sometimes these guys were a little too open with leaving a ball together or being seen together). There are a few editing errors but overall the writing was clear.
Seduced by a Dandy – 2.5. My least favorite of the foursome, mainly because I kept expecting something else to happen that didn’t. The discussion of Nathaniel’s sister made me think she was going to be a part of something and that never panned out. The Italian Luciano is graceful and elegant and seemingly doesn’t care that people will see him with a man (which is one of the times I raised my eyebrows). Thereafter the story is mostly hot sex and it isn’t an HEA, more of a this is one night.
Temptation – 4. This story is shorter than the last but I liked it more. Winston Henley has been expelled from boarding school. Oliver Sanders is an Oxford scholar who deigns to tutor him because he wants access to the Henley library in order to finish his thesis. He expects a spoiled brat of a child who doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. Oliver is stuffy and uptight and dreading the job, even though it will get him something he wants. What he doesn’t expect is for that “child” to actually be a “devastating attractive young gentleman”.
When it turns out that Winston was actually expelled for inappropriate behavior with a boy, he lets Oliver know that his father had basically made him a prisoner. He was disinherited and had been locked in his room for three months. When he tried to leave once his father hired men to bring him back and ruined the company that took him in. So he has no direction in life. Oliver’s plan to save him, perhaps help them both, was a good one and well thought out. I liked that despite all of Winston’s flirting and trying, they don’t fall into bed together. They make sure the plan worked before they commit and it was sweet. I did laugh at the uptight Oliver’s idea that although he wanted to take Winston roughly, it would “be rather rude”. They had a way to be together and I liked that very much.
A Gentleman’s Secret – 3. This story was funny in spots, intentionally. It does lose a little from the back and forth first person point of view which sometimes got a little confusing. A thief breaks into a manor house that is supposed to be empty. He interrupts the owners sleep and is caught red-handed by the owner, who is wearing just trousers and is brandishing a Kenyan spear. It’s just a silly visual. The house, which had belonged to his uncle, is filled with artifacts and curios. It is these the thief is after. Simon, the thief, is cocksure and sarcastic and when he steals a kiss from Mr. Anthony Percival-Davis, it is with audacity. This is the first kiss for Anthony and sets off the changing of his life. Just an FYI to myself, I had no idea women weren’t allowed to attend funerals at that time.
Captured by Him -4. This was my favorite of the four because of Milton. The poor man, engaged to a woman he doesn’t love and doesn’t want to marry but is going so because it is expected. When he breaks down in the carriage, oh poor baby. The fact that his future wife is pretty and agreeable and his in-laws very rich makes no difference. Milton doesn’t want to be married. He has always been made to feel that he is not as good as his brother, Walter, even though he is actually the heir to his family’s fortune, not his brother. When his carriage is attacked by highwaymen, his oddly endearing defense of himself ends with him being stabbed. The argument he has with the highwayman who both stabbed him and saved him, Badger, was funny. (“I do not recall holding a rapier and somehow managing to stumble on a rock and fall on top of it”) His healing is slow and he gets to know somewhat the man who saved him, scoundrel that he is. And through this, he finds a way out of his hated future to embrace who he is. I loved it.