Summary: Sequel to The Actor and the Earl
Despite the uncomfortable clothing and the gossip at court, Sebastian Hewel is still enjoying the role of Lady Bronwyn, wife of Earl Anthony Crofton. But when Queen Elizabeth asks a favor of Anthony, Sebastian’s world fractures and his heart threatens to break. The Queen wants Anthony to seduce Marie Valois, the beautiful daughter of a French noble, to discover the whereabouts of her father, who is wanted by the King of France.
Sebastian knows Anthony can’t refuse the Queen, especially since he has something of a reputation at court. But the situation is further complicated when Marie meets Sebastian without his disguise—and starts flirting with him. Her brother, Nicholas, arrives at Crofton Hall, not happy that his sister has been linked to a man like Anthony, only to find his own head turned by Lady Bronwyn and her acerbic wit. Contending with the attentions of both siblings—and a very jealous Anthony—would be bad enough. But then Sebastian’s uncle demands Sebastian and Anthony stage Bronwyn’s death to avoid discovery….
A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.
Review: I enjoyed this, although it wasn’t exactly earth-shattering. You definitely need to read the first book, The Actor and the Earl, first since it sets up the entire relationship. I found that one a little more interesting, since it is the entire beginning of their relationship and all the drama you can imagine goes along with that. However, I complained that Anthony was kind of a dick in the first book, and he’s very sweet in this one, even if making a few insensitive remarks or plans.
I’m not sure how I feel about the entire premise of this book. I guess it was an interesting way to introduce some drama, but I would have preferred if it had been an event that occurred naturally or was related to them in some way (ie: the uncle drama). Instead, they have a royal decree to insert themselves into the situation.
Marie was sweet, but I was not particularly enamored with reading her parts, maybe because Sebastian was not enamored with her and that came through. While I liked the back and forth of Sebastian and Bronwyn, it made it so that he was only either one for a few days. So he befriends Marie as Sebastian with tales of a lost love in order to gain her trust… but then leaves and comes back as Bronwyn. It wasn’t orchestrated well.
I found the parts with Lord Nicolas and Bronwyn more entertaining, and perhaps due to the risk of their secret being discovered, more exciting. The climax worked well, but perhaps if Bronwyn had encouraged him more it would have made more sense. I guess seduction in this period was subtle, but Bronwyn really never encouraged him at all.
So anyway, an entertaining read. I enjoy these two and their dynamic, they’re sweet and I wish they could just continue on in a bubble and not be effected by the stupid court and gender roles!