Publication date: 3/17/15
Summary: Love wasn’t supposed to be part of the bargain…
On every visit to Madame Delacroix’s brothel, Nathaniel Travers requests the same man. Stunningly handsome and highly skilled, Jasper not only shares Nate’s fondness for wickedly erotic games and black leather corsets, but he has become a trusted confidant. And Jasper’s the only person who knows Nate longs for a committed relationship with his childhood friend, Peter Edmonton.
Unrequited love hurts, but it hurts even more when the object of affection is in love with another. Jasper Reed has been working at Delacroix’s for a decade. He’s saved enough to retire, yet he remains at the decadent London brothel. Leaving would mean leaving Nate and the hope someday the rugged gentleman would stop pining for his best friend and realize he loves Jasper, just as Jasper loves him.
Edmonton’s impending marriage looms before them, causing Jasper to take another look at his stubborn heart. Yet Jasper’s a bastard whore, and Nate’s the nephew of a viscount. Surely there can’t be any hope for them…
Review: I know I’ve said it before, but Ava March is just the queen of historicals, providing complex imperfect characters who make me care about what happens to them. This one is no exception. Just loved this story, about Jasper, a whore at Delacroixs brothel and Nate, nephew to a viscount and object of Jasper’s unrequited love. Nate loves another, and Jasper is always there at the house for him, despite the fact that he has enough to retire from the whore’s life. If not for the brothel, how would he ever see Nate?
Nate is not a stupid man and he’s really not a selfish one. More, he’s an oblivious one, caught up in the best friend he believes he loves and despairing as that best friend (who really is a loyal friend) finds love and gets married. Nate falls apart and Jasper listens, supports, cares and satisfies, hoping for love in return yet knowing because they are worlds apart in standing it will never happen. He is so sweet, so heart breaking.
They have known each other for five years but only through the brothel. It is heart wrenching to read Jasper’s unrequited feelings, all the while knowing they can achieve no purpose. When he finally comes to the conclusion that he needs to move on from Delacroix and from Nate, their last meeting is so sad. It is here that you do get to see more of Nate’s uncertainty, unsureness, of other areas of his life. He questions his ability to run his family’s company and questions his own decisions. This is where I felt the man doesn’t trust his own judgment and so is unable to see what he really wants.
For his part, Jasper knows what he wants. He wants Nate, and that being impossible, he wants out of the brothel. The purchase of a country house in Shere is the catalyst for change. I did wonder – who taught Jasper, a boy who grew up the impoverished son of a whore in St. Giles with broken windows and half-empty bottles of gin – to be able to blend into polite society. At Delacroix, he wasn’t required to be in the main room and show off social niceties.
Once Nate pulls his head from the ground and realizes what is what, the story increases in romance and sweetness. First of all, I adored Jasper trying to figure out his garden. So much of life is new to this man and it’s precious. He has earned the right to be content. Nate’s arrival in Shere heralds a new era, one where Nate and Jasper are on equal footing, no pound notes between them.
This may be my favorite Ava March book, mainly due to Jasper’s character. I found the historical elements to be realistic (Catherine’s excitement over her first supper party was also sweet). The sex between Jasper and Nate is a little kinky, a lot tender and a whole lot of hot. As always when reading something I loved, I wanted more.