My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I find myself lacking the necessary words to properly articulate just how much I loved this book. I’ve read many a Regency romance which uses the Cato Street incident as a plot point but never one which so skilfully weaves it into the narrative for an unconventional relationship between two men at opposite ends of both social and political spectrums.
That Charles also manages to make this a story of BDSM is really tantamount to her talents in writing this period of British history. Her phrasing, the use of time period correct dialogue and the objects which would have been available in the early 19th century, all work to add authenticity to her crafting of two truly individual men.
Dominic is driven, a Tory and a firm believer in the work he does at the Home Office, he’s also repressed, struggling with desires he’s been told are degenerate on top of the fact he is an ‘unnatural’ man and he’s still hurting from the knowledge his former lover couldn’t cope with those desires more than a decade earlier.
Silas, on the other hand, is as radical as they come, having already faced one flogging and a four month gaol sentence in his youth. He’s angry and agitating against the Government from his bookshop in Ludgate, while attending once a week at a select brothel where he puts his rages to better use helping an unnamed man.
They’ve talked and debated and burnt up the sheets for more than 12 months when they discover each other’s identities during a Home Office raid on Silas’ shop. Feelings on both sides are painfully bruised and Silas gives Dom a black eye to show for it.
Charles then takes them through a turbulent politically motivated dance of desires and wants, made harder by Dom’s duty and Silas’ pride.
Sex is incredible, the feelings these two men have for each other jump from the page in a tumult of emotions, despair, eroticism, brutal force and tortured submission. Dom needs to give in to Silas and sometimes he needs not to and to have his will taken from him instead. Silas knows his lover intimately, never pushing too far but taking Dom to the point at which he can surrender without guilt.
These two are an amazing pair and their relationship is carefully built and developed under the backdrop of the said Cato Street plot. When lives are put at risk, those around the two men must find a way to put personal feelings aside and Dom and Silas must find compromise without the cost of their love.
This truly is a bodice ripper, just without the bodice and a whole load of fancy coats instead. Regency romance at its absolute best.