My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh Richard, you and your sense of position and fear of abusing your power, you beautiful idiot. And David, brilliantly clever David, what a pair you made.
This book stunningly brings to a close Charles’ Society of Gentlemen stories with a pairing which is both utterly compelling and also extremely frustrating as society position and hide-bound adherence to the rules of the Ton keep two men so obviously perfect for each other apart.
There’s not as much overt politics on this one, it’s much closer in tone to a traditional Regency romance with the hero fighting to overcome obstacles in his way and learning a few painful home truths along the way.
There’s also more of a sense of adventuring in this one as the Ricardians must rely once more on David’s impressive talents to keep their secrets and see off once and for all an enemy of the group.
There were odd bits which I didn’t think worked quite as well as the previous novels when Charles used actual political events to twist her plot around. Richard’s trip to the wilds of Yorkshire to visit his estranged mother seemed simply to be a vehicle through which he and David could be alone enough to ‘have a moment’ rather than a necessary journey.
However, that’s the only real niggle in what is another wonderfully realised glimpse into a period of history which saw huge political unrest and change in Britain.
Oh and a final thought, Charles brilliantly places people of colour and a ftm transgender character right into the heart of this world with narry a second thought. Their skin colour and sexual identities are referred to only in passing and only as part of a deeper exploration of the incredibly dangerous line this group of men were following simply because they loved within their own gender.
I think sometimes it pays us well as a society to see how far things have changed and why they still need to go further and why we should never stop fighting for people to be allowed to love.