Rating: 4.75 (rounded up to 5) stars out of 5
Duty, honor, propriety…all fall in the face of love.
As Lord Wellington wages war against Napoleon, Captain Hugh Fanshawe, third son of Lord Fanshawe, returns from the Peninsular War permanently injured. His leg torn apart by a French musket ball, Hugh is reduced to quiet, lonely days compiling paperwork at Horse Guards headquarters, the one place he can still make a difference.
From the battlefields to his office, now Hugh’s life is only interrupted by his mother and sister’s social schedule as he accompanies them to functions and galas. Hugh’s only solace is that his mother no longer tries to fix his up with “suitable girls” with large dowries, thanks to his injuries. Then Hugh’s restricted, lonely life is upended with the arrival of Colonel Theo Lindsay.
Theo is everything Hugh is not—a man of physical perfection and easy yet distinguished address. Surprisingly to Hugh, Theo appears to be interested in befriending him. Theo turns out to be a pivotal person in Hugh’s life. An embarrassing turn of events reveals their fondness for the company of men, and soon, a friendship forms that quickly turns into something sexual and deep.
But there’s a mighty war still being fought, and a suspicion of a French spy at work in the Horse Guards. The search for the spy’s identity and the subsequent revelations will have drastic consequences on all involved, not the least of which is Hugh’s heart!
What an amazing story! I am so fond of M/M historical romances but accompanying that love of historical fiction is a critical eye towards the locations, settings, and cultural references of the times. Too often that’s where a novelist goes astray, with dates, people and events not thoroughly researched. But not here! No, Sarah Granger has done a fabulous job of bringing the tumultuous times of the Peninsula War (1807 to 1814) to life in every way. Through the eyes of Hugh (our narrator) we overhear the correspondence to and from Wellington as the war wages overseas and the incompetence and politics interfering with Wellington’s progress (or lack of) at home. There are recounted clashes and tortured remembrances of bloody campaigns in Spain, and every scene, every bit of dialog feels believable and authentic.
But Granger doesn’t stop there with pulling us into the life of the English ton and upper society. Hugh’s young sister, Sophie is fond of milliners, mantua-makers and such and is often found regaling Hugh with the descriptions of her latest gowns even as Hugh’s eyes glaze over. I adored Sophie and her relationship with Hugh is telling, tender and happily contributes to our portrait of the man.
There are the uniforms of the 52nd Foot, the 95th Rifles and Horse Guards, the dress of the men in formal and informal occasions, the barouches, curricles, and phaeton’s and other horse drawn carriages of the times. There’s the mention that Hugh’s valet wishes his master would have his coats made at Weston instead of patronizing Scott, an inferior tailor. And when Hugh’s not paying attention, the valet manages to tie Hugh’s neckcloth in the Mathematical style. I could go on and go, the references accurately framing out the author’s time period for her story and giving A Minor Inconvenience a solid historical foundation and universe upon which her characters and plot stand quite easily.
However, wonderful an author’s world building translates, it still needs great characters to breathe life into the story. Hugh and Theo are marvelous characters believable in their ages, experiences and background. But no matter how much I adored Theo, its Hugh that’s this story’s emotional center. Hugh sees himself as a stolid, good sort of fellow. Not up to the gloriousness of his brothers and sister. The oldest George is now Lord Fanshawe, intelligent, responsible and grave in his duties. The second brother is James, a god in appearance, brave without fault, charismatic and an officer close to Wellington. Then there is Sophie, gorgeous, huge hearted, Sophie who looks like their mother, who made a brilliant marriage because she was and still is a well-known beauty. And then there’s Hugh, whose eyes and hair color are not a match for his mother or siblings. He’s serious, hurting over the loss of his career and disability and hiding his “unnatural” love of men. Hugh loves to fade into the background where he thinks he belongs. Trust me, Hugh will grab at your heart with all his awkwardness and serious demeanor. I adored Hugh, even more so when fitted into his family’s framework ( I love his family as well). Every character here is a marvel and necessary component to this story.
There is a mystery, well not so much of a mystery as I had the spy’s identity figured out. This part of the story is the only place that I felt needs a little more construction and layers to it. We build up to a reveal that never quite comes off as explosive or as dramatic as it could have been. That said, this part also caused me to bawl like a baby over the pain it causes a a main character and the events that follow. And yes, I love, loved the ending. It was funny, believable and a HFN as it had to be while the war was still being waged.
I would love to see a return to this couple and England after the war. What happens to Lindsay and Hugh? Does Sophie ever marry her rose-growing lord? I need to know and hope there’s a sequel to follow.
A Minor Inconvenience is what is said when referring to the damage done to Hugh’s leg. It’s just a “minor incovenience” , to all but Hugh who has to live with it. How I love this story and I highly recommend it to all, not just the lovers of m/m historical romance but romance period. I am going to search out more stories by Sarah Granger. I’ll let you know what I find!
Cover Artist ? I’m not sure who the cover artist is but they did a terrific job with the different uniforms and backdrop.
ebook, 264 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN 161921766X (ISBN13: 9781619217669)