Rating: 3 stars out of 5
After scandalising his family name, wealthy brat Hugo is kicked out of his parent’s home in NYC, and tossed into the English countryside. There, he must live with his extended family and learn what it means to be a “gentleman,” or be cut off and left without his inheritance.
Brattish, reckless, and out of control, it seems that Hugo may never learn his manners. That is, until he meets his match: a stoic, no-nonsense valet, Sebastian.
Hugo and Sebastian are swept up in a forbidden fling, and they play a game of power.
Can Sebastian get a handle on his master? Or will Hugo’s foolishness leave him penniless?
I enjoy historical fiction and that includes historical romance. I love it when the author get an era factually correct and then draws me into it, making the times and characters come alive for me. And I think for the most part S.J. Foxx did that in The Valet. Set in 1900’s England, Foxx gives you a very “Upstairs, Downstairs” world of the very rich in England into which tumbles an American cousin called Hugo.
Hugo is the very essence of entitlement and selfishness. His deeds back home have gotten him banished to England and only if he “turns into an English gentleman”, leaving his caddish ways behind can he hope to return home and claim his own wealth. Foxx does a great job in giving us Huge the Brat supreme, which he is for most of the story. Too much in my estimation because I absolutely disliked this character. His personality and likability was so low that I had trouble seeing what attracted Sebastian to him. If the author had made Hugo Sebastian’s ticket out of England instead of there being an actual emotional tie this book would have made far more sense to me.
So throwing the romance aspect aside because that didn’t work for me, what I thought was interesting (and wished had been enlarged) was “downstairs” or working person element here, including the one that shows up towards the end of the story. The imbalance of power and lack of rights is clearly demonstrated here. Status and money rule and its impact on the lives is reflected accurately in this story. However, I felt about the romance, this element of The Valet is well done and the writing carries with it emotional heft.
If you like historical fiction, then you might like The Valet as an addition to the stories you have read so far. I thought the writing was well done, and the author’s take on the times clear and concise.
Cover art by Natasha Snow suits the story well.
Published October 30th 2017 by NineStar Press