Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5
Charles Hawkins is a former soldier who was saved from death in Napoleon’s war by his friend, Edward. Now Edward has come begging a favor. He needs Charles to host his youngest brother, Sebastian, for a month at his remote country estate and try to convince Sebastian not to get their father to purchase a commission to allow him to go to war as well. Edward survived the war but two of their brothers did not. Edward is afraid that Sebastian is going into it as “….nothing more than another jaunt.” He believes his brother to be “… young, foolish and seemingly incapable.” This is a big favor to ask because Charles wants, no, needs, his solitude. But how do you say no to the man who saved your life?
Sebastian’s arrival at Charles’ home is less than exceptional. In fact, he arrives so drunk he falls out of the carriage, face plants, tells Charles he is pretty and then sleeps for hours. It is not an auspicious start to the month. Upon sobering up, however, Sebastian is a different person. He is quiet, kind and polite. Charles doesn’t regale him with horror stories of war. Instead, he questions why Sebastian expects his family to pay for things. “Hardly a babe in arms. Why do you feel your family should provide everything for you?”
Sebastian has a secret, however, and it is one that has made him feel inferior and useless in every way. He doesn’t feel there is anything he can be good at. He wants the respect of his brother and father, to make them proud, and he feels fighting is the only way to do that.
Sebastian needs to move. He “…just wanted to get out into the sunshine, take off his coat, and do something physical before he burst.” This is another thing that makes his family look askance at him. Why can’t he just be like the others? Add in that all his brothers resemble each other – dark haired and short – while he is fair and tall and it makes him feel more alienated. I have to say that I loved Sebastian. He tries so hard, suffers so much and is such a good person. He’s trying to be the best he can for his family in any way he knows how.
The estate has only Charles and his two manservants, Coulson and Blackstone. They are loyal to Charles and as Sebastian begins to work around the estate, they become friends with him. Charles is much more reserved than any of the others, but he has some truly terrible memories of the war and the guilt and pain weigh on him greatly. That being said, he is also a kind, intelligent man who listens to Sebastian and tries to help him.
The story is relationship focused, not just on sex or love, but on learning to trust. There is a point where Charles doesn’t react well to a confidence Sebastian shares. He doesn’t yell or carry on, he just doesn’t understand the import of it until later and when he does, he makes a point to do what is right by Sebastian. Loved that. Historical M/M romances are sometimes so dependent on suspending belief for the relationship, as being hung is a real threat, but the way this worked out made me believe it could work. I loved the last line and felt it was so fitting to the feel of the story.
This is a lovely story and I would recommend it particularly for fans of historical romance.
The cover art by Written Ink Designs is a Sebastian against the books and desk of Charles. I thought it was fitting to the mood of the story.
ebook, 136 pages
Published August 25th 2018 by JMS Books
Edition Language English