It’s the 10th anniversary of The Actor and the Earl , the novel of Lord Anthony Redbourn , first Earl of Crofton, and actor Sebastian Hewel . This story launched two series (The Crofton Chronicles and Modern Crofton) and the beginnings of a long, remarkable love story.
The Love and the Anger is set in the early Stuart era and one of the best, most well written aspects of this story is the manner in which the dangers and obstacles this couple faces daily is woven into the many storylines.
Here, Anthony Redbourn and Sebastian Hewel have had ten yrs together , with their committed relationship known only to a few in their inner circle of family and friends. Anthony is married to the marvelous Lady Sara, who’s love interests lie solely with her ladies maid. But Sebastian remains stubbornly single, a state that in that era makes for a strained, stressful situation where he’s a constant matrimonial target for ladies and their families, while also being an extremely attractive sexual mark for all sorts of men and women eager for his bed.
Cohen excels at conveying the vulnerability of Sebastian’s situation and the spectrum of emotions it pulls from both men who are powerless in their hidden love . Anger, acute jealousy, irritation, anxiety, it all comes into play as the price of maintaining social niceties with members of the Ton while trying to protect each other.
The reader is never able to forget that there’s a power imbalance built into their relationship simply due to Anthony’s status as a married Earl. It comes with a great deal of security and power that Sebastian can only access by association.
If the true nature of their long established relationship was known, then it’s death or the Gaol, and all would be lost. This fragility, where any measure of safety and security is fraught with the dangers of exposure, brings a layer of overlying sadness and a pinch of bitterness into each scene of love and happiness.
It’s realistic and heartfelt. It’s there in the language the men use, the care they take in every situation not to raise suspicions, and the idea they’ve been doing this for ten years and will continue on is emotionally exhausting at times.
That too shows up in Anthony’s fears and jealousy.
The focus of the story is William, Anthony’s son and heir from his first, brief marriage. William is 14, getting ready for a university he’s reluctant to attend, and he’s rebellious in all aspects.
His actions, again he’s such a believable young teenager of that era, as well as a mystery plot where young children of the Ton are taken to be exchanged for large sums of money, make this a tightly crafted, beautifully written novel.
Cohen remains true to her research, no mention of the word kidnapping, which she says in her Author’s Note , didn’t appear until 1680. The cast of characters, some familiar some new, are layered and well defined.
But it’s always the deep, complicated relationship between Anthony and Sebastian that’s key. It effectively threads through each other’s scenes and exposition, whether that character is physically present or not.
The Love and the Anger by Rebecca Cohen is one of the finest stories in The Crofton Chronicles. It’s a must read if you are a fan of both series and this author.
I do recommend you read each series in the order they are written to see the characters, the relationships develop.
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com › showThe Love and the Anger by Rebecca Cohen
William, Viscount of Crofton, is missing, feared taken. Anthony Redbourn, 1st Earl of Crofton, is beside himself with worry and anger, and sets out with his lover, Sebastian Hewel, to find his fourteen year old son and bring him home.
Only William hasn’t been stolen away by a gang preying on the heirs of nobles. Enthralled by the theatre, he’s run away to join a troupe of travelling players, and all goes well until someone realises who he really is…
This novel is to mark ten years of my Crofton men. Anthony and Sebastian first appear in The Crofton Chronicles, and this story is set several years after Anthony, Earl of Crofton chronologically.
Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.