Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Five stories of men and the secrets and lies that shape their lives…
Deceived—The hatred between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae is well-known, and the source of much gossip at court. Each one too stubborn to walk away, determined to make the other one the first to break, they spend their days fighting or ruthlessly ignoring one another. Determined to put an end to the matter once and for all, and to give the notoriously rakish Benedict a taste of his own medicine, Rae sets upon a deception only to realize that there is more than one deception afoot…
Scandalous—Gideon has led a very strict life since the death of his parents, determined not to live the scandalous life that led to their untimely demise and to bring up his little brother in a more stable home. Journeying home to settle the matter of a new tutor for his brother, Gideon is waylaid overnight by foul weather at an inn. He encounters a beautiful young man who is more temptation than he is able to resist, and Gideon impulsively decides that one night, with a complete stranger, cannot possibly come to any harm…
From Afar—Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward…
Lessons—There is very little that Jude has not tried or seen, and his shameless behavior has earned him the reputation as the most notorious rake in the city. The one thing he does not do, however, is innocents. Then he chances upon a young man late at night in the park, amused to learn the man is attempting to write a love letter of all things. When he learns that Crispin despairs of ever catching the eye of his love because he is too innocent to be appealing, Jude impulsively offers to teach him all that he needs to know…
The Highwayman—When he receives word that his home is being plagued by a highwayman, Bartholomew immediately sets off for the family estate to see to the matter. When he arrives home, however, he learns that very little is as he remembers it. Instead of one problem to solve, Bartholomew finds himself contending with a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with…
I love this collection of stories each linked together by location and primarily characters, flowing easily from one to the other. Arranged in perfect order, they build like a 3-star Michelin food experience with Megan Derr, the chef with all the prime ingredients and exquisite recipes.
Here are my thoughts on each.
Deceived – This is a enemies to lovers story between Prince Benedict and his secretary Rae. Each day is spend trying to force the other to quit/fire him based on the false assumptions each has allowed to accumulate over the years about the other. Until an upcoming masked ball changes everything. With the ability to hide behind gorgeous masks, their true personalities draw the men together. That and their shared love of fragrances. This is a wonderful story and a sensual one as well. I love the element of perfumes woven throughout. 5 stars.
Scandalous – Gideon is on his way home to his estate and his young brother when he’s waylaid by a storm and a night of hot sex with a delightful stranger. So many things to love about this story. There’s a fencing scene with where a lonely Gideon is caught ‘dancing’ with his shadow, the younger brother yearning for his older brother’s love and approval, and of course, a love story as well. So charming. And from this story we get to see the younger brother grown and looking for love in From Afar. 5 stars
From Afar – Pierce has all that anyone could want in life—an adoring brother who raised him when their parents died, the fame and adoration from being an accomplished fencer, and the best friend a man could have. What he wants, however, is to know the identity of the person who leaves him ardent love letters and why his admirer will not step forward. I liked seeing Pierce all grown up as well as Gideon and Tem too. This is probably the the story with the least depth. The admirer is easily identified, although I liked the poem aspect. 4 stars.
Lessons – This is absolutely perfect. A Rake who takes on an innocent who needs lessons in love because he wants to snare the attention of the man he loves. The story builds just the way you want it too, as does the love Jude starts to feel toward Crispin, something he’s totally unprepared to feel. Just a terrific story, one to give you butterflies, along with that great ending. 5 stars.
The Highwayman – Bartholomew, older brother to Crispin and all around family meddler, decides that he has to take charge of the situation when he hears that a Highwayman is working the area around the family estate. Once at the estate, after years away, Bart realizes that nothing is as he remembered it and perhaps there are more problems than he anticipated. He’s got a highwayman, a murderer, strangers, and an old friend who is nothing like the boy he grew up with. This is the longest story of them all and easily the most complicated in every way. The relationship dynamics, the convoluted plots, and the tricky resolution. It is also the most satisfying. A great way to end the collection. 5 stars plus.
Cover art by Aisha Akeju is dark and hard to see.
Sales Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon
ebook, 225 pages
Published October 26th 2011 by Less Than Three Press (first published May 21st 2008)
Series Deceived #1