Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
William Wilkerson leads the life of the privileged rich. Head of his father’s shipping business, he indulges to his heart’s content in the pleasures of the flesh with Boston’s finest young men.
That is, until he reunites with Fredrick: his former tutor and the one man who captured his heart.
But William’s father has declared Fredrick off limits. And Fredrick, himself, believes he’s beneath the attention of the Wilkerson heir.
After having lost his current pupil to graduation, and with no prospects of a replacement, Frederick is homeless, hungry, and easy pickings for the men on the docks.
When Frederick is shanghaied into service on William’s own merchant ship, will William discover his plight in time to rescue him?
Sweet William is an short historical romance by Dianne Hartsock that is simply a sweet, quick lovers reunited story set in Boston in 1894, but sometimes manages to lose the tone and feel of the times its set in.
The blurb above pretty much sets out the entire story which Hartsock fills in for 48 pages, including lots of sexy encounters, some sexual assaults, and a romance that while sweet, never felt as thought it had much depth.
The story is like a pretty bauble as they would say back then, lovely if you don’t have too high expectations. William, the heir, has been pretty much a man slut, behaving recklessly with men in an age where that could lead to jail if not a hanging (that’s not quite addressed here). Frederick the teacher (only a few years older than William) is cast off, finds another job, loses that and somehow remains naive, longing for his first love, a bit of a “lost bunny” of a character with no apparent self preservation instincts.
The characterizations and back history just didn’t have enough time in the story to come together. Or perhaps it was how they were presented in the story, but whatever it was, they lost a certain amount of chemistry and connection because it felt disconnected in the shortness of the tale here.
Yes, the villain was perhaps the final downfall. He was evil incarnate in the “old fashioned” way. His actions towards Frederick were vile, yes. But there was just something about Frederick’s predicament that didn’t seem believable enough, that what followed lost their reality as well. He came away feeling more like Snidely Whiplash then a viable human predator.
And none of the above addresses the times the story was set in, which I only got a small feeling for. In short, maybe my expectations for an historical romance are set high, higher than this story reached. Others might just overlook my issues, and enjoy the romance for the lovers reunited PWP short novelette it is. I’ll leave the decision up to you.
Cover Art by: Adrian Rafail. I love this cover. Its charming, the tone is perhaps as is the character.
ebook, 48 pages
Published April 22nd 2016 by Wayward Ink Publishing
settingBoston, Massachusetts (United States)