A MelanieM Review: Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads by Rob Rosen

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

MenOfTheManorCover2-413x600Thirteen authors with thirteen stories that take you back to the turn of the century to explore the Lords of the Manor and their varied relationships with the servants of the back halls and downstairs.  From the naughty to the salacious, from the  humorous to the romantic, all sorts of relationships are set against the backdrop of pre World War I Europe, a time where the wealthy aristocrats may only think they rule the world but the working class has far different ideas

Thirteen stories by various authors such as Dale Chase, J. L. Merrow, Rob Rosen, Brent Archer, Michael Landon and more explore the ups and downs, ins and outs of the Lords of the Manor and the downstairs help who serve them in so many ways.  Randy members of the ruling class and footman, manipulative butlers and hedonistic lords, and even a stable boy or two to bring joy and kink into an aristocrat’s life…variety is the spice of life and this anthology has it all.

Stories in this anthology in the order they appear in the anthology:

  • The Maze by Dale Chase
  • Finnias Laredo by Alex Stitt
  • Finsloe by Xavier Axelson
  • Booting by Salome Wilde
  • Seducing the Footman by Brent Archer
  • Folly’s Ditch by Felice Picano
  • Manor Games by Michael Roberts
  • Brass Rags by J.L. Merrow
  • Mutable Memories by Michael Bracken
  • Front Door, Back Door by Logan Zachary
  • Chauffeur’s Hole by Landon Dixon
  • Master Jeffy Learns a Lesson by Sasha Payne
  • Bohemian Rhapsody by Rob Rosen

Men of the Manor Anthology is described by its editor Rob Rosen as a sort of layered english drama of classes. Or in his words “Think Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, but with enough sex to make the town vicar blush.”  So how you feel about those shows and the expectations you bring to this anthology will determine what you think about the mixed bag of stories this anthology represents.

Only some of these stories can be considered romantic, one or two pornographic or  “erotic” depending upon your  classification of a “sex only” type of  short story.  There are a few revenge type tales or getting their comeuppance plots.  One of sexual exploration and epipanies as well as some hilarious installments that kept me giggling past the endings.  I loved those with humor, clearly they were my favorites.

What did I find mostly absent?  Stories that included romance, and perhaps deeper feelings that might just be love.  What can be found in abundance?  Sexual encounters of all kinds and places.  Sex scenes both casual and coarse as well as sexual liaisons that were instructive, illuminating and guffaw inducing.  One story of one type, a couple of another, and so on.  To appreciate this collection of authors and plots, a reader should bring an appreciation for a variety of sexual relationships and encounters found within this anthology’s stories or  they will find this a disappointing read.

Which were my favorites?  Brass Rags by J. L Merrow.  Merrow’s Algy, aka Lord Algernon Huffingham, had me in stitches for the entire story.  Algy, a sort of perverted Bertie Wooster (P.G. Wodehouse), is in search of his own Jeeves, one who comes equipped to deal with Algy’s very specific and kinky sexual desires.  He finds him at Blithering Coombe, the country estate of his friend Cedric’s father.  Oh the joys of Algy’s mind and musings.  Whether Algy is remembering fondly why he was banned from his father’s stables (being discovered being ridden and whipped like a pony by a stable boy will do that) or despondently telling Cedric that he prefers “horny-handed sons of toil” , Algy and his story will leaving you grinning and wishing they had their own series.  His humorous and singular voice deserves it.

On the more serious side is  Front Door, Back Door by  Logan Zachary.  A short tale of increasing anxiety and dread over the actions of a spoiled son of the landed gentry,  Zachary weaves a lovely tale of tenderness and comeuppance.  I thought the ending of Front Door, Back Door was especially well done and unexpected.  Just lovely.

Back to the unexpected and humorous, Brent Archer’s Seducing the Footman contained a wonderful unexpected twist that made me appreciate his story even more.  Manor Games by Michael Roberts has a loyal and mischeivous gentlemen’s gentleman, Tompkins, whose Master is unfortunate at cards.  What happens to level the playing field and bring a certain Kensington-Ffoulke to heal is an entertaining and hilarious game of cards never to be forgotten.  Master Jeffy Learns a Lesson by Sasha Payne is a delight if for no other reason than that title.  Good thing the well crafted characters and comical situations inside the story match up nicely with each other as well as the title.

Those were my favorites and they consisted mostly of the stories that you would consider light hearted, droll, and oh so entertaining.  I love the characters and the situation they found themselves in.  They “tickled my fancy” as none of the others did.  Plus they had staying power.  For a different reader, perhaps they might find them too light hearted and would be content with the offerings from the other authors.

Men of the Manor is only available in paperback format which can make buying a collection more problematic when such variety is involved.  That’s why I am hesitating in my recommendations.  If this was an ebook, I would absolutely recommend it.  Brass Rags by J. L. Merrow and Sasha Payne;s Master Jeffy Learns a Lesson would be worth the price alone.  But a paperback?  Not so sure.  You must decide.  If you are a fan of a majority of those authors, than go ahead and pick it up.  You will have a better understanding of what type of story awaits you inside.

Cover art by Scott Idelman/Blink.  Wish it had a more historical feel to it. Just ok.

Sales Links – Paperback and ebook: Cleis Press   All Romance $15.95   Amazon from $12.16  Men of the Manor

Book Details:

Paperback only, 232 pages
Expected publication: October 7th 2014 by Cleis Press (first published September 9th 2014)
ISBN 1627780661 (ISBN13: 9781627780667)

 

In the STRW Spotlight: Rob Rosen’s Men of the Manor Tour (contest)

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Focusing In On:  Rob Rosen and the Men of the Manor Anthology

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Rob Rosen here today to talk about the Men of the Manor Anthology, and sit down for another great author interview.  Rob has brought along a great contest to enter.  

Contest: a pdf format copy of Men of the Manor. Leave a Comment below with your favorite historical era or book, make sure it has an email address where you can be reached. Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Contest ends 9/21.

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Men of the Manor Anthology

Edited by Rob Rosen

Blurb:MenOfTheManorCover2-413x600

The country estate, masters and servants, mystery and intrigue,
sex and money. All go hand in hand in these turn-of-the-century
tales of what goes on behind the manor’s closed doors. Does the
master lure the butler to the phonograph room for a romp
behind the sofa, or does the stable boy have a tryst with the
footman while the lord longingly watches on? Does the aristocrat
drop his foppish manners when the butler helps him undress?
And do the classes exchange more than pleasantries when the
lamps are dimmed and the ladies retire for the evening?

Rob Rosen has gathered the hottest stories of romance and sex
between wealthy aristocrats and the hard-working estate staff,
all with a pre–World War I backdrop, including the fashion and
art and the latest inventions of the day. War is years way, the
estates are huge and sprawling, the fashionably elite have too
much time on their hands, while the toiling underclass are always
on the lookout for a means to a brighter future — no matter
whose bed they end up in. Think Downton Abbey and Upstairs,
Downstairs, but with enough sex to make the town vicar blush.

Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads
by Rob Rosen

Buy Link ebooks:    All Romance eBooks  Amazon      Men of the Manor Anthology

It is also in paperback.

 My Interview with Rob Rosen on all things Men of the Manor….

STRW:  Pre WWI era, why that setting?

Rob Rosen: It was during this time that manors, and hence servants, were commonplace. After WWI, and as a result of it, this way of life quickly began to vanish. Since the collection is about masters and servants, the timeframe I picked seemed to make the most sense. Plus, it offers a glimpse into an era that’s both intriguing and so vastly out of sync with our own.

STRW:  You seem to have all the genres covered: Mystery, Romance, History…a kind of Downton Abby for Lords and Lads. I love the idea for this collection. How did that all come about?

Rob Rosen:  Well, you already hit the nail on the head. Downton Abby is still a huge hit, and so a collection like the one I’ve put together seemed ripe for the picking. Cleis Press readily agreed with me, and, voila, Men of the Manor was born. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of stories about the haves and the have-nots, and the struggle between the two classes that results.

STRW:  Historical fiction is one of the hardest genres in my opinion to write. So many things have to be accurate for the time frame, including dialog and laws. How did that play into the authors chosen to write the stories or did it?

Rob Rosen:  Those things were actually secondary in my decision process. I simply chose the best stories, the hottest ones, but the ones that were highly literary as well. Still, you’re correct; the dialog did have to ring true, as did the social mores of the time, the dress, the way a manor is run. Fortunately, the authors in this anthology are all superior writers and were all adept at keeping with the theme.

 STRW:  Saucy lads and naughty lords…just the thought makes me gleeful. Any particular Lord come to mind when this subject matter popped up? Lord Darcy? Lord Byron, for example?

Rob Rosen:  Not really, no. In fact, the lords and masters in the collection are all strikingly different from one another. Some are caring and some cruel, some seeking the sex out, some chancing upon it. Yet all are well-aware of their power over their servants, and all the servants, in turn, are aware of their places in the house, which is what makes the inevitable sex that much more illicit, steamier, sexier.

STRW:  Do you see this as a one time collection or something that could be repeated with additional authors?

Rob Rosen:  I’d love a sequel! But, hey, only time will tell. Fingers crossed that Men of the Manor will be a big enough hit to merit one.

STRW:  I think I may have asked you this before but what do you find sexy?

Rob Rosen:  Literarily speaking, I find unexpected encounters sexy, when the characters find themselves in situations they never saw coming. Men of the Manor is chock full of just such unexpected encounters, of masters of the house suddenly finding themselves, sexually speaking, with the help and vice-versa, and then having to deal with the ramifications. These kinds of scenarios make for great plot twists as well.

STRW:  If this collection runs the gamut of the social structure of the time, does it do the same fiction wise? From serious angst to lighthearted comedy?

Rob Rosen: For sure! In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. A well devised anthology gives the reader the full spectrum of human emotion. So while some of the stories are deep and/or brooding, several are also lighthearted, romantic, sweet. And a couple are downright whimsical in nature.

STRW:  I won’t ask favorites, that’s not fair. But do you have a favorite historical novel or movie that you love to watch over and over again?

Rob Rosen: Hands down, Tea with Mussolini. But who doesn’t love a movie starring Cher and Judi Dench? In terms of novels, I’m a huge fan of Gore Vidal. I’ve read all of his historical novels: the Narratives of Empire series. I even got to meet the man and shake his hand!

STRW:   What’s up next for Rob Rosen?

Rob Rosen: There’s, thankfully, lots coming up. My next anthology, the renowned Best Gay Erotica 2015, will be out in December, followed by Warlords and Warriors early next year. And in February, my eighth novel, Creature Comfort, will be released.

If you want to keep up with all this and much more, please visit me at www.therobrosen.com or on his Goodreads author page.

Author Bio:

Rob Rosen is the author of the critically acclaimed novels, “Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Divas Las Vegas”, which was the winner of the 2010 TLA Gaybies for Best Gay Fiction, “Hot Lava”, “Southern Fried”, the Lambda Literary Award Nominated “Queerwolf”, “Vamp”, and “Queens of the Apocalypse”. His short stories have appeared in more than 200 anthologies. You can find 20 of them in his erotic romance anthology, “Good & Hot”. He is also the editor of “Lust in Time: Erotic Romance Through the Ages” and “Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads”. Please visit him at his website.