Liviania’s review of The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Soldier’s Scoundrel, Book 2) by Cat Sebastian
Gay Regency Romance published by Avon Impulse 7 Feb 17
Avon Impulse books are published at a price point that draws me in, especially when they make a debut book available for 99 cents. That tempting price is why I gave The Soldier’s Scoundrel a chance. I thought it was a charming debut, even if it compared one hero to a porcelain doll too many times. (It was a surprising and delightful description the first time, but it got hammered into the ground by the end of the novel.) It wasn’t a hard choice to give Cat Sebastian’s second novel, The Lawrence Browne Affair, a chance. M/M books, like any historical romance series, don’t let any sibling go unpaired. In The Lawrence Browne Affair, Georgie Turner (the brother of Jack Turner) gets his own happily ever after.
Georgie has to leave London quickly because an attack of conscience left him persona non grata with the gang leader who used to be his friend. Jack uses his connections as a fixer to get Georgie a job as a secretary to Lawrence Browne, the mad Earl of Radnor, and determine just how mad he is. It’s an instant attraction, though neither man acts on it at first. Georgie has a fairly libertine view of the world, but Lawrence has been taught that his desires are part of his madness. Meanwhile, Georgie is holding back because he already let himself care too much for a mark once, and he’s not sure about his ability to compartmentalize a relationship. And he has too, because swindling from Lawrence could get him back in the gang’s good graces.
The Lawrence Browne Affair starts with Georgie already halfway to redemption. His biggest block is admitting to himself that he wants to go straight, and it is understandable that it takes him a while to realize that, given the risk to his life. His most pressing motivation to steal is to end the danger to himself (and his family) rather than for enjoyment of the thievery itself. Lawrence doesn’t need redemption, but thinks he does due to the wickedness of his father and brother. He feels he must be damaged in a similar way to them; after all, he has fits when there are loud noises and nothing can calm him aside from his loyal dog. (A modern reader can clearly interpret this as a learned response from his abusive childhood.) Because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, he’s become a hermit and focused all his attention on inventing, letting his home continue crumbling to ruins. Georgie has the tough task of not only convincing him that there’s nothing wrong with him, but also encouraging him to interact with others in person.
The two men each help the other to learn more about his good qualities. Georgie doesn’t believe he can be anything but a con artist, but in that role he developed interpersonal skills, an agile memory, and became deft at understanding what people want. He stumbles right into a career that suits him well, when he takes on the position as Lawrence’s secretary. And yet, Georgie is tempted to turn on Lawrence and use his wealth to get himself out of power. Meanwhile, Lawrence did have a few people left who cared to help him, but no one who could pull him out of his shell and show him that he was different from his family. Falling for Georgie motivates Lawrence to push himself.
I think Georgie might take a bit longer to set his feet on the path of redemption than some readers prefer, but I enjoyed it. I thought both characters showed excellent growth throughout the novel, both together and alone. Sebastian did a good job of convincing me that they’d built a relationship that would last, even with the struggles of being two men together during the time period. I also enjoyed the way she wove the plots about Georgie’s exile from London and Lawrence’s erstwhile son into the progression of the romance. I’m quite looking forward to The Ruin of a Rake, especially if Sebastian keeps improving her skills. I do like to see a dissolute hedonist brought to their knees by love.
An earl hiding from his future . . .
Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.
Read an excerpt here.
Other books in this series: