While LGBT is considered mainstream today, couples still face their share of prejudice depending on their socio-economic situation. Consider what it must be like to be a gay couple in Georgian England with its insurmountable social taboos. Ms. Connolly chooses to tackle this particular cause as she takes us behind the curtain into the life and love of Darius Shaw, an emperor of London and a scion of the noble family of Shaw. Darius is an intriguing man who openly acknowledges his gay status within the tightly controlled walls of his family. He choses to live life on his own terms, maintaining a certain discreet profile in deference to his family’s status in society while refusing to pander to the social norms of his times.
Being an emperor of London comes with its own set of social and political responsibilities, which find him in a seedy tavern one night. As it turns out, the night is the perfect trifecta: he identifies the spy he’s there to meet but also finds the one man in London who intrigues him beyond belief. While he is trying to come to terms with his feelings, he’s busted by a police raid on the tavern.
After a night spent in prison, the morning after brings a sober head, his nemesis Andrew to the rescue, a lenient judge, a fine and Darius homeward bound. As circumstances force Andrew and Darius together, they strive to focus on the matter at hand, keeping their desires tightly leashed. The plot thickens as the two chase spies, trying to save King and country at the cost of being outed for their desires.
I enjoyed the glimpses into the Shaw family who accept Darius for who he is and extend the same courtesy to Andrew. As we know, that is not true across the board for gay couples, even in today’s enlightened environment. If you’re looking for a meaty M/M romance, then this is not your book. The two don’t even acknowledge any feelings or exchange in any physical activity until three quarters of the way into the story. It is, however, a great action adventure story which leaves me in somewhat of a dilemma in how to rate the book.
In Georgian England, love can mean ruin—even for a Shaw . . .
Lord Darius Shaw has never been in love before. But when he renews his acquaintance with lawyer Andrew Graham in a raid on a molly house, where men meet men for forbidden pleasure, they discover mutual feelings as deep as they are dangerous. For while society will turn a blind eye to an aristocrat’s transgressions, Andrew has far more at stake. The son of city merchants, Andrew has a disastrous marriage in his past, and a young daughter to support. He could lose his livelihood, his reputation and even his life—and drag Darius down with him.
Darius and Andrew’s only choice is to deny the true nature of their relationship. But when an enemy Italian spy threatens their secret—and their futures—the two set out to catch him. And in the process they are forced to face their desires—and make a life-changing decision.
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