BLURB: “How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”
Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.
Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.
No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.
When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.
Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.
But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.
Have you ever read a book that is so good that all that matters is the next page? This is one of them.
I knew from the blurb that I was going to love it, but I wasn’t prepared for how much it would engulf me into the world of Sir Evan Penhart and Julian Reece – a very unjust, brutal and unforgiving world where two men, against the odds (and boy, where they stacked against them) found love. It does have an open happy ending (surely their must be a book 2?) but in getting there, it fractured my heart over and over.
Over the years that I’ve stalked these authors (they are a writing duo) I’ve learnt to trust them because the “shock” factor is always present, laying in wait waiting to pounce on the unexpected. I mention this now as their was one particular dub con scene that had me shouting WTF!!! but, as I said, I’ve learnt to trust them “to do it right” and they did.
“Can you feel that?” I’d build you a castle in the sky if you could only want me the same way I want you”.
This is so poignant to the storyline, as love between two men meant a death sentence! And Evan knows this from first hand experience, only his position in Society saved him. His lover was not as fortunate…..
Because of this, he now lives as a recluse on his family’s crumbling and practically derelict Estate, accepting his fate of a lonely existence. He needs money to try and save it, so takes up the profession of Highwayman. One fateful night when out robbing, he holds up the coach with Julian Reece on board – he’s being sent by his father to get married. Julian is not happy with this situation – he just wants to drink, whore (and that is losing its appeal) and write his books. But he is surprisingly agile of mind (when sober) and quickly realises that this robbery could be his salvation – he just doesn’t realise just how true that really is at the time. It could be his way of getting out of the marriage his father is forcing on him and maybe getting some money of his own and so their journey begins…….
No spoilers from me as such, this book needs to be read without them.
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for. And then you take a leap of faith”
I will always remember that line, it’s so beautifully scripted and when Julian and Evan took that leap of faith, they found what true love really is. But I warn you now, it’s an arduous journey (remember I said it fractured my heart?), the writers gave us so much – authentic well researched historical storyline, dub con, violence, off the charts sexual chemistry, dubious morals, bigots but also…love. That leap of faith found someone worth dying for.
For me, Evan and Julian wasn’t the Black Sheep, nor the Rotten Apple. They were two men dealt a rotten deal in life but refused to be herded like sheep to the slaughter, they stood proud and tall and gave us the most enthralling and remarkable love story.
This is an all-the-feels 5* from me. I loved it.
***I voluntary reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of the book.***