Series: The Shaws, #1.5
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I don’t normally read M/M romance, but I really loved Darius in the previous book and frankly wanted to see how Ms. Connolly was going to manage a HEA for a forbidden romance that in the era that such a love could be punishable by death.
This is the story of Lord Darius Shaw, third son to the Marquess of Strenshall and Andrew Graham. Darius and Andrew met in the last book when Andrew was called upon to defend his brother Val against murder charges. There was definitely an attraction between them, but Darius doesn’t believe that he can ever love anyone, because such a love would only cause pain and would condemn his lover to death.
They meet again when Andrew is part of a raid on a molly house, he has been sent there by General Court to meet with a spy and collect a list that is in the man’s possession. He enters the house and is surprised to see Darius there, he confronts him and then sees the man he was supposed to meet. As he moves towards the man, Darius steps between them and kisses Andrew. Andrew is consumed by the kiss and begins to respond, then reason kicks in and he pushes Darius away. But it is too late, his contact has fled and Darius is arrested.
Darius spends the night in jail and can’t stop thinking about the kiss – he wants Andrew and knows the feeling is mutual. Andrew comes to the jail and Darius taunts him, Andrew tries to get information about the spy from Darius, but he is not willing to talk. Andrew gets him released and asks him to join him for dinner.
Darius goes home and speaks with his father, he tells him that Andrew was looking for the spy and that he will speak to him and learn what he knows. He joins Andrew at his home and they talk over dinner, neither can forget the kiss or deny the attraction, Andrew initiates another kiss but are interrupted by a servant telling Andrew his daughter is ill. Andrew is a widower with a young daughter, something Darius did not know. When he learns of this, he knows he cannot act on his feelings because Andrew would be ruined and his daughter left with nothing. He returns the next and learns more about Andrew’s past, how he came to be married and his feelings. They then discuss the incident at the molly house and Darius tells him what he knows about the man, Matteo Bartolini, he is a spy for the French and for Rome, he has a list of English spies and is willing to sell it. Andrew offers to help catch the man, but Darius refuses and tells him that he cares for him, but they must avoid each other because any relationship is too dangerous.
They part and Andrew tries to keep busy and forget Darius, but he knows it is impossible, he has fallen in love. He is invited to a ball being held by Angela Childers, the owner of Childers bank and remembers Darius telling him that he should move in society more often. He goes to the ball and seeks out Miss Childers, she tells him she needs to speak to him and slips him a note with instructions. He arrives at the scheduled rendezvous and is surprised when Darius joins him. Apparently Angela summoned them both, she has information that about the man they are looking for, but she needs a favor. She wants Andrew to work for her, he agrees and she gives Darius the address of where Matteo is staying in Dover. She leaves and Darius and Andrew discuss the information, Darius tells him that he will go to Dover and Andrew should stay in London. As they leave the room, they see General Court’s son and he is attempting to sneak whores into the ball, they thwart him and leave the ball. Darius is torn, he is overjoyed to see Andrew again and knows that he loves him, but he can think of no way they can be together, so when Andrew asks why Darius is pushing him away, he tells him that he desires him too much and it is easier to be apart.
Andrew is restless and decides to go to his chamber offices, he is caught in a downpour and takes shelter from the rain by a print shop – in the window he sees a caricature of himself and Darius kissing at the molly house. He is shocked and leaves. He is confronted by his superior at the chambers office and is warned to take care, he is also told to leave until the scandal dies down. Angry, Andrew finds out who commissioned the print and goes to see Darius. He asks for his help in getting more information. He tells Darius that he will go to Dover and that he believes General Court’s son is involved. But he moves in circles closed to Andrew, so Darius agrees to stay in town.
While investigating, Darius learns disturbing news and knows Andrew is in danger. He rushes to Dover with his cousin Ivan, hoping he is not too late to save his love. Andrew goes to the meeting and is ambushed, when facing death, his only regret is not pursuing his love for Darius. When Darius arrives he finds Andrew laying on the ground, but he is alive! Heedless to any one else, he kisses him and helps him back to the inn. They confess their love and consummate their relationship. They return to London but still have no idea how they can be together. Upon returning Andrew learns the scandal has cost him more clients and he is still banned from chambers. And if that is not enough, General Court has summoned him. Darius arrives, he too has been summoned, but unlike Andrew, he is not worried. They confront the General and thanks to Darius, Andrew will not be charged with any crimes. As they leave, Darius takes Andrew to a house and tells him that he has a plan, Andrew is adamant that he will not be Darius’ “kept man” and Darius makes him a proposal, one that will let them be together as partners. He tells Andrew that he would marry him if he could, but that this is the best he can offer and that he loves him.
This was such a beautiful story and while M/M romance is not really my “thing”, I really loved this story. It is well written, flows well, has a bit of a mystery, a little bit of anguish, a lot of sexual tension and a HEA with a believable solution to a seemingly impossible situation. But be warned, there is a graphic M/M love scene, that might be offensive to some readers, but I thought it was really well done and enhanced the story.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to my by NetGalley and the publisher*