Talk about a compromising situation!
A storm of political intrigue, murderous mayhem and sexual hungers is brewing on planet Regelence.
Swarthy Intergalactic Navy Captain Nathaniel Hawkins ran from a past he had no intention of ever reliving. But when his Admiral asks him to use his peerage, as an earl and the heir to a dukedom, to investigate a missing weapons stash, he’s forced to do just that. As if being undercover on a Regency planet where the young men are supposed to remain pure until marriage isn’t bad enough, Nate finds himself attracted to the king’s unmarried son.
All Prince Aiden Townsend has ever wanted was to be an artist. He has no interest in a marriage of political fortune or becoming a societal paragon. Until he lands in the arms of the mysterious Earl of Deverell. One look at Nate’s handsome face has Aiden reconsidering his future. Not only does Nate make a virile subject for Aiden’s art, but the great war hero awakens feelings in Aiden he has never felt, feelings he can’t ignore.
After a momentous dance at a season ball, Aiden and Nate find themselves exchanging important information and working closely together. They have to fight their growing attraction long enough to find out who stole the weapons and keep themselves from a compromising situation and certain scandal.
(and again… cuz yea)
Nathaniel Hawkins killed the son of a family friend in a duel on his home planet of Englor and was subsequently disowned for his actions. Leaving that world and past behind, Nate embarks on a new career and life within the “IN”. An intergalactic monitoring group – think the United Nations but in space. When IN weapons go missing on the planet of Regelence almost twenty years later, Nate is asked to investigate as he’s familiar with the customs of the planet so similar to his home planet. Nate agrees but finds his focus more on the king’s son than the investigation, unable to control his physical reaction to the young man.
Aiden Townsend has very little time and interest in anything outside of his art endeavors. Thankfully not the heir to the throne he can indulge these whims and focuses so heavily upon them, he cares little for anything or anyone else. His repeated denials of a career and consort fall to the wayside once he falls in Nate’s arms, literally. From then on, Aiden can’t fight the physical attraction anymore than Nate can and begins to see the future he’s always denied he’d have.
Aiden is the third of five sons to the king and his gay consort. All the sons genetically engineered to have the majority of the DNA between the two men while effectively eliminating any pesky X chromosomes that are unwanted. The sons are also genetically manipulated to be gay before birth. While there is a bit of sketchy explanation offered based on Greek warriors, this idea is discomforting to say the least. The concept of genetic manipulation involving a variety of characteristics and genetic markers is not so futuristic but the idea of tailoring your perfect child to include how you would like their sexual orientation to be would be just as disturbing if it was a gay child forced to be heterosexual. It’s unfortunate the author choose to go this route to explain her gay society instead of a more permissive society.
That aside, Nate and Aiden were charming, developed and charismatic men. Their chemistry is immediate and obvious as is their physical reaction, which is uncontrollable and pops up repeatedly and often. The sex between the men is smoking hot with a slight D/s kink to give it flavor, which fit slightly with the differences in ages. Aiden’s quirky and entertaining personality left little doubt to his own charm and strength as a compliment to the gruff and serious yet caring older man. Their relationship developed quickly and without much artificial tension or drama, more so the progression was swept along on the tide of supporting characters, mystery subplot, and sexual chemistry. Thankfully there was a lack of the usual hue and cry over age and acceptability. Instead, this relationship was encouraged to grow and flourish from every corner.
Helping that relationship is the cadre of secondary characters that are plentiful and engaging. From the king and consort, who deserve their own prequel, to Aiden’s various brothers who all have scene-stealing personalities, each secondary character adds to the flavor of the story in a unique and captivating way. This includes Nate’s adopted son Trouble, who for all his name suggests really shone in the brief confrontation with Raleigh, showing a surprising depth and interest that had hereto been lacking in the outwardly immature and impertinent rascal. Jeremy, aka Trouble, was flat as a character until that scene where he showed hidden intensity and appeal, which grew for the remainder of the novel.
Additionally the ball scene with the various young men and dance cards was entertaining, witty, and appealing. The show of masculine ingenuity and defiance was a refreshing change from the overly feminine undertones to the role-reversal society. A serious caveat to the story hinged upon the young men in the traditionally feminine roles of coveted, virginal prize until they are wed or reach twenty-five years old. The young men alternate between witty, engaging men with a definite masculine feel to giggling men who gossip, oogle uniforms, and linger at closed doors. Often feminine characters could replace these men with no more than a change of pronoun. However, for all this was occasionally detracting, the author tempered it thankfully with scenes of humor, chemistry, and irresistible characters that allowed the disbelief to flow easily along with the fast pace and inviting prose.
Overall, I admit – I devoured this book. It certainly was not without its missteps and problems but the strength of the author’s writing shone in the ability to keep an interesting plot and likeable set of characters moving even while these problematic elements occurred. The sex scenes in the book were hot and explicit but thankfully spread enough that they neither overwhelmed the book nor were absent, it was just enough to keep the temperature of the romance well above the typical bodice ripper. Nate and Aiden, while not favorite characters, were certainly charming and appealing with an allure unique to their situation and relationship. The supporting cast all beg for their own stories which no doubt will be forthcoming. I’m sure the same problems will exist in future editions of the family saga, but as with this one, I doubt it will bother me enough to stop reading and enjoying.
Finally, in summary of a complete rambling review – this story delivered on well-written characters, developed relationships, humorous and witty dialogue and an interesting, albeit anemic, mystery to keep a consistent thread throughout the series. No doubt lovers of the author’s work and even new comers will enjoy this book, you won’t want to put it down.
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