Review: The Gentleman’s Book of Vices by Jess Everlee
Is their real-life love story doomed to be a tragedy, or can they rewrite the ending?
Finely dressed and finely drunk, Charlie Price is a man dedicated to his vices. Chief among them is his explicit novel collection, though his impending marriage to a woman he can’t love will force his carefully curated collection into hiding.
Before it does, Charlie is determined to have one last hurrah: meeting his favorite author in person.
Miles Montague is more gifted as a smut writer than a shopkeep and uses his royalties to keep his flagging bookstore afloat. So when a cheerful dandy appears out of the mist with Miles’s highly secret pen name on his pretty lips, Miles assumes the worst. But Charlie Price is no blackmailer; he’s Miles’s biggest fan.
A scribbled signature on a worn book page sets off an affair as scorching as anything Miles has ever written. But Miles is clinging to a troubled past, while Charlie’s future has spun entirely out of his control… –
I RECEIVED AN ARC OF THE BOOK.
Dear Jess Everlee,
For the last couple of years I cannot recall reading a historical m/m romance that worked for me (maybe a couple or so did, I just do not remember), so when I was offered arc of your book I was tempted.
I certainly was not bored when I read this story. I don’t recall a historical romance which has the main characters meeting over one of the characters asking another one for an autograph. I thought this was unusual and fun and I liked it. I liked that even though both men had their own issues and they did not always deal with those issues right away, to me they still acted as adults even if sometimes misguided ones. Charlie and Miles, to me, were interesting characters. I enjoyed their interactions, chemistry and I actually found the sex scenes to be really fun. Please note that the sex had a little d/s element to me. They don’t talk about it in those terms, but one partner was more often in control and they both seemed to really enjoy it and so did I.
I loved the language of the story. I have to say again – I can miss anachronisms and if I did I apologize, but to my eye at least, overall the story did not read as anachronistic. I did feel that I was transported to end of the nineteenth century. Actually the whole story did not feel anachronistic. Miles, for example, had something happened to him few years before this book started and he is still dealing with the repercussions of that event on the pages of the book.
It felt very real and very time appropriate to me. I know that many many LGBTGIA folks found their happy endings in the past centuries of course, but they could not live openly and they often could not express a “devil may care” attitude about whom they loved. I wish more historical romances would reflect that. I am not advocating for showing people being afraid all the time (of course that is a very valid and very possible scenario), I just feel like in many alleged historicals, characters throw caution to the wind and I am just not buying. I am glad that this book did not follow the trait.
I also liked that amongst the issues both characters were dealing with was figuring out how they were going to be making money even if they were approaching it from the different angles. Miles trying to decide what to do with his book shop and Charlie well, Charlie actually also had a profession he was good at. Charlie’s family were far from being poor, but they were not nobility either.
I think Charlie’s impending marriage plot also ended quite unexpectedly for me. I am sure I am not the only one who has read a historical m/m romances where the problems one of the main character is facing are solved by him getting married, then he and his wife miraculously remain friends and it turned out she was a lesbian too. I don’t mind when this happens – super contrived, but I would take happy ending over no happy ending any time I can. Here the author went a different route and on one hand I was very grateful and on another super annoyed.
At the end we learn about a giant manipulation in Charlie and Miles’ story which cheapened their story for me a great deal. I don’t care that good intentions were involved, I disliked it a lot.