We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Historical
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would when I first picked this up. This had a couple of things that put me off at first. The writing just appeared to be fussy and overworked even for a Regency era story. I also had trouble keeping track of some of the characters as sometimes they were called by their names and sometimes by their title. But the more I read the smoother the story seemed to get and I stopped noticing those issues and instead became absorbed in the story of Wesley (Wes) and Nathaniel (Nathan)
The story begins in 1907 where we first meet Dr. Wesley Douglas who is stunned to see a mysterious figure around town who looks very similar to his old friend Nathaniel Thredgold. But Wesley doubts his own eyes as Nathaniel supposedly died years ago and this man is severely disfigured. Wes wonders if it’s just wishful thinking on his part.
Who’s also doubtful is the Earl of Ravensworth, Lord Lionel who informs Wes that the stranger indeed has come to him claiming to be his long lost son Nathaniel. Lord Lionel has invited this man to come and state his claim in front of him and his other two sons. He asks Wes to be present as well since he and Nathan were childhood best friends. While Lord Lionel is more than half way to being convinced and moved by Nathan's story, Nathan gets a different and frostier reception from both Wesley and the Earl’s youngest son, Frederick.
Wes ends up not being convinced that Nathan is who he claims to be. We learn through a series of flashbacks that Wes and Nathan shared more than a childhood friendship and in fact were lovers as well. It’s pretty clear that Wes was in love with Nathan at the time. Now ten years later Wesley is upset because the man claiming to be Nathaniel doesn’t appear to have any recollection of their prior relationship.
It’s not clear to Wes if this man is simply an imposter. He secretly fears that maybe Nathan was never as invested in their relationship and saw Wes as more of sexual outlook. Wesley also is insecure due to the differences in their financial and social status. The little mystery adds a nice edge to the story and it's rather fun to see the mature town doctor Wesley devolve into sulky peevishness as he works through all this.
The story really picks up steam after that and we're not kept in suspense overly long. There are other complications like Wesley’s engagement to a very nice woman named Beatrice and the work around each character has to go through to have the relationship they really want. I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy but by the end this turned out to be a delightful and fun story with a great deal of emotional resonance.