Desert Isle Keeper
A Gentleman's Position
Everything I enjoy in a historical romance can be found in K.J. Charles’ A Gentleman’s Position, the third novel in her Society of Gentlemen series. Accurate, confident and luscious, the writing brings Lord Richard Vane and his ‘fox’, David Cyprian, to glorious life. I have awarded a richly deserved ‘A’ for this novel, one notch down from the rating AAR gave A Seditious Affair. the superlative second novel in this marvellous series.
Amongst his group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant upon whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. And for over four of those years, Lord Richard has turned for assistance in these matters and more, to his valet, Cyprian. He is an excellent valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius — and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. Nevertheless, Lord Richard believes strongly that if there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is that one should never dally with servants. K.J. Charles makes excellent use of this personal rule to ramp up the unspoken sexual tension between the two men.
David Cyprian loves his position as valet, and his devotion to Lord Vane means burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking; he’d do anything for the man he’s devoted to. There is only one thing David wants from his master, but it is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. Being a valet means David and Richard are in the position to touch without impropriety every day, but this also means the tension between them is growing to be unbearable. Slowly, the rules of class collide with overpowering lust, as they start to reveal their attraction for each other.
Sadly, explaining what he means and how he feels are not Lord Richard’s strong points and he pushes Cyprian away while trying to bring him closer. In the background, a situation is developing that could mean the ‘outing’ of one of their number, and tragedy for all of the ‘Ricardians’, as this group of men who orbit around Richard are known. Richard has caused Cyprian to leave his service and even though it will cause them both pain Richard calls on his ex-valet to help, as only he can.
The plot of A Gentleman’s Position is intriguing and incredibly well thought out. There are no misunderstandings without good reason, and understandable emotion. The fears and outcomes of the semi political/society scandal that require Cyprian’s particular help are real and written with precision and historical accuracy. It is hard for us to remember sometimes, but these men risked social exclusion, and often the hangman’s noose just for falling in love. K.J. Charles doesn’t let us forget this, which adds a certain poignancy to all the romantic scenes. Below is a passage from the prologue that I think illustrates perfectly, how to write sexual tension in an historical novel –
‘…David couldn’t move away, couldn’t beg his lord’s pardon for the clumsiness. Could do nothing but stand and feel the pressure of Lord Richard’s fingers against his, because his master wasn’t moving either. They should have pulled away, one or both of them, but neither did, and every tick of the clock as they stood and stared at each other, hand in hand, was a hammer blow that nailed the unspoken thing irrevocably into place between them. The unspoken thing, the forbidden hope, the one point that made David’s service feel like servitude because he could not even ask. But Lord Richard still wasn’t moving, his deep blue eyes locked on David’s and wide with shock, and now they knew. Now they both knew, and there was no pretending otherwise.
David could feel the blood thumping in the ends of Lord Richard’s fingers, unless that was his own pulse. He licked his lips.
“My Lord?” He cursed himself that it came out as a question.
“Cyprian.” Lord Richard’s arm shook a little, but his fingers didn’t move. “Cyprian – I -“…’
I have no hesitation in recommending this work to lovers of romance and historical novels. A Gentleman’s Position is a definite ‘Desert Isle Keeper’.
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I'm an English romantic, and an author who simply adores reading and writing books. I believe that all love has equal status, and all humans need and deserve romance. So, I am thrilled to be able to review LGBTQ+ novels for AAR and introduce more readers to some gorgeous LGBTQ+ romances and fascinating stories.
|Review Date:||April 6, 2016|
|Book Type:||European Historical Romance | Queer Romance|
|Review Tags:||cross-class lovers | Male/Male romance | Society of Gentlemen series|
So glad this book made the recent AAR Top 100 list!
A Gentleman’s Position is my favorite of the Society of Gentlemen series, probably because I simply found it to be the most romantic. Of the couples KJ Charles writes about in the series, this is the pairing that I would describe as most closely resembling “soul mates.” I’ve read the book numerous times over this past year.
And yet, as much as I love this book, I’ve never been able to rate it higher than B+. The reason is that I feel, each time I read it, that the author focused almost solely on the physical attraction between the H/H, and I wanted to hear the men talk about the *other* reasons they loved each other. When I read the story, I always have to supply those imaginary conversations.
For example, instead of just hearing David repeat that he wanted Richard from the moment he met him, and that Richard was so big and he loved his strength, etc., I wanted David to say something like this:
“You know I wanted you right from the start. But later, I saw what a good master you were, and how you took care of those who depend on you, from your brother and his family to your friends to the lowliest servant, while other wealthy masters begrudged their servants every penny of their meager wages and barely had time to spare for anyone but themselves. And that was when I knew I loved you.”
Or maybe “How could I not love you when you trusted me with your deepest secrets and always seemed to have faith that I could do your bidding, no matter what was needed? I suppose I thought you held me in high esteem, and I loved that about you. And I suppose eventually I thought you even loved me back.”
And as for Richard, how is it he could avow his love for David, and his misery when David left, when he didn’t even seem to frickin’ know that David had a mother he might have gone to, and that the mother actually lived not all that far from Richard’s own brother?
Considering that Richard saw David almost daily, for over 4 years, and Richard even spent extra time being a “clothes horse” so he could spend more time with David, how is it they never seemed to talk, even on the most perfunctory of topics? (Though they must have discussed the running of the molly house and logistics like that.)
I get that Richard did not want to engage in talk that might lead to intimacy, since he had the hots for David, but come on–he never once said “Of course you may take a few days to visit your mother. Does she nearby?” or “I hope your visit with your mother was pleasant”? Something that common courtesy might suggest he say to his valet? As it is, Richard seemed to know so little about David. This does not gibe with the Richard who desperately ends up missing him and their “close” friendship.
So anyway, yeah, as much as I loved the overall romance of this book, and the H/H as a couple, I’m keeping my rating at B+, because of (for me) the required fanwankery.