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’.