A Lord to Love
When I asked to review this short story I hadn’t heard of the author and knew nothing about this work, except that it was a m/m Historical Romance.
I was quite pleased when I learned it was set in an alternate universe, as that’s one of my favourite sub-genres and can be quite wonderful when done properly and with precision. Sadly, Lord to Love was not.
This ‘alternate universe’ just allowed the author to be lazy. In order to avoid the messiness of bigotry and hardship those in same-sex relationships suffered in the past – and continue to struggle with today – Sara Dobie Bauer just adds a sentence or two to indicate we’re not in England’s actual past any more, but does no more than that. We’re told a king at some point had a gay brother, so it’s perfectly okay for people to marry whoever they want, no problem. There’s no bigotry. Simple!
The only other ‘alternate’ in this universe is that the author has removed the legal ruling of primogeniture, (the system whereby titles pass to the eldest male heir) thus enabling a father to leave his title to his handsome, nineteen-year-old second son instead of his eldest who, apart from his chagrin and the odd grumble, doesn’t really fight the decision. Dispensing with this fundamental rule of the aristocracy allows one of the book’s protagonists, Lord John Morgan, to deal directly with the new Lord Harrison Price over a piece of land which has long been a matter of dispute between their two families. Because the elder Lord Price has just died, Morgan can deal with the object of his desire to seek a deal over it.
First of all, this author can write and I’m sure her novels are equally well written, but that only made my disappointment with A Lord to Love that much greater. Alternate Universes are not meant to make it easy for an author to get round real world problems and belittle them.
The death of the father, grief and vulnerability of the nineteen-year-old Harrison, makes things easier for Lord Morgan, who though only nearing forty, is still using an unequal power dynamic to negotiate his ‘special deal’ over the disputed land. It isn’t a spoiler to reveal the deal is to involve Harrison – whom Morgan has been obsessing over since he (Harrison) was sixteen.
The narrative is written in the first person from the older Lord Morgan’s PoV and to be honest I found it downright creepy. The whole piece is a non-story used to set up two graphic sex scenes with a first person narrator. I will just leave two quotes, which I felt inappropriate in context –
“Please, don’t go. I had no idea my body could feel like this, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react…”
He spurs me on with shouts of “more, John” until I’ve thoroughly dismantled any trace of his virginity.
In this piece of 11,000 words, the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for rights and equality is belittled, and the trope-laden seduction of a young, female virgin changed to the seduction of a grief stricken, young, male virgin. This is not progress for any genre of romance.
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