Sometimes, I read what on any measure is a pretty crap book and it leaves me with more questions, problems and curiosities than a good one would. So it is with "My Fair Captain" by J L Langley. One of the Amazon reviews starts, "If Jane Austen had written any gay science fiction this is not the book she would have written" which is a pretty fair assessment. For one thing, Jane Austen wouldn't call a "herd" of cattle a "heard".
If your brain is exploding at the idea of Jane Austen writing gay SF, you're not alone. Neurons are still flashing to their deaths in my brain, but I couldn't pass up the chance of trying it out. How does it work you're no doubt asking. Or if you're not, you should be.
Well, it's this way. The planet Regelence has a society based on Regency England; no explanation of why is ever given which is probably just as well. There is one major difference - all or almost all the aristocracy are gay men. They procreate by using some kind of gene splicing/cloning system which is never fully explained. Just as well, as given the standard of this book assbabies would have made more sense.
Those who expect that a planet run by gay men would be a bastion of freedom...well, not on Regelence. For one thing, the age of majority is 25...but they don't seem to have an age of consent and secondly a young man's chastity is guarded just as much as (or slightly more than) a young woman's in 1800 and he is supposed to remain pure until marriage. It is possible on Regelence for a young man to become compromised into marriage by accidentally being unchaperoned in a room with another unmarried man. The comedy opportunities offered by this arrangement are not fully explored.
The characters are attractive, which makes reading this bizarre speculation worthwhile. The lead character (who could have done with being 80lbs lighter and 5 inches smaller than described) is Nathaniel Hawkins, a captain with the Intergalactic Navy (Trek fans think Federation lite) and Earl sent on an investigative mission involving stolen weaponry, who on meeting Prince Aiden, one of the King of Regelence's younger sons, falls violently in love with him. As you do, obviously, when sent on a secret mission.
The ideas are interesting (yes they are, stop giggling at the back) but the book really needed a lighter touch than offered by Langley. It needed the SF-mixed-with-Regency equivalent of Georgette Heyer. She does well enough, though a little heavy handed, until faced with a sex scene, when suddenly Hawkins (he is generally the only one to speak during a sex scene) start spouting pure 21st Century Earth vulgarities. Way to break the fourth wall, there, Langley.
The problem with this book was that I wanted to be charmed - I was prepared to suspend my disbelief sufficient to hang my brain on a hook and be charmed, but in order to be charmed I needed a little more to go on.