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Tangled Web (M/M Romance) [Paperback]

Lee Rowan
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Nov 2009 M/M Romance
Brendan Townsend is a young man who is very loyal to his friends. So when his best friend, occasional lover, and complete screw-up Tony comes to him in trouble, Brendan is determined to help. Seems Tony is being blackmailed by the owner of the 'molly house', a private club that Tony - and other like-minded gentlemen-frequent in order to indulge their entertainment needs. While the proprietor is ostensibly doing them a favour, he's now seen a way to make easy money off his patrons. Tony's father is desperate for his son to marry into Society and will no doubt pay any fee. Then disown his son. Brendan is disappointed in his friend, but goes to seek the help of his older brother's military commander. Philip Carlisle is a gentleman to Society, but also a man Brendan's brother trusted completely and told his younger brother to seek out if he ever was in trouble. Philip is a 40-year-old widower, and finds himself charmed, for the first time, by an attractive young man. Brendan is likewise besotted with hero-worship, especially when Philip turns the tables on the blackmailer and saves the day for many of Society's closeted sons. What follows is a tale of desire, regrets, cross-country pursuit, hidden identities, lovers torn asunder then reunited, clever cover stories, and the requisite pistols at dawn.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Running Press (12 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762436840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762436842
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 763,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Lee Rowan had written 6 M/M Romances. She lives in Canada.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real regency delight 23 Mar 2010
By Erastes
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I absolutely loved this, from beginning to end, as my previous posts have indicated. Brendan Townsend is a slightly naive 23 year old who has been entangled with a fellow from his university - whilst in college the relationship has been slightly circumspect and Brendan didn't realise how rash and indiscreet his friend and lover was, but once they move into rooms together, Tony's full "ungentlemany" behaviour comes to light when he rashly takes part in a publicly viewed sex act in a Molly House. Brendan seeks advice from his elder brother, and then is referred to Major Carlisle, his brother's superior officer in the Peninsular War. Brendan then realises that his boyhood infatuation with Tony is nothing compared with the true love he begins to feel for Philip Carlisle.

This is probably the truest "Regency Romance" I've read in the M/M genre since I started out - Lee's expertly light touch is perfect for the wit and the style of the era. You would never guess that the writer wasn't English to the core, and that's the biggest compliment I can give it. The inborn sense of Class within the book seems like it could only be written by someone raised in a class-fuelled society. Brendan's (and others) inherent snobbery about Tony's background as the son of a Merchant is nicely explored, and that sense of "Well, you can't expect anything more from a man of his type" is ingrained throughout, even echoed by other merchants, who consider Tony to be "jumped up" and "nouveau riche". The research regarding smuggling and the sections involving the horses were so impressive, and I learned a lot, which I don't often end up saying in this period!

I've seen this described as a "gay for you" and a "May and December" - but in fact it's neither.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Left me happy and wanting more! 8 April 2010
I bought this title on the strength of having enjoyed Alex Beecroft's False Colours in the same series, and although the two books were very different, I wasn't disappointed. Rowan's tale details the growing attraction between the young Brendan Townsend and the older Philip Carlisle, set against a backdrop of blackmail and smuggling in Regency London and the surrounding countryside.

Interestingly, for a book that begins with a scene of public sex in an upper class Molly house and deals with the criminal underbelly of Regency life, this novel is rather sweet and innocent - or at least, Brendan is. He seems genuinely bewildered by the sorry state of affairs his one-time lover has gotten himself into, and it is his petition to Philip for help that leads him to the true romance of his life.

This is not one of those m/m romances with a torrid sex scene every chapter, but rather a character study, where the sexual tension is allowed to simmer for quite a while as the plot plays out. The author, who I was surprised to learn is American, has a perfect grasp of Austen-like dialogue, and can gently poke fun at the foibles of society in this era without ever seeming condescending. Indeed, the only thing that struck a wrong note with me was the mention of early daffodils in April, which I would think of as main daffodil season!

All in all, a gripping story with a touching romance, and the closest thing to a "happy ever after" you are likely to find in the historical m/m romance genre. It left me with a very satisfied smile, and a desire to read more by Lee Rowan - as well as the remaining two books in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tangled Web Lee Rowan's Best to Date 15 Jan 2010
I have purchased all of Lee Rowan's 'Age of Sail' series, but Tangled Web set in London and the English countryside, is in my opinion, is far and away her best offering. Beautifully written and well researched, this tale of blackmail, love and friendship unfolds at a cracking pace. Both the lead characters, Brendan and Tom, are likeable, engaging and plausible. The length of the book was just write, although no good is ever long enough, and Tangled Web certainly left me wanting more.

This is an m/m version of an Austen or Georgette Heyer book that I would love to see televised!! Rowan's knowledge of gay life in the early 1800's , with its molly houses, need for secrecy and of course the the legal implications, make this an exciting read and realistic. Kudos too for the enlightening back story on Free Traders and smugglers. No silly 'Ok Homo' moments with friends/relatives suddenly accepting what would have been considered an illegal and unacceptable at the time, although Brendan's fiesty sister Elspeth might have made a great confidant. Tom and Brendan's hesitant romance is entirely believeable. Both Dobson and Tony made great hissable 'baddies'. The sex scenes are tasteful and not overdone.

Again top marks for a wonderful cover. Not a bare torso in sight. Finally, the ending left me with a good feeling, and a wish to see how their relationship would evolve over the years given their age difference and the need for discretion in a less tolerant time. This is Rowan's most consistent and satisfying tale. Sequel? Yes please. Highly recommmended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If Jane Austen had written m/m 13 Jan 2010
I think she would have written something like this. In my opinion this is far and away Lee Rowan's best book yet, and that's even including her award winner, Ransom. This has everything that I love in a romance and in a historical novel - wonderful period detail, two complex, likable and honorable protagonists, lots of story, both action orientated (blackmail, smugglers) and more on a level of domestic problems (the plans and worries of Brendan's family, which he, as an affectionate and goodhearted young man, attempts to help solve.

The love between Brendan and Philip was palpable, to me, and all the more affecting because it had to be expressed in such a restrained way. I fell in love with Philip myself, after having seen him through Brendan's eyes :) And the genuine caring and happiness I got from this couple made the few, tasteful sex scenes golden with love. Gorgeous!

The comparison with Austen is because Lee Rowan is a writer of a similar sort. Not a producer of overwrought melodrama like Wuthering Heights, but a cooler, more delicate, elegant and restrained writer. And she produces characters with good brains and morals to go with their passionate hearts. Philip is far more a Darcy than a Heathcliff, and to me that is a very very good thing.

Lots of story, wonderful characters, and lots of love mean that out of the four RP books, this was the one that most left me with that 'happy ever after' glow.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Convincing, well crafted, wonderful setting and dialogue. 25 Dec 2009
By R.Parklane - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Set in regency London, this latest from Lee Rowen is quality writing, her characters credible and convincingly reflect the time. It starts off a bit slow but I am soon captivated by Brendan's story as his desire to help an ex-lover out of decency sets him on a course towards his destiny. A reviewer seems to have a problem with Brendan's love being an older hunk. What's wrong with that ? Brendan is only 22 even if mature for his age. Being the 3rd son of a Viscount, he has nothing to his name. The only way for this regency romance to work without the dreaded tragic ending is for a rich older lover who could give the protection they need from a society which would sooner see the lovers hang for their love. The regency setting is richly depicted and I enjoy the wonderful dialogue among the characters. Reminds me of a Georgette Heyer romance but this time the spunky heroine is the young hero who is not afraid to strive for his own happiness. And when these two finally get together their love is tender and the sex loving and sensual. Brendan does remind me of Dave from Ransom as he is the more courageous in the matter of the heart. On the other hand who could blame Philip for his initial rejection of his young lover as he is just acting sensibly. A delightful romance with exciting and humorous moments, this is a must for those of us into regency romance.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than most 16 Dec 2009
By Domus - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The plot develops a bit slowly, but it does so with grace and sensitivity to Regency England. One of the blessings is that it is not burdened with countless episodes of sex. Some m/m books are nothing more than virtually plotless pornography. If that is your thing, go for it, but if you hope for a story, romance laced in, thoughtful character development,then this should do the trick. I think this volume shows some maturity in Rowen's work. Once again, however, the senior hero has a big cock. God forbid that either of them should have teeny cocks. Oh, well. Cannot have everything.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down 14 Dec 2009
By Bogey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lee Rowan has done it yet again. "Tangled Web" is well researched and is well played out. I just could not put it down. From the beginning to the end, the passion, the suspense, and the betrayal were so well woven together to comprise her best book yet.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but I found the romance a little disappointing 8 Jun 2010
By Charly T. Anchor - Published on Amazon.com
Warning: This review might contain what some people consider SPOILERS.

Rating: 8/10

- I love Regency romances. (Love, love, love.) And this is a very well-written Regency romance. Rowan's writing is top-notch: her turn-of-phrase is concise and slick and often, in my opinion, just perfect for the situation.
- The dialog is exceptional. In very few instances was I brought out of the story because one of the characters said something that seemed out of character or inconsistent with the setting.
- The two heroes are (as one would expect) quite heroic. They are true paragons, both of them, of male beauty and respectability: proper, valiant, and chivalrous--but appropriately unruly in bed, of course.
- Rowan weaves 2 plotlines together fairly well (or 3, if you count the romance separately), so that the book is pleasantly exciting throughout.

- I was just a bit disappointed by the romantic element. I couldn't make myself truly believe in the strength of the two men's attachment. Brendan's worship of Philip made perfect sense to me and was quite convincing, but I wanted more from Philip. He is utterly restrained and refined, and I understand that, but even in his unvoiced thoughts I saw little more than an appreciation for Brendan's propriety and physical attractiveness. It also bothered me more than a little that Philip repeatedly refers to Brendan as "a brave lad" and "my dear boy" and other descriptors that bring constant attention to Brendan's youth.
- Philip's decision to give in to Brendan's seduction occurred rather suddenly for me. Just 25 pages before Philip first admits to wanting Brendan sexually, Philip is still "hoping that such an agreeable young man was not...engaging in activity that was roundly condemned by the Churches of both England and Rome."

Overall comments: I think this book is good: it captures not only the gallantry of early 19th century English society, but also its seedy corruption. I simply found the relationship a bit lacking emotionally.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an enjoyable read, well told 26 April 2010
By Zoltan Carnovasch - Published on Amazon.com
Gay romance in English is a genre I've discovered only recently, and it seems that in the last few years there have been a lot of marvellous publications getting out. "Tangled Web" actually seemed unattractive to me at first because the cover with two very stiff and somewhat bloodless looking models didn't grab me. But the story of a lonely and desperate young gay man in Regency London who becomes entangled in a blackmail scheme concering his brainless gay friend Tony is grippingly told from the very first page. The protagonist, Brendan, consults a former military commander and slowly romance starts to build up between the two. The story is not very erotic, which is why I don't give the book five stars, although I'm not interested in mere pornography, but even the few sex scenes just aren't sparking. On the other hand, the romance is very well handled, sensitive but also sensible, and the inner battles of the main characters are quite well developed.
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