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. Carlisle is 20 years older than Brendan, and May to December in my eyes needs to be a lot more than that! - and Carlisle isn't GFY, he's bisexual. (If we are going to define things by today's terms, whereas I rather think he just loves souls, rather than plumbing.)
Anyone who loves Georgette Heyer will enjoy this hugely. If you already love Lee's nautical stories, this is a sure fire winner, but if you've shied away from reading the nautical stories because boats don't float your boat, then give this a try--because it's a winner.
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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.
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.
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.