I guess I’m a bit lucky coming to this book as a reader who doesn’t have a lot of experience with “Regency” romances. To me, this is merely an unexpected romance set in an historical era, so I was a lot more forgiving of aspects of the plot that seemed to bother other readers based on the reviews that I skimmed. This is the story of a shared quest that brings two very different men together, and I was happily along for the ride.
The race and class issues explored in this book were a fascinating development, and lest the cover deceive you, Sam Fox is a working-class man through and through, with an interesting backstory to match Hartley Sedgwick’s. But this isn’t a story of a working-class man and a gentleman making a relationship work, because Hartley certainly isn’t gentry either! A bit of a quibble is that Sam seems too perfect to be real at pretty much all times (even though that didn’t stop me from falling for him myself). It seems like only Hartley gets to make mistakes, but at least most of those mistakes stem from the anxiety and significant PTSD issues he has.
Rather than a major interpersonal conflict that brings the men together in the end, it’s more a completely unexpected plot twist. But wait — isn’t this supposed to be a romance? Perhaps that’s what made me love this book all the more. It doesn’t follow the expected trajectory of a romance story, but instead is a great evolving relationship + found family + character development tale.
If you’re looking for a “traditional” Regency romance, there’s nothing here for you. But if you’re looking for interesting characters (including secondary characters) and a sweetly unexpected ending, this is definitely a book in which to lose yourself.