Reviewed by Heather C
Title: The Actor and the Earl
Author: Rebecca Cohen
Series: The Crofton Chronicles #1
Heroes: Sebastian Hewel/Anthony Redbourn (Lord Crofton)
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 216 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 9th, 2014 (2nd edition)
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Elizabethan actor Sebastian Hewel takes his bow at the proscenium only to embark on the role of a lifetime. When his twin sister, Bronwyn, reneges on the arrangement to marry Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, Sebastian reluctantly takes her place. At nineteen, Sebastian knows his days as a leading lady are numbered, but with this last performance, he hopes to restore his family’s name and pay off his late father’s debts. Never mind the danger of losing his head should he be discovered.
He didn’t expect Anthony to be so charming and alluring—not to mention shrewd. While he applauds Sebastian’s plan, Anthony offers a mutually beneficial arrangement instead. Sebastian will need every drop of talent he has to survive with both his head and his heart intact, because this is the best part he’s ever had.
A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.
The Actor and the Earl has been on my TBR list for years, but because of numerous mixed opinions of the story, I’ve held off reading it. I finally gave in and decided I needed to see for myself, and I must say, my OWN opinion is a little conflicted.
Nineteen year old Sebastian Hewel has almost reached the end of his run of playing the female lead in the London theatres. When his twin sister Bronwyn elopes, Sebastian and Anthony (Lord Crofton) come to a mutual agree to have Sebastian pretend to be Bronwyn and fill in the “real-life” role of his wife in order to pay off the Hewel family debt. Of course, Anthony has his own reasons for the fake marriage. It was only meant to last for a few years…and Sebastian’s heart was never meant to get involved…
I could NOT put this book down; stayed up LATE needing to finish it and got less than 3 hours of sleep on a work night!
I loved the idea of the crossdressing character: the hero playing the role of a female in public, and completely male in private. Even though it probably wasn’t very realistic that no one ever figured it out, it was still a fun concept.
I loved that homophobia was never an issue at all. Everyone that found out that Sebastian and Anthony were intimate had other reasons for disapproving, but not because they were both men. It was refreshing not having to deal with that whole issue.
For a while there was a disconnect in the passion between Anthony and Sebastian, of course it was all meant to be sexy fun in the beginning. So once there were obvious feelings involved, I was then more connected to the characters.
Anthony kept pissing me off! It seemed that every few pages he was having to ask for forgiveness over some screw up or another. It was fun seeing him groveling and the makeups were always sexy and intense. I just wanted him to suffer a little more.
I’m not sure if I can trust that Anthony will stay true to his commitment; I will just have to continue on with Anthony and Sebastian’s story in the sequel Duty to the Crown. Even though I’m not a huge fan of romances with established couples, I want to find out what happens next. I’m crossing my fingers that there will be scenes from Anthony’s POV!
I need to know more about Anthony. He wasn’t one to share! How was his relationship with his first wife? I know it wasn’t true love, but what was it? What does Anthony do for the queen? There are reasons for Anthony needing to marry “Bronwyn”, but the details were only briefly touched upon…and I want more!
Also, does Edward Fenson get his own story? I would love to read more about him.
Overall, its a fun story with a decent display of humor, romance and angst; but the characters might drive you crazy.
Overall Impression: I Really Liked It
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*