Reviewed by Morgan
Title: A Gentleman’s Agreement
Author: J. Roman
Narrator: Paul Morey
Heroes: Thomas Derrick Henry Appleby
Genre: MM Historical
Length: Book – 100 Pages / Audio – 2 Hours, 24 Minutes
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: Book – December 1, 2012 / Audio – October 22, 2014
Available at: Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Audible and iTunes
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Thomas Derrik is about to have the worst Christmas of his life. Three days before the holiday, he finds out the father he doesn’t get along with is arriving on Christmas Eve, his ex-lover and new brother-in-law will be staying at his estate until the New Year, and his beloved brother, Edmund, has died.
Luckily, Edmund’s last holiday scheme may well save Thomas’s Christmas: Henry Appleby, a young lord fresh from the Continent, has arranged to court Thomas. But the family tragedy and jealous exes may put an end to the romance before it begins.
Review – Book: Things look bad for Thomas this year. His brother, Edmund, is dead. His sister married his lover and they are expecting a baby. His father expects him to marry someone of “peerage” to further the family line, but Thomas is gay.
Thomas’ father and Edmund, knowing Thomas is gay, have concocted a scheme to accommodate that. They agreed to arrange a marriage with a woman who “needs” a husband, but who doesn’t want one. She does, however have a brother who is gay, so it’s kind of like an arranged, yet secret, lover.
That’s the plan. In Regency England.
But wait. It gets better.
Edmund isn’t really dead! He is secretly married – yes married – to a Russian Prince (or something) who is willing to masquerade as a valet to be in a relationship with Edmund in England.
But wait. There’s more.
Thomas had a lover before all of this arranged marriage stuff. Lord Darrow. Darrow married Thomas’ sister but he still wants Thomas even though they broke up. (Or whatever you do in the case where your ex-lover is now your brother-in-law.) Darrow is determined to keep Thomas so he tries to keep Henry away by ordering a servant to seduce Henry in front of Thomas.
Jonah, the manservant, was crushed when he found out Edmund was dead, because he’s in love with Edmund. Now that Edmund is back and in love with the Russian, Jonah is crushed again and wants to leave the estate.
But…Thomas and Henry fall in love (over the course of 24 hours) and have a secret… Ok, it’s secret, so I’ll let you discover that on your own. Needless to say, they end up with a bizarre HEA where Henry’s sister is pregnant. It’s never explained how this happens, but she is. And Thomas’ sister and Darrow are now a loving family. And Henry and Thomas are together but they don’t sleep in the same bed.
Ok, I can’t really even properly summarize this story, because it makes no damn sense. In order to buy into this, you have to completely ignore history and just accept that this is a made up world that takes place in what feels like Regency England. Every other person is gay and yet that is sort of accepted but not, and in some countries you can get married but in others not.
The concept was great. Cute idea. Get two gay guys together with a wife as a beard through an arranged marriage. Though bizarre, there are worse arranged marriage stories out there. However, the execution failed. When I was listening to this, my first thought was – oh man. I wish I was reading this, because it’s so confusing. Second, I thought – this reminds me of those old Harlequin novels with the white covers and the swooning women with titles like “Seduced by her Brother’s Duke”. It had no logical plot plan. There were subplots and characters coming out of the woodwork with no real purpose and no real meaning. The main characters spent very little time together, and in no way did I feel they could possibly fall in love. Yet, they confess their love way before the last page.
Sure, I get the insta-love thing. But in this case, they weren’t even around each other enough for that unless one of them is a werewolf! Then you add in the Russian husband, and the dead but not dead brother, and the valet who was in love with him… What? So confusing. This is 100 pages, and though in the right hands all that might have worked, it did not work here.
I really wanted to love this. Usually by the time a book makes it to audio it has been “screened” at least by the market (I’ve been told audio books are made strictly based on sales) so someone (lots of someones) liked this book enough to buy it and then Dreamspinner made it an audiobook, but…like I said. Maybe if I had read it, some of this would not feel so confusing because I could flip back and forth… or not.
Anyhow, I cannot recommend this book and give it 2 out of 5 stars, those for the idea and the effort.
Review – Audio: I really like Paul Morey, and in fact, was interested in this audiobook because I knew I would enjoy the narration (at least,) because he always delivers solid performances. And he did. But… he was not the right choice for this story. It needed someone with a British accent or a very crisp and starchy sounding voice. Paul sounds too contemporary and loose in his speech. It just didn’t match.
So – not Paul’s fault. I give the narration a 3.5 of 5 because he did a great job with what he was given but he just wasn’t the right choice for this type of story.
Overall a 2.75 of 5 stars.
Maybe it’s a better book to read, but definitely not worth the listen.
Overall Impression: It was okay, but not good
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*