Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: The Reluctant Husband
Author: Eliot Grayson
Series: Goddess-Blessed #2
Heroes: Tom & Mal
Genre: M/M Historical Fantasy
Length: 168 pages
Publisher: Smoking Teacup Books
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Is their marriage a blessing…or a curse?
Tom Drake wants nothing to do with his patron goddess. Her blessing has always been little more than a cruel curse. But when he finds himself disowned, disgraced, and on the verge of homelessness, he knows he can no longer afford to ignore her demands. He must marry. Sadly, his one marriage prospect is a pragmatic, stubborn man who only seems to value him for his blessing…and his body…
Mal Leighton will stop at nothing to save his beloved cousin’s life, even if it means marrying Tom—and using him for his blessing—to do it. Theirs would be a mutually beneficial marriage of convenience. Love was never part of the equation. He’ll just have to somehow learn to ignore his overwhelming attraction to his dangerously charming and seductive new husband.
As weeks pass, Tom and Mal find there’s often a fine line between love and desperation, passion and pride—and what exists between them is infinitely more complicated than their simple marriage of convenience was ever meant to be. Can they set aside their painful pasts and misconceptions to take a chance on the love match they never expected to find?
This is an M/M romance set in an alternate-universe Regency. It contains the ideal number of carriages, duels, and redeemed villains, but beware of pagan goddesses who like to micromanage. It is the second book in a series, but it can be read as a standalone. Tom’s previous dastardly deeds can be found in The Replacement Husband.
Okay, I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read this book because I honestly hated Tom at the end of the first book, The Replacement Husband. But when I started reading this one, I couldn’t help but feel bad for Tom because he’s at an all time low and literally has no one. It all makes sense, though, when we find out that Tom is blessed and no one ever knew. I really enjoyed seeing all the whys of Tom keeping that secret unfold because it really explained so much but we also get to understand Tom and his true feelings, not just what he shows the world. I really, really loved that because the Tom inside is very different from the Tom everyone else knows. As for Mal, I loved the bit of dominance in him and his pension for demanding things. Sometimes, he was a little cruel but so was Tom. Things don’t start off nice for them because they’re not in this marriage for love, it’s purely for Tom’s blessing to save Mal’s cousin, William. I adored the internal conflict with Mal and his desire for Tom but his guilt over William.
Side note, while technically you can read this as a standalone, I wouldn’t recommend it. Yes, you probably won’t hate Tom if you skip the first book but I feel like you need to know what Tom was like to really understand how and why he’s hit rock bottom and why he’s willing to marriage Mal.
While I really enjoyed this one, even more than book 1, I had a few issues. For one, I didn’t really understand why William’s heir was Marcus if everyone hated him so much. Add to that, while I really liked the push/pull between Mal and Tom, I felt like the story wasn’t focused on them. It was focused on Will and how Tom’s blessing could help Will but you don’t really get to see much of Tom and Mal getting to know each other. One moment they hate each other (or pretend to) and the next, they’re confessing their love and going to live happily ever after. I wanted to see more groveling, from both of them, and a little more depth to them forgiving each other because I can’t see a relationship lasting when it started like theirs without any time to heal from the damaged they both did to one another during the beginning of their marriage.
All in all, though, I really did love this one. I didn’t like Tom in The Replacement Husband and was hesitant to read this one because of him but after reading his story, I can see why he was so destructive and felt really bad for him but also grew to love him. I also enjoyed Mal as a character and enjoyed their journey. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series and seeing where things go from here!
Overall Impression: I really liked it!
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*