Author: Joanna Chambers
Series: Enlightenment #4
Genre: M/M Regency Romance
Available: Nov 24th
Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.
Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.
James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.
In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.
Source: ARC from Samhain Publishing via NetGalley
I enjoyed this Regency M/M historical, with its beautiful setting and tormented love story. Normally I’m not a big fan of flashbacks, but in this case the flashbacks were integral to the plot. In fact, without them this story would have been rather thin and boring.
I loved James. Sweet, scholarly James who doesn’t dissembled his feelings and doesn’t much care for anything beyond his insects. He’s sweet and charming and lovely – and at times I really hated Iain for the way he treats him. Because James has always been in love with Iain and hasn’t ever been afraid to show it. He’s not flamboyant or too obvious about it, he’s just quietly devoted and adorable.
Iain, soldier and sportsman though he is, is afraid. He’s spent his life trying to live up to his horrible father’s expectations, trying to live the life of his deceased older brother, while behaving in as manly a way as possible to hide his preference for men. He’s charming and urbane and a friend to many, but he’s also secretive and ashamed of his feelings. He never spends time with the same man twice, and though he knows James has feelings for him, he values his friendship too highly to spoil it.
Except when they do go further and Iain lashes out in fear. Thanks to the flashbacks we find that he does this time and again, and poor James is left bewildered and hurt, until he severs all connection entirely. Except Iain isn’t happy with that, because he can’t let James go. Which leads to more doubts and hurt and confusion and tension.
At its heart this is a simple story, there are no pyrotechnics, no real villains and lots of tortured feelings on Iain’s behalf. It’s quiet, has sweet moments and smatterings of heat. I’m still not completely certain that Iain deserves to be with James, but it is easy to see how Iain came to behave as he did. However, towards the end his constant doubts do get a bit wearying and I found myself wishing for more action in the “Now” sections, rather than having to wait for the “Then” bits to catch up.
Overall I enjoyed it. It’s an easy read, has a lovely Regency feel and doesn’t demand too much of the reader. This is my first taste of Joanna Chamber’s work, but I’m intrigued enough to want to read more – especially if Kit Redford is involved.
Unnatural is out November 24th!
Visit Joanna Chambers for more details.