Sebastian Lewis never expected to become a duke. But with the sudden deaths of his cousin and uncle, Sebastian's position changes. He is determined to fulfill his new responsibilities with grace, even if it means remarrying, and even if the attractions of women, so often lauded by poets, fail to interest him.
Captain William Carlisle, newly returned from India, is elated when he meets Sebastian. Nobody knows of his inclinations, but his harrowing experiences in battle have prompted him to reach for the type of companionship he longs for. He thinks Sebastian might feel an attraction as well, but to his dismay, he discovers that Sebastian is courting his sister, Dorothea.
After a semi-arranged engagement and a disconcerting romantic tangle with William, Sebastian escapes London to look after his manor, only to face mysterious thefts, a headless ghost, and the arrival of his fiancée, her brother, and his family. Sebastian's new estate sits on the south coast, England's most vulnerable location, and Napoleon has set his sights on conquering the area. Amid this growing turmoil, Sebastian must sort out his feelings for his fiancée's brother and keep his home safe...and determine if he has the courage to reach for his own happiness in the process.
This is a gay regency historical romance.
©2014 Alexandra Ainsworth (P)2016 Alexandra Ainsworth
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"A new favorite for sure!"
I think I would. Joel Leslie's performance is pretty wonderful. He voices Sebastian wish such tenderness and William's low Northern brogue was so sexy. I really loved this story - I haven't come across many Regency Romances in the m/m genre and this wonderful novel combines the with such charm and real heart.
It's definitely got that wonderful Jane Austen charm and sense of societal sweep. I loved how sensitive the author was to the reality of social taboos the characters would face, and used it as a totally convincing argument to their ability to openly communicate. It inherently provided that wonderful 'unspoken longing' that is such a common element in Regency Romance. The characters' struggle for the courage to face their true love was heart wrenching and really had me totally engaged. I kept thinking it would make a fabulous movie.
I thought William's voice was pretty delicious. But I also really loved all the range and variety he gave to the characters. Leslie is a really strong narrator - great storyteller and really draws the reader into the world. All the accents are wonderful.
I really loved it. I was very impressed with this author who was totally new to me. I will definitely read the rest of the Scandal in Sussex series.
The book also contains a mystery storyline which I thought was a really nice touch to give a fresh feel to the 'love at first sight' formula. I really felt this book was a beautiful homage to those BBC costume dramas that sweep you off your feet - and the fact that it's a m/m romance is icing on the cake.
"M/M Romance at it's BEST"
I just adored the fact that this combined two of my favorite things... Jane Austin style Regency Romance with m/m characters. The plot was engaging with elements of mystery and thriller coupled with costume drama wit, charm and two leading characters who were beautifully crafted. The narration was wonderful - warm, sexy and he brought real sensitivity and sensuality to the characters' internal passion and struggles. Not only one of my favorite m/m romances that I've come across... but it was also one my favorite modern Regency tales. I hope that Ainsworth gives a whole lot more in the future.
Sebastian is a young man who, due to the death of a cousin, suddenly finds himself in the unexpected position of becoming a Duke. He is determined to be a credit to the family name, and do honor to the position... Of paramount importance is finding a suitable match despite his puzzling lack of passion for the opposite sex. He is inexplicably drawn to the dashing brother of his suggested betrothed... a strapping Northern soldier recently returned from service. Sebastian is a really lovely character... he is filled with confusion and angst about this own desires and shameful passions...coupled with a overwhelming wish to do justice to the title to which he has suddenly been granted. He could easily become an aggravating character - but I adored him. The HEA is a given - but crafted in a very clever way that doesn't ignore the real social challenges of the time.
I've listened to some of his American stuff - and I was astounded that this was the same actor... the versatility is pretty extraordinary. I couldn't believe it was the same guy. I was totally drawn into the story... it was totally performed, not just 'read'.
Yes - I have to say I was expecting it to be formulaic and just a sort of typical bodice-ripper with genders swapped... it wasn't that at all. I loved the Aunt - she did make me laugh - but I won't get into spoilers. :)
If you like Jane Austin and m/m romance - this is going to be one of your new favorites.
"Smoldering and Sexy Historical Hotties."
I thought the writing was really strong, the characters worthy of rooting for and the performance very skillful.. I would rate it high up on my list of favorite listens.
Of all the modern regency romances that I've read (I really enjoy them) I think this is one my favorite. I was very surprised how well the author created a believable m/m romance within this world... The characters are vulnerable and complex. It stole my heart... a perfect pick me up for no more Downton lol.
No spoilers but the final scene where the Aunt appears was pure gold. And the performance of it was hilarious.
William - I could listen to that accent all day!
Sweet, sexy and smart... Give me more!
"Frock Coats and Hot Blokes. Hurray!"
Thrilled with this one. Wonderful characters and performed with warmth and great variety. If you've ever wanted Sense and Sensibility mashed up with Brokeback Mountain - this is it. The m/m spin on regency is new to me and I adored it. I also liked that this was a fairly clean romance... a little bit of sex...but done with a modesty and class that felt appropriate to the period. Definitely recommended to anyone who likes their m/m romance focused on plot and enjoys the historical genre. Sometimes Sebastian was a little aggravating with all his back and forth 'denial'... but since that's the title of the book, I guess I was forewarned lol... and it all wraps up into a truly heartwarming HEA.
"Wonderful M/M Regency Romance"
Delightful, Interesting, Daring
William - He was wonderful, caring, tender and yet so very strong.
The first one when Sebastian's hat flies away and he meets William.
It made me smile. I have to say that the narration made the story come to life for me. I had read the book before.
I loved this story and the narration of it. A good love story works no matter who the characters are that fall in love. This was my first audiobook and I am now hooked on the idea of having more in the future! Thank you to the author for the gift of this audiobook.
"Great performance and good story"
I really enjoyed this regency mm romance. It was kind of like Pride and Prejudice with a mystery woven into story. Sebastian, a minor noble, is suddenly thrust into the role of a Duke due the unexpected deaths the of his distant male relations. He is a widower who has also lost his only son. He is in deep denial about his attraction to other men and this becomes a source of annoyance throughout the book for me. He continuously berates himself for his nature, especially after he gives into it, and just runs hot and cold throughout the story until he is forced to confront it. Now William is not exactly "out and proud" considering he could be executed for being gay, but he has come to terms with who he is. Unlike Sebastian, who is continuously "trying to do the right thing and marry" William steadfastly refuses to even entertain the notion of marrying a woman. He has made the British military his career. There is a lot of angst, some tender moments, some "what a bitch" moments with William's sister, and a crime mystery woven into the story.
Joel Leslie once again knocks it out of the park with his performance. I swear, I lost count of the various voices and characterizations. His British accents are spot on in all their variations. From a cockney ruffian to the very upper class Duke. He does a great job on the male and female voices; Aunt Beatrice sound exactly like that woman in Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson.
Overall, a very good listen.
"Gay Regency Extravaganza"
This is a regency gay romance, the period is well drawn, with a really likable cast of characters and a romance I was rooting for very quickly. Within a short time the lead characters had won me over to really liking them and I listened intently to find out what would happen next. There's another book in the series focusing on another couple coming out soon, and I look forward to returning to the beautiful world in this story.
"Pecs and Pecadillos - LOVED IT."
Heart fluttering and fabulous this is a serious cut above most of the historical bodice-ripper romances out there PLUS it's an awesome m/m tale to top it off. The writing is warm, witty and full of charm... giving a lovely sense of period without ever sounding didactic in it's detail. I loved the main characters - a dashing wounded soldier, William, home from the war who, in the face of death, vowed no longer to deny his true nature. Sebastian is a Yorkshire nobleman who suddenly has the title of Duke unexpectedly land in his lap. When Sebastian, eager to fulfill his expected societal duties, is matched up with William's sister their flirtatious acquaintance suddenly sets sparks flying.
I found the two heroes wonderfully engaging and was drawn in by their different emotional journeys and heartbreaking inability to communicate and realize their mutual passion.
It has that unmistakeable Jane Austin feel in all the best ways... unspoken desires, ballgowns and breeches, wonderful supporting characters. There is also a marvelously oily villain and an engaging mystery that helps keep the 'boy meets boy' from ever seeming formulaic. The writing is also mostly clean - certainly romance versus erotica and the focus is all on the characters and plot.
I was very impressed with Ainsworth's writing and thought the narration was excellent. Great variety - I really enjoyed the regional specificity that gave a true sense of class and various locales. I will eagerly look for more from both the writer and narrator.
"Amazing story and pitch perfect narration."
This story was heartfelt and romantic. The narrator not only captured the spirit of the characters but enhanced the narrative with his spot on performance.
More of a DNF, since I skipped half the book and did not really care how Sebastian and William got their HEA. Despite my fondness for the specific era, this book did not work for me.
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