The Soldier’s Scoundrel, by Cat Sebastian
Publisher: Avon Impulse (HarperCollins)
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A scoundrel who lives in the shadows
Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London’s slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.
A soldier untarnished by vice
After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman’s life-one that doesn’t include sparring with a ne’er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack’s pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they’re together.
Two men only meant for each other
Paragon of Virtue/Charming Rogue
Mentions of past/off-page abuse
Jack Turner is your typical ne’er-do-well – a bit of a rogue and purposefully unrefined, willingly amoral and definitely not a gentleman, but he’s also kind, occasionally selfless and absolutely not the unworthy scoundrel he believes himself to be. Oliver Rivington represents the finest attributes nobility and breeding can offer, bursting with noblesse oblige and as golden-good as his bright yellow hair… and is one of the loneliest men in England. Will these two opposites attract enough to realise how much they not only need each other, but deserve them too? I think we all know the answer is a resounding YES, but in typical romance fashion we figure that out long before these charmingly oblivious boys do. 😉
I was initially disinclined to read this as ‘shirtless muscled man’, while obviously popular for cover art usually doesn’t hold my interest, but when I saw it was published by Avon (and with the same ‘This is a romance novel’ font as the rest of their titles), I realised it was actually a very traditional historical romance cover, except instead of a maiden swooning into her lover’s arms it has two men instead. And that casual use of known tropes is fantastic; I don’t know if this is the first m/m title from Avon or just the first I’ve noticed, but I’m pleased to see them offering ‘niche’ romance as if it were no different from their regular titles like this.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this book, from cheeky banter to the inclusion of women in the narrative, especially making the realities of female life a driving force for the action. It was a nice surprise to find a mystery as the central focus of the plot, which wasn’t indicated at all from the synopsis. While the mystery itself isn’t complicated, I was certainly kept in suspense wondering not only who the perpetrator was but their motives as well, which I’m sure the author will be chuffed to know I didn’t guess until almost the final reveal. I don’t have PTSD but I do have several anxiety disorders that share similar symptoms, and the depiction of Rivington’s emotional and sensory experiences and disassociation felt real and familiar to me. I did think the book was a tad over-long, and possibly could have included more socio-political awareness for the period, but I’m certainly not going to hold that against this admittedly sweet (yes, it is!) and sexy romance.
This is an impressive debut that has been rightly popular with bookbloggers since its publication a little over a fortnight ago, and I look forward to reading the sequel next year!
Cat writes steamy, upbeat historical romances. They usually take place in the Regency, generally have at least one LGBTQ+ main character, and always have happy endings.
Before writing, Cat was a lawyer and a teacher. She enjoys crossword puzzles, geeking out over birds, gardening badly, and–of course–reading. In high school, her parents went away for a week, and instead of throwing raucous parties, Cat read Middlemarch. Even worse, Cat remembers little of a trip through Europe because she was busy reading Mansfield Park. Her proudest moment was when she realized her kids were shaping up to be hopeless bookworms too. Currently, her favorite genres are romance, mystery and fantasy.
Cat lives with her husband, three kids, and dog in an improbably small house. After growing up in the northeast, she now lives in a part of the south where every body of water seems to contain alligators or sharks, and every restaurant serves biscuits and gravy. She likes the biscuits, but not so much the alligators.
Find her online at: https://catsebastian.com/