The Blue Ribbon, by Katherine Marlowe
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: December 7th, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Theo Aylmer’s perfectly satisfactory life as a chemistry professor at Cambridge is upended when he receives word of his father’s illness. Forced to return to Cornwall, he is robbed for everything he’s worth by a dashing young highwayman. When he finally reaches his father’s stagecoach inn, he finds it dilapidated and the village around it groaning beneath the thumb of the hateful Earl of Glynn.
All Theo wants to do is return to his life and work in Cambridge, but as he tries to recoup the funds necessary to travel, he finds himself plagued by brandy-smugglers and rumours of ghosts. And at the center of all Theo’s problems is a certain handsome highwayman who has charmed his way into Theo’s bed and heart. When the highwayman turns up shot, Theo can’t turn him away, even though doing so risks bringing the wrath of the customs men, the law, and the Earl of Glynn upon them both.
This was a well written, intriguing historical romance that had an unlikely set of men brought together by an unfortunate event: the death of Theo’s father. Theo is really really cranky about coming back from Cambridge to take care of his father’s inn, but he falls into the arms of a hot dude and gets involved in a great mystery so it can’t be all bad right???
Is this 100% historically and culturally accurate? No. Does it stay true to the historical period in order to tell an intriguing story that includes a believable M/M romance? Yes. I think Marlowe does a good job of making things believable, while also acknowledging the realities of the time period.
This book also had a lot of great character development. Both MCs were likable and Marlowe showed how they changed throughout the book. It wasn’t like instant love now I’m a new person! Sure their relationship changed them, but they also shaped their relationship (with the help of some other stuff going on in the book). Their relationship and character development was very natural, and it made the book so much better for it.
I am always pleased when an author makes the secondary characters well developed and a central part of the plot, because that’s how life works. No couple is walking around with no friends/family/neighbors/coworkers in their lives. Sure some real life people are super boring. but most people are fully developed humans and not cardboard cutouts to help catalyze different parts of your life. It drives me crazy when authors do this, so I am glad this book didn’t get spoiled by this.
The only thing that made me really upset in the book was Theo leaving behind his chemistry and teaching career to go to the Inn. I was like nooooooooooo!!! I am a nerd and I love nerds, so I wanted him to be a Chemistry professor forever. It still makes me sad he had to leave his post. This sparks the whole adventure though so I guess I can’t be too sad (yes I can). This all happens in the very beginning of the book and is also described in the book summary, so it isn’t a spoiler!
If you like Robin Hood-esque type romances you’ll love this. It didn’t have the same or even a similar plot, but it was set in that time/England and has a similar vibe. Lots of shenanigans and intrigue combined with great characters.
Katherine “Kitty” Marlowe is a writer of m/m historical romance novels and novellas. She has a degree in Classical history with a specialization in LGBTQ history, and can very easily be distracted into lengthy discussions on marginalized orientations and gender identities in dozens of different historical eras and subcultures.
Find out more about Marlowe and her books over at http://katherinemarlowe.wordpress.com
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.