Author: Megan Derr
Length: 10,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m historical (Regency) romance
Called to the be the second to a young, rash duelest, Alexis seeks out the appointed second of the challenger. But the man he expects is not the man he encounters, and Alexis finds himself thinking of things vastly more interesting than settling challenges put forth by hot-headed young men, things that heat his own blood and which he thought well in his past…
This story is set in the same world as the Deceived series, and although I haven’t read any of those books, I didn’t find it a problem here, except for one aspect. I thought this was going to be a historical romance set in the Regency era, but it reads more like an AU Regency where being gay isn’t a crime and is instead accepted by society. It took me a few pages to realise this but once I did, I settled into the story.
The book begins with Alexis who has to call on an Earl, Haven, to settle a duel dispute between a family member, Henry, and a good friend of the Earl, Otis, who has named Haven as his second. Haven has recently returned from East Asia after his father named him, a bastard son, the heir. Since then he has struggled a little with society’s conventions but enjoys Alexis’ visit enough to hope they may become friends.
The parts of the story which worked for me was in the character of Haven whose frustrations at not quite fitting in with society, plus a good heart when it comes to his friend Otis, endeared me to him. Out of the pair he is the most rounded and I liked him. We are given lots of information about his time spent in the East and his feelings now he is an Earl and this helped to build a solid picture of Haven. Alexis spends quite a lot of time with his friends, who feature in previous books in the series. Whilst this showed him to be someone who valued friendship, he comes across as a little surly. There wasn’t enough space in the story to delve in detail with his past and so we are only fed snippets of what makes him as a character so I didn’t warm to him as well.
The story is lively and fun, the sort of thing I have come to expect from this author. The sub-plot involving the young duelling men was handled deftly and was amusing, especially in the final scene. I expect we shall see more of those two young men in future stories.
Overall, this was a lighthearted read and I enjoyed it, but didn’t like Alexis as much as I wanted to and so the romance fell a little flat at the end. The closing pages may have been satisfactory, but Alexis’ inconsistent behaviour towards Haven deserved a little more grovelling on his part, I felt. However, if you like this series then this free story will be to your taste. As for me, it whetted my appetite for the other books in the series which I shall be reading soon.