Seducing Stephen

stephen
Title: Seducing Stephen
Author:  Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Historical Romance (Victorian)
Length: 143  Pages
Rating:  4.25  out of 5

A guest review by Erastes

THE BLURB

What does a jaded earl see in a studious, shy man? Everything he never knew he was missing. Their first, scorching hot sessions were about passion, not love, but now Peter is desperate to win back the young man he spurned.

THE REVIEW

This book sort of took me by surprise.  First of all, the title doesn’t really fit the book–because I was expecting that it would be about…yanno…seducing Stephen, but considering that Stephen gives it up to the Earl on the first page, he didn’t exactly need seducing!  I thought that I was in for a good old sexy romp and not much else, but that’s where I was (happily) wrong, and slowly and surely an interesting and quite psychological little drama emerged from something looks at first glance to be filled with cliché and trope.

First lines are important – and this book has a great one.

“Gads, there’s a boy in my bed. It’s Christmas come early.”

The beginning is amusing and engaging and despite my forgivings I was drawn in, rather fascinated as to why the Earl expected a young man to be in his bed, or at least wasn’t at all surprised. This is soon explained!

As for a good old sexy romp–yes, we get that too.  There’s a large chunk of sex, specially at the beginning, but each sex scene has a part to play and marks the progress in the burgeoning affair between Stephen and Peter.  As the blurb already hints the affair starts as sex and then moves into more complicated territory and that’s the nice surprise; it could have easily have been nothing more than a sex-progression story, but for a small book it packs a lot more punch.  There’s a bit too much “hardening” every time one or the other of them sees the other, or looks at the other but I suppose these things do happen, but sometimes it smacks of satyriasis rather than anything erotic.

I loved the progression of the romance–and for me there was a touch of Dangerous Liaisons at one point, where one of the characters did something really hurtful (even though it was because he considered to be best for both of them.) Sadly, due to the length of the book, this really wasn’t given enough time to develop as much as I would have liked–but it worked pretty well but in this respect it should have been called “Educating Peter” to be honest.

Two of the most memorable characters are a couple that make a brief appearance; two delightful old queens, Foxworthy and Wainwright, who have been living together all their lives, in public view and daring the consequences.  I was so pleased to meet these characters because with gay historicals it’s more often the conflict that is the essence of the book–because a book must have conflict–and we forget all too often that some men were lucky enough to live together.

“Ah, to be young and in love.” Foxworthy chuckled. “I don’t envy you the ups and downs, Northrup, not even for the extra passion they engender.”

A little small talk and gossip later, Peter took his leave, noting the tenderness with which Timothy grasped Gilbert’s arm and helped him rise from his chair.

‘You may not envy me, you old codger, but I believe I envy you.’

On the con side – it badly needed a firm Brit Picking.  Many non-Brit readers will probably not care, but for those who like their English-set stories to feel English, be warned. Having Stephen’s “ass” pounded just brings up images of donkey mistreatment that I’d rather not have.   How can you tell if someone is comparing you to his rear end or his donkey if you don’t differentiate between arse and ass?  There are many other Americanisms, such as gotten, whiskey, to name but two and I can’t help it, I get jolted. There were a couple of instances of “bum” too – which always makes me laugh; it’s like someone heard the word on a show and thinks that what English people actually say. Please don’t use this word, unless your knight is asking you if his bum looks big in his armour. (not seriously.)

A few mistakes in the history/details too, “matriculation” doesn’t mean to graduate out of a university, as it’s used here.  The foxtrot didn’t exist pre 1914.  Little mistakes which again, a harsher editor would have ferreted out.

I would have preferred a more definite sense of time, too.  I knew it was probably Victorian (if only from the cover, as the Great Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament was built in 1859) and after the instigation of railways between London and Cambridge – but there was nothing in the story to ground me until Peter’s visit to Foxworthy and Wainwright.  That was the first mention of a date, and that was over half way through the book.

But all in all this book is far more than it seems, a little TARDIS of a novel, if you like.  Don’t be fooled by what it looks like at first glance.  There’s a really nice character-fuelled story here, and characters with real feelings, pride, idiocy –  people who make mistakes and say stupid things and regret them.  People who hurt each other for good reasons – and for reasons perhaps more selfish.

I’ll certainly be looking out for any future historicals these authors do, that’s for sure.

Author

Erastes is an author of gay historical fiction. Her novels cover many time periods and locations. She lives in Norfolk UK with demanding cats and never seems to have enough time to serve them.

10 comments

  • Hi Erastes
    Great review as usual. I’m so glad you like this book because now I’m looking forward to reading it.

    I recognize a few of the errors you mention especially matriculation, having been educated in the British system, but I would never been able to identify some of the other mistakes. I hesitated reading this book before because Bonnie Dee has been hit and miss for me.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Wave–It was another one of those books that I hestitated from reading because I had almost pre-decided I was going to dislike it, but I’m always delighted when I’m “seduced” by the story! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hihi yeah sometimes titles just don’t fit. It sounds good though! I’ll put it on the list!
    Thanks for the good review!

    Reply
  • I am looking forward to reading this. Way back when, in October 2008, there was a promotion and a book by Bonnie Dee was given away free for the Kindle (Perfecting Amanda). Even though it was m/f I read it and enjoyed it and thought then that I hoped the author would take a chance on a m/m historical. I am glad to see she has and I will add this to my TBR pile. Thanks for the review, Erastes.

    L

    Reply
  • I think you hit the nail on the head for a few of the nick-picky things about the story that made me pause or do a double take. I questioned the title, because like you, there was no seducing involved. At first, I really thought the story was from the early 19th century, Lord Byron’s era. But some of the clothing mentioned, trains, dances… I was a bit confused on exactly when we were reading about. Ah well, maybe a gentle nudge to the authors to research their history and not be quite so vague.

    *

    One part of the story that I really had difficulty with is when Stephen returns home. There were a few things that bothered me about it – both his mother and his father felt overblown stereotypical of the worst puritanical Victorians could be portrayed.

    *

    The romance between Peter and Stephen, though, greatly redeems the story of any of its little flaws. I love how Peter comes to realize he’s made a mistake in ‘tutoring’ Stephen to be like him since he really doesn’t like himself and the way he is. (and maybe I’d better stop now before I give the whole story away). Oh, and the scene on the lake (and in the lake/boat house) reminded me of a scene (not in) Maurice. But still had that lovely English idyllic quality to it.

    *

    Anyway, lovely review for a very nice story that’s more than what it might appear on the surface.

    Reply
    • The parents, yes, they weren’t great – and I would have actually preferred them to be more guilt-tripping than they actually were – more “well I am glad you realise your responsibilities” kind of thing even though he was doing it. The father’s volte face was a surprise, too. Would have been better to kill him off entirely! 🙂

      But a definite recommendation, all round, and I hope lots of people buy the book because it deserves it.

      Reply
      • Oh yes! YES! Please do buy, because we must encourage those authors who write well and tell a good story to continue to write well and tell a good story!

        *

        The parents: I was hoping for them to have more of a Dickens flare. A bit more struggle with doing his duty and being guilted into staying might have helped some as well.

        Reply

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: