First Act (Crabbypatty’s Review)

Title: First Act
Author: Vanessa Mulberry
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 17, 2016
Genre(s): Historical
Page Count: 206
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

April 1594. William Moodie thinks he’s in love with celebrated actor Richard Brasyer. When Brasyer’s playing company, Goldfox’s Men, comes to town, William is only too willing to leave his country life for the opportunities of the theater and a life in London. Determined to become Richard’s apprentice, William seeks to impress his mentor with his acting—and please him in bed.

Meanwhile, Richard struggles to escape his past as a spy and disentangle himself from the manipulations of his former master and ex-lover, Bennett Goldfox. Swearing off a relationship with his new apprentice proves difficult for Richard, as William uses all his youthful charms to seduce him. When Bennett’s life is threatened, Richard is lured back into the game for one final mission, and he and William travel to Cambridge to hunt down a list of traitors to the Crown.

In the midst of danger and deception, Richard and William come to truly see each other, faults and all, and realize their feelings run deeper than either expected.

Young William leaves his country life in Oxford to become an apprentice to actor Richard Brayser in London, the London of Queen Bess and Shakespeare, circa 1594. William had fancied Richard from the moment he saw him on the stage and is determined he can make Richard love him. But soon William finds himself involved in plotting and scheming much more dangerous than a simple matter of seduction.

When reading the blurb, I was very intrigued by the premise. I’m a history nut (especially English history) and liked the setting of the story and the “bones” of its plot. However, for me the book did not live up to it potential. There is little chemistry between Richard and William, while the relationship between Bennett Goldfox and Richard seems much more interesting and believable. William in his callow youth does not measure up to Richard and Bennett’s long relationship of love, loathing, spying and intrigue and there is a certain indefinable something about the two that begs further investigation.

The pace of this story seemed very slow as William and Richard make plans that sound interesting, but

most of the intrigue can be summed up as William and Richard go to Cambridge to get a list and return to London to give it to Bennett. That’s it. Bennett isn’t sure if it’s even the list he is looking for and there is a lot of talk about spies but nothing really happens.
There is a hurried HEA ending that felt unsatisfying. If you like the time period, give the book a try, but I cannot recommend it.

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Galley copy of First Act provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader