Title: The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple
Author: K.A. Merikan
Publisher: self published
Release Date: 7th Feb, 2017
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Reviewed by: PIU
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?”
“One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”
Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.
Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.
No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.
When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.
Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.
But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.
This is my first historical m/m book by this author duo and I loved it. The main challenge in historical m/m romances are the authenticity of the setting as well as developing and nurturing a m/m relationship in the middle of a community hostile towards ‘gay’ individuals and this book passed with flying colors on both count. The whole rustic setting of the “Tredele” estate, the excitement/rush of being a highwayman and last but not the least the consuming “romantic anticipation” were all on point here. I really enjoyed this historical read very much.
Julian Reece is the youngest son of a rich cloth merchant and aspires to be a writer and one day go to Italy. He spends most of his time drinking and whoring around. His family wants him to be useful and get married to a girl who is merely 15 but Julian is totally against it because then it will mean the end of his dreams of becoming a writer someday.
Julian has no way to get out of the marriage until his carriage is stopped by a highwayman on its way to London. Julian sees his opportunity to escape and grasps it. He strikes a deal with the roughish highwayman but little does he know that his life is going to change completely.
Sir Evan Penhart is the last surviving heir to the centuries-old, grand but crumbling “Tredele” estate as well as the “Penhart” name. Evan’s family fortune has been gambled away by his deceased older brother and now he barely scrapes by with the bare minimum income the estate generates. Out of utter desperation he decides to be a highwayman and on his first foray into the wrong side of the law, Evan meets Julian or rather kidnaps him on gunpoint.
Evan and Julian are completely opposites in their demeanor. Julian has spent his life as a social butterfly without any obligations or responsibilities whereas Evan has been saddled with the huge burden of saving his family’s heritage and he is desperate enough to risk his neck to do so.
Evan is drawn in by Julian’s sunny disposition and gorgeous pretty boy looks and he longs to make Julian his. His attraction for Julian grows in leaps and bounds until it crashes and burns. Julian remains on his property as a guest after their plan to extort money from Julian’s family fails and they strike a tentative friendship.
“I love you more than you will ever know,” he whispered. “I thought my life would never be whole again, but you made it so.” ~ Evan
Julian is shown as being confused for feeling so strongly for another man. He keeps his muddled but ever-growing feelings for his devilishly handsome host under wraps until he just cannot. The whole anticipation of Julian finally acting on his desires cranks up the excitement of the story.
“It was a bizarre thought that all the affection, the appreciation for the male form had been lying dormant in Julian for so long, remaining unnoticed until Evan unlocked it with the subtlety of a hungering bear.”
Evan already had a tragic past regarding his love life and this time he will do anything to keep his lover safe. Evan is honorable and a very loving and caring person behind his sombre façade and he lavishes his love on Julian from even before they get together. Evan is shrouded in a lot of pain, bitterness and hurt and Julian penetrates his gloomy existence with his joyous personality and unconditional love.
“You don’t get to take this kiss back. It’s mine.” ~ Evan
“It is only yours. I was not prepared for the thunder when it first came over me. It scared me, and lightning burned my hands, but I still chased you. Now my eyes are clear, and I finally see that my place is in the eye of the storm.” ~ Julian
I loved the MCs together. They had a lot of odds riding against them with little to none allies. With an evil, pain in the butt lawman trying to bring Evan down any chance he got, the couple survives a lot to get their HEA. There is a lot of action at the climax which gets bloody but it shows how Evan and Julian will face off any danger or challenge for each other.
“I cannot blame anyone else for how I feel about you. It might be forbidden, or even sinful, but I’ve never known passion like this before. If that makes me a bad seed, so be it.” ~ Julian
The ending was not all sunshine and rainbows but it held a promise that the couples will get a new start in life together. Their future may not be secure given the rampant homophobia everywhere at that time but they were most definitely secure in their love for each other.
“you uncovered this whole world before me. You showed me who I can be, and you made me happy. I might not have a shilling in my pocket, but I know what I am now.” ~ Julian
I loved the gradual relationship development. The pace was in sync with the mindset of people at that time. I did not appreciate the very first intimate encounter as it was non-consensual but I was not disappointed further with how the romance progressed.
“You’re more like a storm that comes without warning, and one cannot know what it will leave in its wake.” ~ Julian
This book is the best example of a historical m/m romance. It has charm, love, lust and passion while also having pain, hurt, danger and action in equal measures. I would recommend this book to all!!
“A life without his precious canary would have been an empty cage. ~ Evan”