Generally, I can’t get enough of a tortured hero. And some of my favorites have suffered far more than Ashton did. Sure, he’s dealt with some emotional cruelty and his fair share of beatings, but nothing to the depths of depravity some of my favorite heroes have overcome. Yet, here it seemed so much more depressing –essentially maudlin. I can’t say for sure the reason, but maybe it’s because the story is in the first person. Regardless of why, it felt like too much most of the time.
Ashton was an orphan taken in by a cruel uncle and his wife. His aunt went on to adopt three more boys and a girl. All were more favored than Ashton, despite the fact that he was the heir to his uncle’s entitlement. Everyone was mean to him. They called him cruel names and excluded him. And even once they all grew up and he started sleeping with one of the young men who lived in the household, Ashton still never had anyone who truly cared about him.
We spent the first third of the book witnessing Ashton’s miserable time of growing up. And then his horrible uncle dies, leaving him the estate. The awful adopted brothers abscond with the family jewel and Ash is left to deal with the estate and his uncle’s insurmountable gambling debts. Eventually, a man named George comes to collect on the money owed, and offers to take it out “in-trade,” kicking off an affair between him and Ash.
Over and over, throughout the book we see Ash reach for love and affection, only to be shot down again and again. It was a downer. There is plenty of m/m sexin’ going on, which in some moments were good, but there was some awkward terminology sprinkled in –I guess to go with the setting of the book. “Buggering,” “fundament” and “sodomizing” aren’t the best words to light my fire.
There were some touching scenes at the end, and it’s almost worth it to see poor Ash find a little happiness. I just wish he’d gotten it a little sooner. A little more than 3 stars.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley