I bought this book because Tessa Dare told me to. I’ve read very few male/male historicals, and I think that’s because the necessity of hiding their relationship makes me sad. It’s hard for them to carve out a happy ending. Then again, that’s what brings so much drama. Anyway, to get to the point: I loved this book.
Jack is the titular scoundrel. He grew up poor, with criminal charlatan parents. Now he has a semi-respectable business of solving problems for those who can’t go the more respectable route: he helps a lot of women, either with servant troubles or husband troubles. He’s especially good with blackmail cases. He doesn’t always break the law when he’s working, but sometimes a little breaking and entering can crack a case.
Oliver is the soldier. He took a bullet in the leg during the war, and now walks with a cane. He goes to Jack’s office to confront him about his sister; Oliver assumes that Jack is up to no good and that he overcharged his sister for some unknown task. Jack is pretty good about client confidentiality, and he really doesn’t like gentlemen, so he’s rude and condescending. They’re interrupted by another client and, since Oliver’s leg is hurting, he sits in the shadows and listens.
When Jack takes the case, Oliver decides to insinuate himself into the client’s life to protect her from Jack. Oliver firmly believes in right and wrong, law and order, because he had enough lawlessness in the war. He fundamentally objects to Jack’s way of life. Jack is all, “Sod off you pretentious twit.”
For some magical reason, I was sucked into this story straight away. I liked Jack’s cynicism and Oliver’s weariness. They were wary of each other, attracted despite their best intentions, and they circled each other so slowly, dancing around their attraction. They were both such strong, developed characters, I wanted them to join forces and take over the world.
When they begin their dalliance, Jack emphasizes their class difference. When Oliver suggests Jack pose as his valet for some house party subterfuge, Jack nearly punches him. Jack lives in the real world, where people like him and Oliver don’t mix. Oliver, meanwhile, turns out to have an optimistic streak, insisting that they can find some middle ground.
Everything about this was adorable. Jack tried to hate Oliver but also tried to feed him because the man was too thin. Oliver tried to thwart Jack, but learned that sometimes rules have to bend. Jack’s sister was tough yet sweet, and his brother was a miraculous mystery who will probably get his own book and it will be amazeballs. Even the subplot — figuring out a blackmail scheme — was interesting because it made Jack and Oliver debate, and it allowed Jack to be all sneaky and “Ha ha, you didn’t realize I was so awesome at my job, did you?” This was smart, fun, and perfect.
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Soldier’s Scoundrel
by Cat Sebastian
Release Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Avon Impulse