Review: The Varlet and the Voyeur by Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway

Reviewed by Sara

The Varlet and The Voyeur is book four in Penny Reid and L.H. Cosway’s Rugby Series. I really enjoyed the previous three books in the series and was stoked for this book to come out.

Will Moore is the strong silent member of the Irish Rugby team. He is seen as well-mannered and scandal free until a tabloid accuses Will of paying prostitutes to perform sex acts so that he can watch. The team is shocked and so are Will’s sponsors. Will is all about rules, ethics and preventing misunderstandings. He is also, definitely, a voyeur and, while never having paid prostitutes (he views this as unethical because prostitution can be exploitive), he has had a non-monetary arrangement with several married couples. So, to make things up to the team and regain his good name he hires Josey Kavanagh to be around him to keep him from finding another couple to watch. Will initially views, sweet, exuberant Josey as a little sister or a puppy. However, unexpected things can happen in close quarters and soon Will doesn’t see Josey as a little sister at all. To avoid misunderstandings he puts both rules and a deadline on their interactions, which (of course!) means misunderstandings abound.

Will is the type of character I should have loved. He’s the strong, silent, possibly virginal guy who also happens to be part of an extremely rough and tumble sport. Thing is, I really didn’t care for Will. I understand his character and motivations –  he’s a guy who grew up with very little female influence, he’s had few relationships and due to these factors, Will believes that to protect those he’s in a relationship with from power imbalances, exploitation, and misunderstandings, he needs to create very specific rules, strict guidelines, and expectations. This isn’t necessarily a bad things, communication and boundaries are important in all relationships, but it didn’t really seem to me that the rules and expectations were for the other party, but more for Will’s benefit. I found him to be incredibly selfish in this regard and Josey plays right into it. She is so concerned with “poor” Will and his needs that she is willing to accept less than what she wants to make sure that Will is comfortable.  What’s worse is that it’s not outright selfishness that makes me dislike Will it’s that subtle, “I know what’s best. I will protect the poor, not so smart, women from danger,” kind of selfishness mixed with faux concern that even with his “come to Jesus “ moment I simply could not get over.

The Varlet and the Voyeur contains some very smart, well researched information. The authors use the characters to delve into to topics like power dynamics in dating and in the workplace, ethical vs. unethical pornography and sexual stereotypes based on gender. They also went to great lengths to demonstrate that there’s nothing wrong with Will’s voyeurism and how he goes about seeing his sexual needs met (Spoiler! There’s nothing wrong with voyeurism as long as it’s done without exploiting or taking advantage of those involved.) However, I felt that defense of Will and the assertion that his preferences didn’t make him a bad or deviant person was a bit overbearing and hamfisted. The point was asserted constantly and to the extent that I wanted to shout, “I get it, Will’s not a bad guy!” every time it was mentioned.

For me, The Varlet and the Voyeur was a disappointment. The story is alright and Josey’s character was adorable, but I struggled to like Will’s character in light of what I saw as his selfishness and faux concern. I also found the defense of Will’s preferences to be to prominent in the book, to the point that it distracted from the rest of the plot.

Rating C

Received from publisher for honest review.

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Varlet and the Voyeur
by Penny Reid & LH Cosway
Release Date: June 14, 2018

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