I was curious. How does an historical romance involving two men compare to one about a man and a woman? I picked up Lord Byron’s Secret Obsession by H. C. Brown to explore the differences.
This novel is more matter of fact then I expected. There are no flowers, no romance, but an excess of sexual escapades. Yes there are expressions of love, but lust seems to be the overwhelming emotion. The plot is simple. Wealthy Lord Byron Wilton, heir to a Marquis, is desperately in love with Lord David Litchfield, the second son of a Duke. He enjoys binding and caning the young Adonis, sexually dominating his lover who seems to enjoy the submissive role. When Lord David publicly exhibits jealousy over Byron’s friend Lord John Henley, Byron buys a commission in the colonies to escape any resulting gossip. In 1792, sodomy was a situation punishable by death. Since British society was totally intolerant of such behaviors, men with these predilections had to hide their same sex escapades. Upon Lord Byron’s return to London, he discovers that Lord David has become a sex slave to the evil Joseph Hale and his two despicable friends. The trio are unwilling to let Lord Byron pay off the lads debts, although they do allow him to rent the boy, thereby removing David temporarily from their cruel sexual appetites. Together with Lord John, who had also experienced the depravity of Hale, Byron devises a plan to rid the earth of these scumbags.
Although short in length, this novella contained too much repetition, with the dialogue often replicating the characters’ thoughts. While Lord Byron was supposed to be noble, I found him calculating and self centered, even while attempting to be considerate of others feelings. Lord Byron decides to marry David’s sister Sarah who was raped and inpregnated. In this way, except for the wedding night, he didn’t need to visit Sarah’s room. She admits she is not interested in his sexual advances and he inadvertently discovers she prefers the attentions of her lady’s maid. Sarah believes that Byron has a mistress, and doesn’t suspect that he is in love with her brother who has an adjoining room with her husband. Many of the other characters also maintain a jaded view of their lives. Due to their attitudes, it is hard to feel any sympathy for their plight.
Ultimately, this topic just wasn’t my “cup of tea”. I am more interested in the romance aspect of a novel, not raw sexual experiences which border on porn. Even if the subject matter was enticing, the writing is too stilted for my taste. In addition, while doing some research on other works by this author, I discovered this plot is almost identical to Brown’s book Lord and Master published in 2013. The love interest is even named David. One star for writing the “same book” twice.
I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.