Author ~ Vanessa Mulberry
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 17th October 2016
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance, Mystery
April 1594. William Moodie thinks he’s in love with celebrated actor Richard Brasyer. When Brasyer’s playing company, Goldfox’s Men, comes to town, William is only too willing to leave his country life for the opportunities of the theater and a life in London. Determined to become Richard’s apprentice, William seeks to impress his mentor with his acting—and please him in bed.
Meanwhile, Richard struggles to escape his past as a spy and disentangle himself from the manipulations of his former master and ex-lover, Bennett Goldfox. Swearing off a relationship with his new apprentice proves difficult for Richard, as William uses all his youthful charms to seduce him. When Bennett’s life is threatened, Richard is lured back into the game for one final mission, and he and William travel to Cambridge to hunt down a list of traitors to the Crown.
In the midst of danger and deception, Richard and William come to truly see each other, faults and all, and realize their feelings run deeper than either expected.
The First Act is an historical piece set in 1594 England. William believes he is love with the stage actor Richard Brasyer. His cousin Geoffrey is one of the owners of the playing company and William convinces him to take him on as an apprentice. After all being the youngest of four brothers leaves little for him to stay at home for, especially when he has a preference for men. While learning his new trade, William makes it his mission to seduce Richard without truly knowing what he’s getting in to.
The primary cast is small, and the author doesn’t stray from the storyline, which is good. William is a determined young man, from a small town wanting to experience the excitement of life. Richard is the irresistible stage fantasy women and men fill their dreams with. Privately, he’s a man with a heart who, due to his past, is hesitant to share it. Geoffrey is the caring cousin who gives both Richard and William warnings of a different kind. Then there is Bennet, the wealthy man who has acquaintances of the highest and lowest quality – a man who Richard both loves and hates. Will Richard’s growing affection for William take root? Will William’s love turn out to be only lust? Or will Bennet interfere in everything? I had fun finding out.
This story is written with the same quality that readers are used to coming from Dreamspinner. And for the majority, the language used is historically appropriate. I understand that the copy I read isn’t necessarily the final version, so this may change. However, the etymology dictionary suggests that some of the language (in the definition way it is used) doesn’t fit the period, e.g., Fuck, as a word referring to sexual intercourse wasn’t used until the 1670’s, and, cannot, wasn’t shortened to can’t until 1706. I’m on the fence here because, I recognize the need to be authentic, but reading entirely historically correct novels can be hard to understand unless Google is one’s partner while reading. Personally, I found the little embellishment on the timeline, helped me connect to the characters better. I think more stories like this could help open up historical novels to a wider audience.
The First Act has a charm about it. William is pushy, Bennet is ruthlessly calm, Richard is caught between the two. The spy angle is a later addition to the story, adding a little more drama. It is, however, the budding relationship between William and Richard, with Bennet as an interfering third wheel that takes up the majority. I found it an easy story to read and understand.
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