Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review: A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan

Book Review: A Private Gentleman 
by Heidi Cullinan

To seal their bond, they must break the ties that bind.

Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. When he hears rumors of an exotic new orchid sighted at a local hobbyist’s house, though, he girds himself with opiates and determination to attend a house party, hoping to sneak a peek. He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite.

Michael climbed out of an adolescent hell as a courtesan’s bastard to become successful and independent-minded, seeing men on his own terms, protected by a powerful friend. He is master of his own world—until Wes. Not only because, for once, the sex is for pleasure and not for profit. They are joined by tendrils of a shameful, unspoken history. The closer his shy, poppy-addicted lover lures him to the light of love, the harder his past works to drag him back into the dark. There’s only one way out of this tangle. Help Wes face the fears that cripple him—right after Michael finds the courage to reveal the devastating truth that binds them.

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5 Stars!!!

I love Heidi Cullinan's writing, so when we got a request for a historical book by her, of course, I jumped at the chance to review it and I absolutely loved it!

Lord George Albert Westin (Wes or Albert) has suffered his family's and peers scorn for his bad stammer and social anxiety issues, which he counteracts with Laudanum drops and opiates. Michael Vallant is a whore, who has buried a traumatic event in his past that comes to the forefront of his mind after a heated encounter with Albert, who reminds him of Albert's father, Lord Daventry, even if the two men couldn't be more different. Plagued by nightmares and unable to perform his job any longer, Michael agrees to spend a month in Albert's company, which just helps to make them fall even more in love with each other. However, love might not be enough for Albert to fight the claws of his addiction or for Michael to finally move past what Daventry did to him.

Wow, just wow, there was a lot going on in this book and perhaps I should start with some warnings, there are mentions of child abuse (nothing graphic) and drug use, so if those put you off, this is not the book for you.

I loved Wes/Albert, despite his stammering and all he'd gone through because of it, he was such a lovely, plant-loving, kind man. I adored the way he treated Michael and how he doted on him. He was so patient and nice, but at the same time, he had his own demons to fight against. His social anxiety and his inability to communicate with others, compounded with his opium dependency, was a recipe for disaster and actually, if he hadn't fallen in love with Michael and met Penny Brannigan, who became such a wonderful, supportive friend for him, he probably wouldn't have survived the hell he found himself in.

Michael was adorable, too. My heart broke for him I don't know how many times as I learned his story and its aftermath. I was so happy he had such a good friend in Rodger, who cared for him and was there for him when Michael needed it, even when Rodger wasn't in agreement with what Michael wanted.

I loved Michael and Albert together, they were sweet and supportive and tried their best to help each other. I melted in a puddle of goo with how adoringly Albert treated Michael, every touch, every kiss, every single word.

I loved Rodger and Penny, who were instrumental in helping Michael and Albert rebuild their lives. Penny was amazing and her own story was very sad, it was awesome that she'd turned out as she did after it and that she helped Wes so much with his stammering and his addiction.

I loved Wes's nephew and my heart broke when I read what he'd been going through. I wasn't too sure about Vaughn, Wes's brother, at first, but the way he dealt with what had happened to Edwin and learning about his brother and Michael's involvement won me over.

I detested Michael's mother, who was a truly horrible woman, but above all, I absolutely hated Wes's father, who was the devil incarnate and had a very fitting ending, although I wouldn't have minded if he'd suffered a bit more.

Overall, A Private Gentlemen was amazing! Angsty and emotionally-driven, romantic and sweet, but with some darkness lying within its pages. It wasn't an easy read at times, but it was well worth it. Highly recommendable!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

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