I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When his godfather leaves his house to him, Hartley's reputation gets banded about in less than complimentary terms. Feeling shunned, Hartley finds himself losing servants and becoming a bit of a shut-in.
Sam just wants to see his brother and his friend Kate finally get married and when he learns Kate fears a scandalous painting of her becoming public knowledge, he sets out to find it for her.
When Hartley and Sam meet, the spark is instant but circumstances, emotions, and life are going to give them a bumpy road.
Hartley went utterly still as he contemplated how thoroughly ruinous this was going to be for both of them.
Second in the Seducing the Sedgwicks, a series following along the Sedgwick brothers, this book focuses on Hartley, the brother who is deeply conflicted about how he sees trading sexual favors with his godfather for money to help his family. He doesn’t like to be touched and has a little bit of a prickly personality. Maybe because Sam was such a strong character but Hartley didn't leap off the pages for me. He's pretty self-contained and we do get a couple scenes with two of his brothers that highlight his personality but overall, he didn't grab me.
There was no reason for Sam to be thinking of Sedgwick at all, in fact. He wasn’t even that handsome unless you had a liking for fragile-looking men with fussy clothes.
Sam was the character that shone the brightest to me, he's a strong character but in the most gentle of ways. He has a similar shy, hidden aspect of his personality like Hartley, which due to their sexuality in their place and time is a necessity, but he also has rise to the front proclivity for, simply, caring. It is not an overdone martyr syndrome but no thought, generous, and loving way he makes his choices. The way he acts, responds, and encourages Hartley, is what make this story shine and will fill your heart.
And while only a fool would believe that a kitchen table supper between a rich man, a black boxer, and a three-legged dog could be the beginning of something good, maybe Sam was more foolish than he thought.
The writing showcased here is good and the ease of conversations and interactions between the main couple and secondary characters is the escape into fictional worlds above average quality that will suck you into the world. The first in the series, It Takes Two Tumble, I thought did a great job with the emotional growth in the lead's relationship, here I found that aspect lacking in the beginning. Hartley and Sam's sexual relationship develops pretty quickly, the emotional layers were a ways behind and as a consequence, I found their romance lacking. The sexual play scenes start very early and then when they do have a more solid emotional connection, I thought their sex scene was a bit short and abrupt and didn't deliver the impact (Hartley overcoming his touch issues) I was wanting to feel. The ending did provide some wonderful simple talking between Sam and Hartley that I wish had replaced some of the earlier sex scenes as I felt this showed their attraction and closeness more.
Nobody should have that kind of power over anyone, no matter how much money they had or if they had a title in front their name.
This story is heavily about relationships, the outer story and catalyst for getting Sam and Hartley together involving paintings is made to seem important only to be casually pushed to the background for most of the story and then a little rushed importance at the end. The secondary characters are superb (love Alf, Hartley's sort of valet) and add immensely to the story and world. This is one of the more realistic fiction romances with social issues realistically playing a role. If you're looking for a lot of action or adventure, this wouldn't be it but if you want sweet and aching emotion, you'll want to dive in.