Today’s book recommendation is three stories for the price of one, in an alternate historical universe. If that sounds like something you’re in the mood for, continue reading! 🙂
James and Nicholas by Shelly Greene: Widowed viscount James Thorne insists he will never remarry — not because he could never love again, but because he secretly already does. His late wife’s brother, Nicholas, is too closely related by law; James’s love is unseemly, violating honor and propriety. When Nicholas is badly injured in an accident, will James be shaken into confessing his feelings? Or will he lose Nicholas forever?
Dalton and Edward by K.S. Murphy: Tonight’s ball announces Dalton Irving’s engagement to a man his parents chose for him. But Dalton’s intended has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with being married to Dalton. When disaster strikes, and Dalton finds himself alone with Duke Edward Whitman, who has little patience for people and even less for discourtesy, anything can happen during this one night in London.
Robert and Anthony by K.L. Noone: Tonight’s ball celebrates Robert’s engagement and his intended’s fortune. But Robert’s in love with someone he can’t have: his secretary Anthony. Anthony’s family once was wealthy, though now he works for a living. But he’s had some success as a secret lurid novelist, and he’s hopelessly in love with Robert. When disaster strikes, secrets are revealed, and everything changes.
Let me just start by saying that I completely and utterly adored this trio of stories. I couldn’t put the book down and I stayed up way too late finishing it and then I dreamt about when I finally fell asleep.
Nicholas, with his ice-blade blue eyes and unsmiling countenance, tall as a ship’s mast with shoulders broad as sails, his entire aspect so forbidding that no one but James would ever believe the kind, patient, devoted heart beneath.Qute from One Night in London; James and Nicholas
These three stories take place during one night in London, during a ball celebrating Robert Thorne’s arranged engagement to Mr. Dalton Irving, a young man without title, but with the money the Thorne family so desperately needs. And yes, you read that right; two men are openly celebrating their engagement in a historical setting. That’s where the alternate universe thing comes into play, because in the world these three authors created, same-sex relationships may be somewhat less prevalent than heterosexual ones but they’re not against the law or frowned upon. They just are. And that is a breath of fresh air. I love reading historicals, but I’m often weary about them, knowing the authors have to be creative when it comes to writing the characters’ HEAs since same-sex relations weren’t accepted. But in these stories, they are. The concerns the MCs have on whether to take a chance on their love interest or not, are related to social class and what’s proper in the eyes of society, not the gender of their LI.
And that premise sets the tone for the entire rest of the book. Because I guess I could say you’d have to suspend disbelief in regards to how one or more of the relationships are developing. But instead, I allow myself to be swept away in the world created by these authors, where it feels like anything is possible. Even meeting and falling in love with someone in only a few hours.
All three books can technically be read as standalones, but this is a classic case of the sum being better than its parts. Each story is charming and lovely on their own, but together, they are effing fantabulous! They are so skillfully woven together, showing the events from the different characters’ POV. And the first story, about James and Nicholas, sets the scene excellently: when James is trying to find a free room where Nicholas can rest after his accident and they run into the other prospective couples behind closed doors, it makes me very curious and leaves me wanting more. Made me throw myself over Dalton and Edward’s story the second I was finished with the first.
I loved all three couples and all the characters, even the ones who might start out on the unlikeable side; the different POVs in the stories paints a complete picture and everyone is redeemed in the end. The final scene (all three stories stop at the same point) is so ridiculously happy it made me laugh out loud when reading, and it’s perfectly in line with the rest of the carefree and accepting atmosphere in the stories.
God, he wanted to kiss Anthony. He wanted to pull his heart out of his own chest and wrap it around those upright black-clad shoulders. His secretary? No. His other half. His compass-needle. The truest and most loyal piece of his world.Quote from One Night in London: Robert and Anthony
Yes, I loved all three couples and all the characters, but maybe Dalton and Edward’s story was my favorite. I have a real soft spot for instalove, and this was maybe the instaloviest instalove that ever instaloved. But most of all: Dalton was the embodiment of all the stories: beautiful, somewhat naive, and with his head in the clouds. Which is why he’s my favorite character of them all. (Something that almost changed when I read the author’s note at the end of Robert and Anthony’s story and found out that the author had a young Alan Rickman as a model for Anthony. Almost, but not quite! 😀 )
Dalton smiled at the sky during a polo match and held his hand out to collect raindrops when walking the short distance from carriage to the front door and had picnics by himself during summers at Brighton.Quote from One Night in London: Dalton and Edward
I bought this book because I love K.L. Noone’s writing and because it was pretty. I’d never read anything by K.S. Murphy or Shelly Greene before, but this will definitely not be the last thing I read by either of them.
Now, if only I could get Rosie and Cousin Elizabeth’s story, too, I’d be really really happy!
I give this trio of stories my warmest recommendations. It’s on my Goodreads “feelgood re-reads” shelf and in my heart. I freaking loved it.