FIVE HEARTS--I love reading romance.
I love reading about all types of protagonists: the socially awkward, the ultra-suave, the shy, the grumpy, etc. Hell even the super possessive 'alpha' has a place and time. Call it fantasy, guilty pleasure, whatever, just give me a good romance where the main characters have to work for a happy ending, and you will have a fan in me.
Private Truths by C.B. Lewis did this for me, hooked me with layered main characters who didn't expect love to be the final order....and were so happy that it happened to them.
A publicly closeted aristocrat and a war damaged veteran, who at the core of what matters, are great people who totally deserve each other. That's what you can find in Private Truths. This is my first 2017 fave for a reason, it's getting harder and harder I'm finding to read a book I actively want to re-read and bask in. I took joy in starting my day reading about Jack and Edward and seeing what the world threw at them next.
Set in present day London, the book starts with ginger haired vet Jack McCall being sort of forced into promoting his charity for vets in need, Those Returned, at a dress up event. His boss put him on the trail of wealthy Edward Marsden, Viscount Routhsley. Jack awkwardly places a bid for Those Returned, doesn't make much small talk and hightails it out of there as soon as he could. What he doesn't expect is really capturing the attention of the presumed ladies man viscount Routhsley.
I knew this book was going to be a winner from 4%. Jack and Edward have a chemistry that slow burned and simmered from that event and it carried itself all the way to the final page.
"I had no notion I would grow so attached to you, Mr. McCall."
"I'll second that." He leaned sideways until his shoulder rested against Edward's hip. Edward's fingers stroked through his hair and brushed down his neck. There was something comforting about the casual intimacy of that touch. "I'm glad it happened, though."
Edward kneaded his neck gently. "And I," he murmured, "shall second that."
Class differences? Yes. But Lewis didn't make it be the leading difference. Edward is smooth but he cares for people. And he takes a shine on Jack. However his public life is fodder for the gossip rags and ruthless paparazzi. So in the closet Edward remains. He and a reluctant Jack start of as men with a shared passion to help others in need, to friends, to lovers.
Jack gets swept into Edward's world. But Jack's had a taste of the limelight via harassing paparazzi. and for a man on edge and has PTSD, the results weren't favorable.
The story shines a light on those who suffer PTSD without going to extremes or brushing the aftereffects for a far fetched plot line. It's realistic. The relationship between the men doesn't happen overnight, the author wonderfully gives them time. Slow burn is the aim, over saturated sex-fests that drown out the plot won't be found here.
"Why the hell do you care?"
Edward's hand was warm against his cheek, and he had to fight the urge to tilt his head into Edward's touch.
"Why wouldn't I?" Edward asked quietly.
The passion is abundant as is the romance. The author (yes I nerded out to find out more about this author after reading) calls this book an "old fashioned romance", I couldn't agree more. At times, it gave me historical romance in present day feels. I could have easily put two men in a different time period and the story would still work.
The story mainly from Jack's POV. The reader gets to share in his wide range of emotion. The lust (yes, there is a good amount of sex, though not overly graphic), the fear and the uncertainty of falling for someone. Plus, the paparazzi/villainous angle also helped move the story along.
And the humor!
"Jesus Christ!" he exclaimed, rushing around the table to hug her, her round belly knocking against his ribs. "What's that big clown been doing to you?"
"Same thing you lads just done," Tommy said smugly, "with a hundred percent more fanny."
The humor was wonderfully mixed in throughout the book. Edward was a dashing leading man. I could buy why Jack was enamored. And Edward's parents are a hilarious delight. Even when times got rough, the humor peeked though, Great mix.
Another facet of this story is that it's on the quieter side of romance but their chemistry spoke volumes. I do enjoy a well written quieter romance, where the little moments tell a lot about the main characters' feelings. A touch can say so much.
I'm a quote-nista. I love a good quote. The more I love a story, the more quotes I save like a mad woman. Sara has 5 pages of quotes. (I'm pretty close w/ # pages of quotes from Private Truths) After my first time reading C.B. Lewis, I am a fan. I loved her words, pacing, the moments & in-between and all of her characters (even the arsehole ones)
Good persevered, an important light on veterans was portrayed with respect and a romance that definitely left a lasting impression was written. This ends with a solid HEA for me.
I'll be looking for more C.B. Lewis with bells on.
Recommended to readers who love romance between layered characters and enjoy reading slow burn.
A copy provided for an honest review.