A tag team review with Chelsea3.75-4 HEARTS (sliding scale)
WANTED, A Gentleman of better character than he knows, who plays the Villain to the manner born. Prompt application to M.St.V. is greatly desired as a Promise remains to be kept.
Oh this was fun!
Wanted, A Gentleman
is officially my first book of the year and I couldn't have chosen any better to start the new year off! Take one overworked scribbler who is a bit shifty (Theo Swann) and pair Theo with a former slave turned well to do merchant who is straightforward (Martin St. Vincent) and get a surprisingly light, and sexy opposites attract budding romance(?)
It's romantic in a sense though the story starts with a HFN feel, it's a promising start which read like an organic conclusion.
St. Vincent (I've had a great track record with historical St. Vincents) needs help locating a wayward teen who is determined to marry a liar. The girl is the only child of St. Vincent's former masters = complicated city. Theo runs a matrimonial matchmaking advertising business where the lonely and desperate write for potential matches. The two men are thrown together during desperate measures, Martin wants to help a child he grew up with though the ties still uneasy to fathom and Theo wants the money Martin promises him....even though he can't stop his attraction to Martin.
The two start off as strangers, are thrown together in a race to catch up with the eloping pair. And you know what happens during that road trip when mutual passion and chemistry is shared between the pair?
Road side hooking up.
This isn't PWP in the least and the road trip plot and chasing the wayward teen and her crappy swain plays second fiddle to Martin and Theo's page time. Thankfully.
The story is a definite win, but some parts were better than others. Where this book excels
: The main characters are the read and butter of this story. From the moment they meet to the very last scene, Martin St. Vincent and Theodore Swann grab the reader's attention.Well known Charles is a wordsmith and exceeds with excellent dialogue between her main characters. No different in Wanted
. Theo and Martin have great balance of funny, serious, sexual and damaged.
"This has been a delightful interlude, but if you don't fuck me right now, I am going to set fire to your house. Consider yourself warned."
"Well, if you put it that way. How do you like it?"
"I'm trying to treat you with respect and consideration. The least you could do is stop playing the harlot."
"What makes you think I'm playing?"
Well matched pair.
Another point where the story excels is the fact that Martin is a conflicted character. The story is light in tone but it by no means diminishes Martin's history. I think it gave a great grasp on being...'other' than what society deems 'the normal'. It was cool to read Charles' take on a merchant Black Briton in the Georgian era. Martin is layered. He's proud of his accomplishments (freed slave now merchant), never mistreated as a slave and grateful for that because it could have been worse. But he is still angry. (Justifiably so) Traveling north of London, the reader gets a taste of the subtle racism Martin endures, learns why he chooses to continue this 'mission' and get to learn all of facets.
All while having Martin find a possible partner. And it wasn't angst riddled.
Out of the pair, Martin wins for me slightly
over Theo, though Theo is definitely no slouch in the great character department: witty, quick thinking and just a bit criminal. Both are damaged by their upbringing but aren't bitter at the world. Where the book was good
: The plot was simple and engaging. I've lost track of how many historical romances I've read that used a Gretna Green road trip plot device to throw opposites together. It was nice to read one with a queer main couple. It's a quick read so, there aren't everlasting declarations made (Totally wouldn't work BTW) There was a big twist at 65% that seems a little left field...how? what? who? But overall, it works for the arc. Where the book could have done better:
It's little nitpicks but knowing I've read stellar reads from this author in the past, I know this story could have been more. Maybe a little more exposition on Theo. It's a Martin/Theo book and we get more depth on Martin. Theo is an interesting character. He leads a double (or triple) life. Once the twist is thrown in, Theo loses a little of his sparkle. I think I wouldn't have minded more page time, maybe a little more written at the stage stops on the road. The reasoning of why Martin chose to chase after 'Cressida' is given but maybe a touch more.
Altogether, the story more than gets the job done.
Would I read more of this pairing? Yes...and no. The story ends on the right hopeful note. I wouldn't say no to possible future snippets of their future but the story really drove the main point across.
Martin is living a HEA (as much as can be expected in that time period) being free and being able to help the poor Britons in need.
Theo was a delightful addition. Two lonely hearts entwined for however long they fancy.
Sometimes a budding and hopeful end is all we need.Recommended for readers familiar with Charles work, readers of historical romance who don't mind different interpretations of a HEA.