Isolated, lonely scholar Percy tries to live a quiet life under everyone’s notice, living with his haunted past and hoping no-one learns the secret of his sexuality
When a private investigator enters his world, demanding his expert help and dragging him into world of dark mystery and death – and sex.
Some books are written with delicate nuance, carefully crafted writing and gentle subtlety that gracefully introduces you to the world, the characters and the plot line, allowing them all to grow and be revealed with beautiful, natural flowing style.
And some books handle the plot with all the gentle subtlety of a sledgehammer being wielded by a drunken carnival barker. Guess which category this book fits in?
Our hero, Percy Whybourne is awkward and clumsy and self hating and self-conscious and isolated and hates company and his family hates him and has a desperately tragic past which he feels terribly guilty about but, because he’s the hero, of course he isn’t actually to blame for it but he feels all sad and guilty about it anyway.
This is all dumped in ridiculously vast detail very early in the book. In fact, Percy feels the need to clumsily reference the childhood friend who died by page 16, his dad hating him by page 18 which also includes a full description of that child’s death. Seriously this is just info-dumped in there, the book hasn’t even started Percy’s clumsy awkwardness is referenced about once every other page. In all this time he’s missed the bus and arrived at work. Subtle, it ain’t, nor is it particularly endearing to the character. I can’t even picture Percy as a character because he’s more a collection of tropes – the awkward, clumsy, tragic closeted gay academic who doesn’t love himself.
Unfortunately, this lack of nuanced writing pretty much tells you how the romance is going to be depicted.
We meet designated love interest Phillip. Who is hot. So very hot. And Percy mentions this a lot, in between stammering, being clumsy and being all tingly every time Phillip touches him (which he does a lot, always through layers of clothes but super-hot – this heat is always mentioned. I’m sure he has 3rddegree burns from all this heated touching through clothes), stands near him, breathes on him or glances in his direction. We also have repeated mention of malachite eyes and lips. Oh gods the lips.
By page 37 there are 24 separate references to the hotness of Phillip and Percy’s red hot reaction to him. It most certainly does not reduce as the book goes on but I did get tired of counting. Not only is this rather dull but it’s somewhat damaging to the world setting – this is a Victorian era setting where being gay is persecuted by law. Percy’s existence as a gay man is a crime and I have never known an LGBT person who is just this bad at hiding his arousal. Even as a horny teenager, most of us are simply better at hiding than this even when we don’t live in a world where discovery will arrested and imprisoned. Percy, how can you be this bad at this!