So I decided to step my toe into the m/m romance arena. (BTW, thanks to everybody with the recs, keep 'em coming)
Anyway, there could not have been a better book to start with. This one hit all my happy places. It has two very appealing protagonists who have chemistry to burn and compliment each other wonderfully. It has really good supporting characters that add to the plot as well as act as interesting characters all on their own, it has an interesting setting, and finally it has antagonists with believable (if stupid) motivation.
The book is told from Whyborne's (he dislikes being called by his first name, Percy) first person narrative. Whyborne is the youngest son of an incredibly wealthy business magnate. He has rejected his father's ideas of what he should do with his life, choosing rather to use his formidable intellect to become a philologist at a local museum.
Whyborne doesn't have the most forceful personality. His father is overbearing and makes no bones about the fact that he considers Whyborne a disappointment. His older brother has been somewhat of a bully. And Whyborne keeps himself somewhat repressed because of his nature. He is attracted to men and doesn't quite know how to negotiate this fact given that it was dangerous to be so. And his best friend, with whom he'd been desperately, unrequitedlty in love, died during a late night lark during their teenaged years -- a circumstance for which Whyborne blames himself. Suffice to say, Whyborne has some self esteem issues.
I could have been exasperated by him, and in some ways I was. He put himself down a bit in the book, wondering how the the handsome, wonderful Griffin could want someone like him. Deriding his 'Tall, gawky self' over and over. And yet, I liked Whyborne. Even amidst some of the self-effacingness there was a quiet assurance and strength about him.
Griffin is a great compliment to Whyborne. Handsome and dashing, his bright waistcoats paint him the peacock to Whyborne's more sober peahen (Whyborne always wear brown or grey). He has the self confidence that Whyborne lacks, and yet he does have his own vulnerabilities which are revealed rather vividly. I liked how the two slowly came together and how the relationship developed.
As far as the plot, it was a mix of gothic horror and paranormal that moved briskly and was really rather entertaining. As mentioned above I love how the motives of the antagonists for getting involved in what they were doing felt realistic and understandable. The main villain was a little bit farther along the evil scale than his companions. What saved him from being a total mustache-twirler was he was a very intelligent person who valued intellect. And rather than treating Whyborne like an oddity he respected him. There was a great scene in the end where the villain and Whyborne got their geek on together for brief moment. Whyborne laments that he would have liked him if he wasn't trying to destroy the world. LOL.
I can't not mention the fabulous Christine. She is an archaeologist who works at the museum with Whyborne. She is sharp and has lovely pithy observations. Through her we get to see the frustrations of a smart, educated woman in a male dominated society. She is also an awesome friend and handy with a gun. I hope she remains a big part of the series.
Definitely gonna pick up the next book if only to see how Whyborn and Griffin develop and to hang with Christine some more.