Published by: Avon Impulse
Genre: Historical Romance
Order at: Amazon
Reviewed by: Erin
What to Expect: A gold star Regency romance with Beauty and the Beast vibes, where a beautiful con man meets a scientist earl with an anxiety disorder. Guaranteed to give you happy, feet-kicking good book feelings.
An earl hiding from his future . . .
Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.
The Lawrence Browne Affair gives you every single good-book feeling that you want from a historical romance. It made me gasp and clutch my chest. I made kicky feet of glee. I snuck reading it at work until I realized I couldn’t control my face. I lost my mind and made a fool of myself trying to describe it to a friend at a bar. “There was even a dog,” I wailed into my bourbon, crying real tears.
What is it about the book that I loved so much? First of all, it’s well-written. The dialogue is sharp, it’s fun and snappy without feeling too modern, and she has clearly done her work researching the historical period. The plot moves right along with the emotional arc and I never felt bored or like she was sketching in minimal details. I felt very present in the setting and all of the secondary characters felt very real.
Second: Tropes. All the tropes. This book is one gigantic trope-fest of things I love in books, but in a way where I didn’t feel hit over the head with them. But they’re allll there. You’ve got your earl with an anxiety disorder holed up in his rotting castle, to be tamed by the neat, fashionable, beautiful young man. (Beauty and the Beast!) He has a loyal dog (dog!) and a very estranged young son. (Learning to be a dad!) The neat, fashionable young man is actually a con man (Reformed bad boy with a heart of gold!) who is more comfortable with the bearded wild man than the powerful earl underneath. (Makeover/transformation scene!) Oh, and the end is just too good and satisfying to spoil. Trope after trope, hitting you square in the emotional junk until you can’t breathe. It’s like Loretta Chase, but with dudes.
Did I mention that Lawrence, Earl Radnor, is an inventor? His inventions have made him wealthy, not that he ever leaves his drafty old castle, and he is currently working on a telegraph. He has no interest in being an earl or acting like one. He has a panic disorder and agoraphobia, and he feels that he is just killing time until he “goes mad” like his father and brother before him. He also believes that his attraction to men is part and parcel of his madness, and does not indulge in his desires. (He’s basically half a virgin – check another trope off the list.) It’s unclear whether his father and brother were “mad” (some kind of mania, perhaps?) or just really horrible people and alcoholics, but it goes to show how broad the definition of “madness” was at the time. Lawrence doesn’t trust himself not to hurt anyone, so he refuses to interact with people. He keeps only two servants, and has sent his young son away to be raised by others.
All this changes with the arrival of Georgie Turner, who we met in Sebastian’s first book, The Soldier’s Scoundrel. Georgie is a con man running with a notorious gang. He runs afoul of the gang leader and needs a place to hide out. For various Plot Reasons, Georgie ends up at Lawrence’s estate, inserting himself (heh) as Lawrence’s secretary. He endures Lawrence’s tantrums, makes himself indispensable, and simply refuses to be thrown out. He also sees no future for them, but watches helplessly as he falls deeper and deeper in love.
Of course, they find their way to a happy ending. And of course, in a big, glorious, trope-filled book, it is a satisfying, emotion-filled, big, beautiful ending. If it’s not already obvious, I loved this book so much. I’m looking forward to seeing other people read it, and it put Cat Sebastian on my auto-buy list.
What you might not like: The author describes the feeling of anxiety and panic attacks very well…so well that I almost felt anxious.
What I loved: Everything. Seriously, all of it. This has a big, beautiful, happy romance, the right amount of angst, trope after glorious trope, a big dog (!!!) a realistic child, and cool science stuff! Go buy it!
Erin is a full time contributor to Binge on Books. She is a voracious reader and reviewer who has been been reading romances since she stole them from under her neighbor’s mom’s bed while she was at work. You can read all her reviews here.
Connect with Erin on Twitter: @booksandjoe