Note: This ARC was provided by Avon Impulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Jack raised his eyes to the other man's face. This was what he had seen in the orangery all those years ago. Oliver Rivington stripped of all his fine polish, lips parted, eyes half closed, cheeks pink with lust. He had longed to know how it would feel to utterly undo a man like Rivington. But now he knew it wasn't a man like Rivington who caused his heart to beat so riotously, it was Rivington himself. Oliver. And Jack was in terrible danger of becoming foolishly fond of the man.
Ah, I do believe I've found myself a new author in the genre that I'm obsessed about most and the fact that this is her debut release makes me doubly thrilled because then I won't have to go through back lists since I'll be able to watch out for every new release she has planned and promptly--hopefully!--fall in love with each one. I do like seeing how an author will be able to set themselves apart from more established names with their debut release, and when they do so as successfully as Cat Sebastian, try to remain patient while counting the months, weeks, and days before their next book is out. I make no secret of my adoration for M/M romances, with historical ones being particularly tricky because of the specifics involved in more than one aspect of the story. Not only did Sebastian convince me that this story was set in Regency times, but she gave it her own spin, infusing Jack Turner and Oliver Rivington's love story with mystery and intrigue that had me enthralled from the moment Oliver steps into Jack's office until the sweet conclusion.
Jack Turner was born a scoundrel and three decades and a half into his life and behind studied civility, finer clothing, and a trained accent, he remains a scoundrel of sorts. He offers his services to the women who seek their own measure of justice or to even the odds in their favor against those who have wronged or taken advantage of them. Yes, he gets paid for it and he does his job using whatever means necessary. When Oliver Rivington suddenly appears in his office demanding to learn what kind of service his sister procured from Jack, it's clear that the former soldier sees him as nothing more than the scoundrel that he was. Listening in on Jack's latest client's dilemma has Oliver involving himself in Jack's affairs. They soon find themselves wary allies trying to tamp down on the desires that they have no business acting on. Close quarters and long-held fantasies bring everything to a head and soon, it becomes more than mere attraction. But what kind of future can the son of an earl and an unapologetic criminal ever have together?
The story as a whole developed over time, and thank goodness it did because rushing this--both the romance and the mystery--would have been a disservice to the main characters, Oliver and Jack. Cat Sebastian's storytelling is the kind that entices you and before you know it, you're emotionally invested in the outcomes awaiting Jack and Oliver as well as their siblings and the Wraxhalls. There were complexities to the story, what with it being set in a time where engaging in an intimate moment or relationship with someone of the same sex was considered a crime plus the supposed importance of social standing and how those differences could doom a romance. I loved getting to know Jack and Oliver and I enjoyed seeing how they would overcome the challenges set before them. Everything played out in a way that was surprising yet utterly delightful, leaving me more than satisfied by the time their story came to an end. The Soldier's Scoundrel is a novel I would happily recommend and it's on my list of best debuts of 2016. Five-plus stars. ♥
Date Read: 30 September 2016
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