Review: The Viscount and the Artist by Alyson Pearce (Eccentrics #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

One of my new favorite sub-genres this year has been M/M historical romance. Sexual acts between men--whether between longtime partners or one-off encounters--were considered criminal, only having been decriminalized to a certain extent in 1967 and met a more sweeping action with the Sexual Offences Act 2003. While there are modern day books with one or both characters hiding their sexuality due to pressure from one group or persuasion (i.e. family, religion, work, etc.), I have more of a fascination with the lengths that gay and bisexual men would go to in these Regency Era romances since there was the very real threat of imprisonment and death. So, when I read the synopsis for The Viscount and the Artist, I found myself curious because of the complications that the main characters were going to be up against. Plus, I have a soft spot for debut releases, and with this not just being Alyson Pearce's first published novel but also the beginning of a new series, The Eccentrics, I wanted to see what this novel was made of.

It's been two years since Andrew Cardwell returned from a war campaign that took much more from him than he would ever admit publicly. He lost a dear friend and his older brother as well two years ago, and now he has been dealt another blow courtesy of the sudden passing of his beloved uncle, leading to Andrew becoming the new Lord Cardwell. Unable to mourn due to more pressing matters left behind by their family's loss, Andrew finds an unexpected distraction in the person of Jeremy Leighton. Now grown up at twenty-one and having finished his studies in classical art in Oxford, Jeremy has captured Andrew's attention in a way no other man has before. When he decides to offer the young artist a sponsorship, it isn't limited to Jeremy being paid a rich sum to paint the new Lord Cardwell's official portrait. Andrew hopes to teach Jeremy a thing or two about the pleasures of being with another man, things that Andrew has learned in his thirty-two years. This is a temporary arrangement...but what if they seek permanence?

The story was both intriguing and enticing, told with a third person voice from both Andrew's and Jeremy's points of view. They are from different stations, Andrew belonging to the peerage and Jeremy the only child of a vicar. There is also the eleven-year age difference between the two men, as well as Andrew's harrowing experience with death and loss courtesy of his being in the war and Jeremy still carrying an innocence and naivete around him. While Jeremy did, indeed, learn from Andrew, especially when it came to being with a man and the ins and outs of society and finding patronage among the elite, the older man learned from the younger one as well, finding a different sort of acceptance and opening himself to love and realizing that not being in control all the time does not equate to the end of the world. The book works well as a series starter, introducing readers to Andrew's close-knit circle of friends, and I look forward to reading their tales as the series moves forward. 4.5 stars for The Viscount and the Artist. ♥

Date Read: 14 October 2016

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