Review: Seducing Stephen by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

What does a jaded earl see in a studious, shy man? Everything he never knew he was missing. Their first, scorching hot sessions were about passion, not love, but now Peter is desperate to win back the young man he spurned.

Review by Erastes

This book sort of took me by surprise. First of all, the title doesn’t really fit the book–because I was expecting that it would be about…yanno…seducing Stephen, but considering that Stephen gives it up to the Earl on the first page, he didn’t exactly need seducing! I thought that I was in for a good old sexy romp and not much else, but that’s where I was (happily) wrong, and slowly and surely an interesting and quite psychological little drama emerged from something looks at first glance to be filled with cliché and trope.

First lines are important – and this book has a great one.

“Gads, there’s a boy in my bed. It’s Christmas come early.”

The beginning is amusing and engaging and despite my misgivings I was drawn in, rather fascinated as to why the Earl expected a young man to be in his bed, or at least wasn’t at all surprised. This is soon explained!

As for a good old sexy romp–yes, we get that too. There’s a large chunk of sex, specially at the beginning, but each sex scene has a part to play and marks the progress in the burgeoning affair between Stephen and Peter. As the blurb already hints the affair starts as sex and then moves into more complicated territory and that’s the nice surprise; it could have easily have been nothing more than a sex-progression story, but for a small book it packs a lot more punch. There’s a bit too much “hardening” every time one or the other of them sees the other, or looks at the other but I suppose these things do happen, but sometimes it smacks of satyriasis rather than anything erotic.

I loved the progression of the romance–and for me there was a touch of Dangerous Liaisons at one point, where one of the characters did something really hurtful (even though it was because he considered to be best for both of them.) Sadly, due to the length of the book, this really wasn’t given enough time to develop as much as I would have liked–but it worked pretty well but in this respect it should have been called “Educating Peter” to be honest.

Two of the most memorable characters are a couple that make a brief appearance; two delightful old queens, Foxworthy and Wainwright, who have been living together all their lives, in public view and daring the consequences. I was so pleased to meet these characters because with gay historicals it’s more often the conflict that is the essence of the book–because a book must have conflict–and we forget all too often that some men were lucky enough to live together.

“Ah, to be young and in love.” Foxworthy chuckled. “I don’t envy you the ups and downs, Northrup, not even for the extra passion they engender.”

A little small talk and gossip later, Peter took his leave, noting the tenderness with which Timothy grasped Gilbert’s arm and helped him rise from his chair.

‘You may not envy me, you old codger, but I believe I envy you.’

On the con side – it badly needed a firm Brit Picking. Many non-Brit readers will probably not care, but for those who like their English-set stories to feel English, be warned. Having Stephen’s “ass” pounded just brings up images of donkey mistreatment that I’d rather not have. How can you tell if someone is comparing you to his rear end or his donkey if you don’t differentiate between arse and ass? There are many other Americanisms, such as gotten, whiskey, to name but two and I can’t help it, I get jolted. There were a couple of instances of “bum” too – which always makes me laugh; it’s like someone heard the word on a show and thinks that what English people actually say. Please don’t use this word, unless your knight is asking you if his bum looks big in his armour. (not seriously.)

A few mistakes in the history/details too, “matriculation” doesn’t mean to graduate out of a university, as it’s used here. The foxtrot didn’t exist pre 1914. Little mistakes which again, a harsher editor would have ferreted out.

I would have preferred a more definite sense of time, too. I knew it was probably Victorian (if only from the cover, as the Great Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament was built in 1859) and after the instigation of railways between London and Cambridge – but there was nothing in the story to ground me until Peter’s visit to Foxworthy and Wainwright. That was the first mention of a date, and that was over half way through the book.

But all in all this book is far more than it seems, a little TARDIS of a novel, if you like. Don’t be fooled by what it looks like at first glance. There’s a really nice character-fuelled story here, and characters with real feelings, pride, idiocy – people who make mistakes and say stupid things and regret them. People who hurt each other for good reasons – and for reasons perhaps more selfish.

I’ll certainly be looking out for any future historicals these authors do, that’s for sure.

Bonnie Dee’s website Summer Devon’s website

Buy at Loose ID

6 Responses

  1. Hey, Erastes! Thanks for the review.

    Lucky for us, our next book had all asses removed by our fabulous editor and proofer—but now I’m fretting about a bum check. I think that word might have been used for a light-hearted moment or two. I knew that it was light-hearted sort of a word—it just can’t be serious. Are there serious historically accurate British words for the ‘tocks? Arse? Rear?

    Anyway, that ass-free book has been retitled “The Gentleman and the Rogue”

    Thanks again,
    Kate, who writes as Summer

    • HI Kate – Glad you liked it – as you know I’m a fan of the book!

      It’s almost a joke word – a child’s word. something that women would say today “he’s got a lovely bum” or “does my bum look big in this” but can’t see men using it even today, let alone gentry in the 19th century – and certainly not in thoughts.

      I recommend checking Grose’s dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue

      http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext04/dcvgr10.txt – I also have another slang dictionary which I cannot find, but it’s good – ah – this one – Slang and Euphenism

      backside, fundament, arse, rear, pratts (vulgar), posterior, behind – it all depends on who is saying it about whom…

      Glad the asses have been removed though. :)

  2. Oh, yes, I know and love Francis Grose and all that wonderful cant. I used him all over the next book, although some of my favorite phrases were so obscure they had to be taken out.

    I had never heard of that other book though.

    Do you know this one? http://www.amazon.com/Historical-Dictionary-Slang-Book-K/dp/1853269042/ref=sid_dp_dp

    I don’t (found it while I was looking up your Spears book) and wonder if it’s any good.

    • They look GREAT and for 1.51 well worth getting – if I lived in the US I’d snap them up! But i don’t know if they are any good but they look impressive.

  3. We greatly appreciate your review and the note about missed Americanisms. We did have a Brit line editor for The Gentleman and the Rogue, so hopefully there should be fewer booboos.

    Thanks again and glad you liked Stephen and Peter.

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