Dana reviews Groom of Convenience (Scandalous Whispers of the Remmington Realm #1) by Vicktor Alexander (Published by Dreamspinner Press, October 17,2014, 300 pages)
Blurb: In an alternate universe, in the country of Angland, 1814, the gentry live lives of culture and class. It is a time of courtships, marriages of convenience, and titles, where scandal can ruin an entire family. Gender lines are blurred, and making a good match is of utmost importance. Children are born to men and women, which has led to the acceptance of same-sex marriages.
Lady Lucien Timothy Hawthorne is shocked and angry when he is betrothed against his will to Lord Heathcliff Eddington, III, the Duke of Pompinshire. While drowning his frustration at a popular gentleman’s club, he meets “Robert,” a gorgeous older man whom he sleeps with as “Timmy,” regardless of the potential damage to his reputation.
After their liaison, Lucien corresponds with Robert via letters left at Remmington, and they decide to elope. Before they can get away, Lucien meets his betrothed, Heathcliff, who he is surprised to discover is also his beloved, Robert. Both men desire a marriage of the heart, but they find out that sometimes a marriage of convenience can turn into love under the right circumstances. But Lucien has a secret, and Tlondon isn’t as safe as they once thought.
My review: This is probably one of the most complicated reviews I’ve ever written and even now as I type my thoughts are all over the place. This is the first historical m/m romance I’ve read, though historical is a loose description, because it takes place in a sort of parallel universe. The time in this universe resembles the regency period in our world. The author changed ever so slightly the names of locations and countries in order to create this world. It is also the first m-preg book I’ve read.
I wasn’t sure how this would actually work reading just the blurb, but the author did a good job explaining most things for me in the author’s note, the story, and cast/glossary segment at the end. I have to tell you the process of giving birth for a male sounds quite painful. In this world there are some males who are born with male genitalia but the inside reproductive organs were female and some females born with womanly organs outside but produce sperm that can impregnate either females or males that have a uterus. I was left wondering why males who had the female reproductive organs still had testes, since they were not able to impregnate other women and didn’t produce “seed.” I also wondered where the semen producing organs were housed inside a female with internal male reproductive organs.
I am aware that my questions are probably confusing to someone who hasn’t read this, but female and male children are born with the correct outside physical characteristics that make them female and male. However based on the internal organs they are classified as women and men. For instance the main character Lucien is physically a male, internally a woman. He holds the title of Lady but is referred to as him and called son by his parents. The opposite occurs for females that have internal male organs. They are she, but they are Lords and Dukes if so titled, and familial references are daughter and sister. I’ll admit it could get very confusing, the author does say that the first names of these characters is really important when keeping everything straight, in a manner of speaking. I did catch on fairly easy but I noticed a few discrepancies in the character introductions like a male woman being referred to His Grace, and Her Grace, though I’m sure only one of those is correct.
Now that I finished setting up the situation, I have to say that I really liked this book. Before I read m/m romance, and new adult romances before that, I used to read historical romances, many of them set in the regency period. I feel the author hit the nail on the head with his take on regency times in this alternate reality. The ton of England or Angland in this case and all it’s rules and hypocricies. It felt sort of like coming home when reading this book because of my previous love of historical romances. Lucien, a male woman was treated like female women are, and like women are in regency romances; protected, less educated, and expected to be dutiful. Heath, like many men in historical romances, is an alpha sort of male. He is strong and a real man’s man to the people in society around him, but once he meets the female or male woman that captures his heart, there is no end to the things they would do to keep their mate happy and safe.
It really is a sweet read, and the characters had great chemistry. I liked my first m-preg read and found myself loving the idea of a male’s body becoming rounded from the life he is carrying, and not just because of too many six-packs. It didn’t necessarily seem like a m/m romance because of the male woman’s sort of delicate nature and slighter stature compared to the male man. But then again, there are effeminate males in today’s society. I thought it was great that the author wrote this in mind that there is not just gay and straight, female and male. The story was written to shed light on transgenders, intersex, and a few other colors of the LGBT rainbow that aren’t often discussed. I find myself really looking forward to another story set in this universe. Perhaps my remaining questions will be answered, but even if they are not, I believe it will be a sweet romance.
8.5/10 pots of gold