Melissa reviews A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan Published April 17th 2018 by Heidi Cullinan (first published February 14th 2012), 388 pages.
Painfully introverted and rendered nearly mute by a heavy stammer, Lord George Albert Westin rarely ventures any farther than the club or his beloved gardens. When he hears rumors of an exotic new orchid sighted at a local hobbyist’s house, though, he girds himself with opiates and determination to attend a house party, hoping to sneak a peek. He finds the orchid, yes…but he finds something else even more rare and exquisite: Michael Vallant. Professional sodomite.
Michael climbed out of an adolescent hell as a courtesan’s bastard to become successful and independent-minded, seeing men on his own terms, protected by a powerful friend. He is master of his own world—until Wes. Not only because, for once, the sex is for pleasure and not for profit. They are joined by tendrils of a shameful, unspoken history. The closer his shy, poppy-addicted lover lures him to the light of love, the harder his past works to drag him back into the dark. There’s only one way out of this tangle. Help Wes face the fears that cripple him—right after Michael finds the courage to reveal the devastating truth that binds them.
A complimentary copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: I have had this book on my TBR for a while now, but I never got around to reading it. When I saw that it was being re-release after some touch ups, I thought would be the perfect time.
I’ve wanted to read A Private Gentleman for a while and I’ve never gotten around to it. When I learned Heidi was re-releasing it, I thought this would be the perfect time to read it. I have not read a lot of MM historical but I’ve read several MF so I am very familiar with the genre. A Private Gentleman is a wonderful historical romance and it felt so real and despite the period it’s set in, it felt so current and I could connect with the characters (ALL of them) and I love when that happens.
Albert is a shy and nervous man who stutters, which has made him a sort of social outcast. The people of society put up with him only because they fear his father. Albert loves plants and flowers and works for a botanical society garden (I believe it’s owned by the crown in some way). Anyway, all Albert wants is to be surrounded by his gardens and be left alone. It’s his curiosity and love of flowers that forces him out of his secure life and into a dreaded party because he’s heard rumor the hostess own an unseen orchid, and Albert can’t resist seeing it. To muster the courage to go out in public, he takes a ridiculous about of opium. Things don’t go quite according to Albert’s plan with trying to see the orchid, but he does get to sneak a look at the orchid, which makes Albert happy. 🙂
While at the party, Albert meets Michael, a prostitute. I am not going to spoil that meeting, but let’s just say they get to know each other well. 😉 Michael has his own torments and demon filled past, which is closely tied in with Albert’s. These two thru circumstances find comfort in each other and thru love find peace and happiness.
I found this whole story to be extremely well written and I enjoyed all the characters. I highly recommend this and give it 4.5 stars/9 pots.
Heidi grew up in love with story. She fell asleep listening to Disney long-playing records and read her Little House On The Prairie books until they fell apart. She ran through the woods inventing stories of witches and fairies and enchanted trees and spent hours beneath the lilac bush imagining the lives of the settlers who had inhabited the homestead log cabin and two-story late 1800s home on her family farm. She created epic storylines for her Barbies until it wasn’t satisfying enough to do so any longer (age ten), and then she started writing them down. Her first novel, The Life and Times of Michelle Matthews, was published when she was twelve in the school anthology and took up nearly half of it.
Though Heidi continued to write novels through high school (and still has the Rubbermaid tub full in her bedroom), she stopped in college, deciding it was time to grow up and do something meaningful with her life. When the specifics of that didn’t pan out, Heidi ended up in grad school to become a teacher, and through one of the courses rediscovered her love of romance novels. She began to write again on the side, continued to do so while she taught seventh grade language arts and reading, and when she quit teaching to have her daughter, she took up writing with more seriousness, both as a stress relief and as a potential means of bringing in money.
Many million pages later, Heidi has learned a lot about writing, more than she ever wanted to know about publishing, and most importantly, finally figured out that writing IS the meaningful something she wants to do with her life. A passionate advocate for LGBT rights, Heidi volunteered for One Iowa during the fight for marriage equality and donates with her husband as a monthly partner to the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal. She encourages you to support your own local and national LGBT rights groups, too.
Heidi enjoys reading, watching movies and TV with her family, and listening all kinds of music. She has a husband, a daughter, and too many cats. Heidi is an active social networker, and of course has good old-fashioned email (firstname.lastname@example.org).