Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hardly a Stranger (The Hunt Club Chronicles 3) by Heather Boyd

Ambrose Manning, Duke of Staines, has the worst luck in wives and lovers. A widow for fifteen years, he’s busy running his gentleman’s club, snatches pleasure from transient lovers, and relies on Francis Redding to provide intelligent companionship between social engagements. There is only one problem with his relationship with Redding; the man would make the perfect lover, if only he wasn’t a dependant servant.

Life-long footman to the Duke of Staines, Francis Redding, is hardly a stranger to the disappointment of unreachable dreams or the duke’s unorthodox love life. He’s lived in the duke’s shadow for most of his life, trained as a surgeon at his request, too, and has all too frequently kept the duke out of trouble. It’s not a bad life for a farmer’s son, until the duke’s luck runs out.

Publishers Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: anal play and male/male sexual practices.

Reviewer: BlackTulip
The Duke of Staines and Francis Redding are two characters that briefly made an appearance in the first and second book of the series. This is at last their story.

Ambrose Manning, Duke of Staines, will turn five and forty next month and he suddenly felt old, tired and bored. He was happy once and very much in love with his wife. She had been the perfect woman for him but it lasted only ten years. He was devastated when she died so unexpectedly, and that day, his heart shattered into a thousand pieces, but it was fifteen years ago.

He created a very special and exclusive Club and he threw himself wholeheartedly into it. For the last decade, it has been a great success and has filled his life, as well as some brief affairs from time to time.... but has it ever been enough to fill that void inside him? Maybe not.

Francis Redding, a farmer's son, has been first a childhood companion then he became a servant and later the Duke of Staines' footman. Then following the Duke's suggestion he trained to become a surgeon to his bawdy house.

They have a very strange and unique servant-master relationship. It is not unusual for the Duke to seek his company and discuss any important or unimportant matters he has on his mind. To Francis it is always a pleasure. He is a very reliable man and many times he was able to save Ambrose from awkward situations, which sadly has became a habit.

It is obvious that after thirty years of living side by side that they have a true friendship. But during these past ten years something else grew as time went on. Ambrose has recognized it but desperately fought it. First, because he made a rule to never dally with any servants or employees, second, because he is not so sure how these feelings would be received, not knowing if Francis is even attracted to men. But most of all because he is too afraid to lose what they share together.

Francis on the other hand felt many times that something else was in the air but he is not able to put a name on it or maybe he is simply to afraid too.

Then one night Ambrose is challenged in a stupid duel for the wrong reasons and is shot. God damn it, he was too young to die... and he would miss Redding!

It is only the beginning of their love story. Ambrose will need a very good surgeon, thank god he has one handy. Even injured and in pain he has no choice but to show what he feels because life is too short and he is not going to wait another ten years.

Once again Heather Boyd has written a very good book. It doesn't have all the tension and angst of the second one but is very similar in many ways to the first of the series. I heard that there would be another one in 2012. I cannot wait to read it. I give 4.5/5.

Publisher: Night Shift Publishing


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