September 26, 2016

REVIEW: The Soldier's Soundrel

The Soldier's Scoundrel, by Cat Sebastian
Publish Date:
September 20, 2016
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Format: ARC, provided by the publisher
Genre: adult m/m historical romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4.5 STARS

(Synopsis) A scoundrel who lives in the shadows

Jack Turner grew up in the darkness of London's slums, born into a life of crime and willing to do anything to keep his belly full and his siblings safe. Now he uses the tricks and schemes of the underworld to help those who need the kind of assistance only a scoundrel can provide. His distrust of the nobility runs deep and his services do not extend to the gorgeous high-born soldier who personifies everything Jack will never be.

A soldier untarnished by vice

After the chaos of war, Oliver Rivington craves the safe predictability of a gentleman's life-one that doesn't include sparring with a ne'er-do-well who flouts the law at every turn. But Jack tempts Oliver like no other man has before. Soon his yearning for the unapologetic criminal is only matched by Jack's pleasure in watching his genteel polish crumble every time they're together.

Two men only meant for each other

I don't do too many historical romances, but this one was so much fun, and I'm so glad I read it. The characters were fun and interesting and the story even more so. 

Jack is a man who is on the very bottom rung of English society, having come from parents of ill repute. After having to stoop to drastic measures to make a living, he's trying to turn himself around, using his skills to help women in difficult situations. It is through a former client of his that he meets Oliver, a gentleman who's just returned home from war, not entirely whole anymore. 

Oliver is trying to find his place in life now that he's done with the military. But, he's unsettled with all the things that he found enjoyable before. He meets Jack, and although Oliver doesn't approve of his methods, the work that Jack's doing intrigues him. Even though he doesn't want to, Oliver finds himself thinking of Jack and his newest case often. And before Jack knows it, he has a partner. In more ways than one. 

To make matters even more interesting, Jack and Oliver are gay in a time when that was not acceptable. For a man of Oliver's status, he would receive a slap on the wrist and be the topic of all the good gossip for a long while. However, for Jack, if he were caught with a man like Oliver, he could be jailed. Despite knowing the consequences, despite Oliver's issues with Jack's methods, and despite the fact that neither man believes in love or forever, they just can't stay away from one another. Even though Jack knows it would be better for Oliver if they could stay apart.

"No matter what you do, I'll always be the sordid part of your life." Jack loved Oliver too much to be a blot on the man's perfection. "I'll be a dirty secret."

I loved how Cat Sebastian gave Jack and Oliver some big differences - not just socio-economically, but ideologically, too. Sometimes those disagreements on what's "right" and "wrong" can make or break a couple if one isn't willing to try and see the other's point of view. So, it was interesting to watch Oliver navigate through his thoughts on the matter, especially given his history. But, Oliver wasn't the only one who shifted and changed throughout the course of the book. Oliver had a big effect on Jack and his outlook for the future. So, it was fun to see these two men get thrown for loops. 

The mystery of Jack's clients missing letters was a really nice thread woven throughout the story of Oliver and Jack's romance (which, of course, is the REAL story - the main reason why I picked up the book). It was clever and surprising and gave me lots to enjoy in between the steamy encounters and crazy sexual-tension filled scenes. 

Even though historical romance isn't my go-to genre, I'm so glad I gave this one a go. It was a fun book, and I'm looking forward to checking out more from Cat Sebastian.

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