Title: The Lawrence Browne Affair
Author: Cat Sebastian
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Length: 352 Pages
Category: Historical Romance
At a Glance: Sebastian lives up to every fantastic thing said about her ability to craft a gorgeous novel.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: An earl hiding from his future . . .
Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.
Review: After reading all the rave reviews of last year’s The Soldier’s Scoundrel, there was no way I could pass up the temptation of Cat Sebastian’s second novel, The Lawrence Browne Affair, if for no other reason than I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about—that, and the fact that I’m nothing if not a huge fan of Regency Romance. This novel is not a sequel to The Soldier’s Scoundrel, although it is set in the same -verse and has some character overlap in Georgie Turner’s brother Jack and Jack’s lover, Oliver, but it can be read as a standalone with no inherent gaps in the characterizations or setting.
Georgie’s specialty is the long-con. He’s a grifter of the first order, a hustler with a gift for patience and a talent for endearing himself to his marks and then making off with their money. The problem, however, is that he’s also been known to suffer pangs of conscience, and this time it’s put him on the wrong side of gang leader Mattie Brewster. I loved the setup of Georgie’s plans for Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, and the opportunity it gave for Georgie to hide and plan his next move, not to mention my deep love for the narrative’s Beauty and the Beast overtones. From Georgie’s charm to his efficiency, it was apparent from the start that winning Radnor’s trust and soothing the man’s temperament was going to provide a solid foundation for the building of their relationship.
Lord Radnor is the beast to Georgie’s beauty. A virtual recluse, Lawrence resides on his familial estate, doesn’t accept the company of others, nor does he venture farther from home than the walks with his loyal companion Barnabus take him. His staff have all but abandoned the decrepit and dismal manor, and rumors in the village abound regarding not only his sanity but that he might be practicing witchcraft along with building his ingenious inventions. I absolutely loved Lawrence and the sympathy the author engenders in her character. In a time when insanity was attributed to all manner of maladies, Lawrence’s social anxiety and panic attacks would be enough to leave him questioning his mental health—but it’s his brother’s and father’s legacies of madness that have Lawrence convinced he’s not fit for human interaction, let alone companionship, and watching him struggle made him all the more loveable to me.
The story’s slow burn of attraction is written so well against the professional and personal distance Georgie and Lawrence attempt to maintain, each for his own reasons, and I loved the stark physical contrast of these two men. Cat Sebastian drew each scene to perfection, crafted a historical setting that grounds readers in the time period without burdening the storyline, and brings Lawrence’s home to the fore in such vivid detail—think the west wing of the Beast’s castle. There isn’t a single character introduced that appears as nothing more than set dressing, and the dialogue helps tell the story as well as the narrative does. When Georgie and Lawrence begin to give in to and act on their attraction to each other, the tension shifts from denial of their feelings to the secrets Georgie is keeping, and the fact that his intentions weren’t at all honest, not to mention legal, when he began this particular con. The conflict of conscience that leads to the novel’s touching and tense climax was really the cherry on top of the story’s sweet romantic arc.
If you love historical romance, do yourself a favor and read this book. Sebastian lives up to every fantastic thing said about her ability to craft a gorgeous novel, and The Lawrence Browne Affair is everything wonderful about historical fiction. And, of course, everything unfortunate about men who couldn’t live or love openly at this time in history.
You can buy The Lawrence Browne Affair here:
About the Author
Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.