Author: Ava March
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 100 Pages
At a Glance: If you love Ava March’s brand of historical romance, Convincing the Secretary adds another tick to the win column.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Business and pleasure is a mix no gentleman should consider.
Lord Grayson Holloway goes after what he wants—be it in the law office on his clients’ behalf or in the bedchamber. His new position as partner puts him closer to achieving his goal of becoming the most successful solicitor in London. There’s just one problem—his new secretary. Broad of shoulder yet mild of manner, Edward tempts Gray like no other. Yet the young man barely notices him.
Edward Fenton tries to be a good secretary, but being in Lord Grayson’s hard, commanding presence rouses Edward’s most forbidden desires. Wicked, naughty desires no gentleman should consider giving in to, let alone with his new employer.
Gray is more than willing to mix business with pleasure. But convincing Edward to take a chance on a future with him? That might be the most challenging case Gray has ever taken on.
Warning: Includes buttoned-up gentlemen who become undone, improper use of a desk, spankings, and a big bad lord who has a soft spot for his virgin secretary.
Review: Ava March is an auto-read author for me. She’s got the market on Regency gay romance pretty well tied up (sometimes the tying up in her books is literal, even), and I love her work for one simple reason: you always know what you’re going to get. In some cases, that wouldn’t seem a compliment, but in this one it is, because while certain themes and historical social cues prevail throughout her body of work, the one thing that makes each of the books great to sink into is the men she peoples those stories with. Her books really are a perfect way to make the real world go away for a little while, and who among us doesn’t read fiction for that very reason?
In Convincing the Secretary, book three in the London Legal series, Lord Grayson Holloway and his secretary, Edward Fenton, are engaged in a game of seduction and evasion, miscues and miscommunications. Fenton has been handed off to Grayson by his partner in the firm, Arthur Barrington, and to all appearances it would seem that Fenton is rather pining for his former boss, which doesn’t settle well with Grayson, of course, because there’s a part of him that wishes Fenton would look at him with the same sort of longing and devotion. It certainly isn’t Fenton’s competence as a secretary that’s keeping him employed, as is soon revealed, so with little hesitation or forethought, Grayson sets a course he hopes will lead to swaying Fenton’s attentions and affections in his direction.
Edward Fenton is the younger of the two men, inexperienced and more than a little ashamed of his desires. It’s not so much his attraction to men that causes his shame—he’s seen firsthand in Arthur Barrington and Leopold Thornton’s relationship that it’s possible for two men to find love and happiness together—but that Edward’s desires lean toward the need to be dominated, maybe even toward a little gentle humiliation, a proclivity he’s sure means there’s something perverse about him. The issue for poor Fenton is that Grayson oozes the sort of authoritative air Fenton craves, the man is temptation personified, and Edward can’t keep from becoming aroused when he’s in Grayson’s presence—something Lord Grayson begins to take notice of and decides to capitalize on.
The cat and mouse game gets underway, which is when all the miscues and miscommunications I mentioned begin to complicate matters a bit—this being one of the elements of the expected in March’s escapist romance. There’s always one last hurdle to overcome, whether it be a misunderstanding or the wrong words spoken, before her men can begin their life together.
The Regency Era and its well-heeled propriety always works well as a contrast to what March has her characters getting up to in private. This author writes gentlemen who throw off all their staid and genteel inhibitions once the doors are closed and locked, and showcases their sexual hungers to full effect. We get to know just enough about Grayson and Fenton to keep them from being one-dimensional in the long novella word count, and to make them sympathetic (in this case, especially Grayson). And yes, the “I love yous” come fairly quickly, but that’s the romantic element of romance—these two men are made for each other because it’s Gray who helps Edward embrace his desires and find freedom in his need to be commanded; and it’s Edward who helps Gray fulfill his desire to be wanted by someone he loves.
It’s a tried and true recipe that Ava March serves up in her body of work, and it’s one I greedily devour every time.
You can buy Convincing the Secretary here: