Title: The Private Secretary
Author: Summer Devon
Length: 141 Pages (Kindle)
Category: Historical Romance
At a Glance: The Private Secretary is a well written and diverting historical romance with a little conflict, some undeniable wanting of the lustful variety, and a happy ending that suits the setting.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Down on his luck and desperate for employment, Ezra Seton is offered only one job: to work in the house of a heartless bully, the very man who drove Ezra’s lover away. Gritting his teeth, Ezra takes the position. But neither the new job nor the master of house are close to what he expected. Still, he vows to keep his distance, no matter how difficult maintaining his composure in the face of relentless drollery becomes.
Robert Demme’s pleasure-seeking days are over. Having rescued his cousin Ambrose from a lunatic asylum, he expends much of his energy pacifying the fragile eccentric. Hiring an assistant offers some relief—and also intriguing temptation. Unfortunately, the fascinating Seton apparently loathes him. Determined to discover the reason, Robert uses his considerable wit to get under the man’s skin, stunned when his plan backfires. Instead of unraveling the stalwart secretary, Robert has undone himself. All he’s accomplished is a deepening his own interest. Perhaps he senses Robert’s not-so-innocent attraction.
When the two spend the night together in an inn, their mutual desire proves too strong. The secretary and the gentleman succumb to lust. But when Ezra’s old flame reappears and the cousin’s experiments go awry, it’s a battle to discover which will win the day: love or lunacy.
Review: A half-truth, some misleading statements, and an inference made based in a self-serving red herring are the cause of friction between Ezra Seton and Robert Demme, and author Summer Devon uses it to its best effect in the suspicion and baiting that leads to the budding sexual tension between two men in her new book, The Private Secretary.
If you like a good historical romance that pulls together some of the genre’s most reliable tropes, this is that novel—the man who isn’t quite the cad he’s been made out to be, the circumstances by which society demanded gay men live and love, the man who is on the verge of homelessness and is willing to take on any available job to keep a roof over his head. Even a job that puts him in close proximity to the one person he hated before they’d even been formally introduced. The Private Secretary may not reinvent the historical romance wheel, but it doesn’t need to because Devon has created characters with personality and charm, which is an ideal counter to what might otherwise seem a somewhat familiar storyline.
Ezra is one small step from utter desperation when he accepts a job that puts him in close quarters with the man he holds responsible for costing him a lover and thus, bringing misery and woe to his life, but it’s his new employer, Ambrose McBean, who proves to be the most interesting of this cast of characters. Ambrose might be called a man of considerable eccentricities, though in this story’s 19th century setting, he’s considered by many to be more than a little insane. Today, we might say he’s on the Autism Spectrum. At any rate, Ambrose is much more than his idiosyncrasies, and I grew to love his participation in this story—he’s a bit of a scene stealer, to be honest—and I couldn’t help but feel a huge amount of sympathy for his backstory. Ambrose becomes the common denominator in Ezra and Robert’s connection as they focus their energies on keeping him centered, and on focusing his considerable intellect on his beloved project. When he got his happy ending, I was giddy about it—I might even have been happier about it than Ezra and Robert’s, to be honest, but then again, I’ve always been a sucker for the character who has to overcome personal obstacles to find love.
If you’re familiar with this author’s work, including her co-written books with Bonnie Dee, you’ll get exactly what you expect from The Private Secretary—a well written and diverting historical romance with a little conflict, some undeniable wanting of the lustful variety, and a happy ending that suits the setting. With the added bonus of Ambrose McBean, of course, whom I adored—just in case you didn’t get that.
You can buy The Private Secretary here: