“How does one start a relationship with another man when it is forbidden?” “One needs to decide that the other man is worth dying for.”
Sir Evan Penhart. Baronet. Highwayman. Scoundrel.
Julian Reece. Writer. Wastrel. Penniless.
No one forces Julian Reece to marry. Not his father, not his brother. No one.
When he is thrust into a carriage heading for London to meet his future bride, his way out comes in the form of an imposing highwayman, riding a horse as black as night. Julian makes a deal with the criminal, but what he doesn’t expect is that despite the title of baronet, the robber turns out to be no gentleman.
Sir Evan Penhart is pushed into crime out of desperation, but the pact with a pretty, young merchant’s son turns out to have disastrous consequences. Not only is Evan left broke, but worse yet, Julian opens up a Pandora’s box of passions that are dark, needy, and too wild to tame. With no way to lock them back in, rash decisions and greedy desire lead to a tide that wrecks everything in its way.
But Julian might actually like all the sinful, carnal passion unleashed on him. How can he admit this though, even to himself, when a taste of the forbidden fruit could have him end up with a noose around his neck? And with highway robbery being a hanging offense and the local constable on their back, Julian could lose Evan before he can decide anything about the nature of his desires.
Themes: highwayman, abduction, ransom, forbidden love, self-discovery, danger, crime, Genre: Dark romance, historical Erotic content: Explicit scenes
Length: ~140,000 words (standalone novel)
WARNING: Adult content. Contains violence, distressing scenes, abuse, offensive language, and morally ambiguous protagonists.
Giddy <<< That's me, after reading this book. The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple was everything I could have asked for, and more. Deliciously passionate and sometimes a little brutal and uncertain, but always fabulous and I could not stop reading, once I picked it up.
Julian Reece is a writer, but his father prefers the term "wastrel" and is done with supporting his son's drinking and whoring, since Julian refuses to work for the family's fabric business. Julian is such a free-spirit, really, and at 25 he is nowhere near ready to marry. And though he visits a brothel quite regularly, he prefers to play poker over bedding the whores. Sex is ok, but he really hasn't figured out why people make such a big deal about it.
Sir Evan Penhart is a very broke, and reclusive, Baronet. He's been trying to keep the family estate afloat since his older brother Peter gambled away the family's fortune and drank himself to death, but well, times are tough. Evan is a desperate man, trying to make ends meet and so he figures a time or two of playing a highwayman, and maybe he can manage to pay the servants and make some long overdue repairs to his home. But Evan sure gets more than he bargained for when he stops the carriage carrying Julian Reece.
I loved everything about The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple. And I loved seeing Julian slowly figure things out. You see, he's never been attracted to another man before. But then again, he's never really been attracted to women, either. It just never occurred to him to think on why that might be, until Evan, one night, takes their charade a lot further than Julian had bargained. But the taste of what could be terrified him.
Evan's not nearly the scoundrel he pretends to be, either. He'd resigned himself to a life alone and rarely leaves his estate, and is dreadfully out of practice at socializing with anyone, let alone a lively canary, like Julian. He wants Julian from the first moment he lays eyes on the younger man, and showing restraint proves difficult, especially when Julian sends such mixed signals. And with the local Constable, Pascoe, looking for any reason at all to send Evan to gaol, and preferably the noose, Evan has had many reasons to be super careful.
Their relationship developed in a very organic way and I reveled in it. At first Julian was mortified that he felt arousal at the hands of the force of nature that is Evan. And he felt confused and ashamed. But given time, they become friends and little by little Julian came to terms with his feelings and once that Genie was let out of the bottle, there was no turning back.
I loved the historical setting. It felt authentic without being too oppressive, which less face it, would just be depressing. And though Evan's arch-nemesis, Pascoe, was bent on ruining Evan, Evan and Julian come out on top by the end -- and it was glorious.
The Black Sheep and the Rotten Apple gives us adventure, morally ambiguous heroes, a love story to die for, hawt hawt smexytimes, and a hard fought happy ending. LOVED.
ARC of The Black Sheep and The Rotten Apple was generously provided by the authors, in exchange for an honest review.
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