Arthur Fitch clawed his way out of the violence and poverty of the slums of London to become a valet to the aristocracy. His ambition to secure a higher position led him to a disastrous appointment with a cold, brutal man, and when things come to a head, Arthur is forced to flee into a snowstorm to find safety.
Joseph Wilkinson is the Winsford Green blacksmith. He has a good life, good friends, owns a thriving business, but at the end of the day when he goes home, loneliness consumes him. When he stumbles upon a small man determinedly trudging through the snowstorm, he invites him into his home to shelter.
Arthur Fitch is older, smart-mouthed, and as prickly as hell. But, as Joe peels back the layers, he discovers a warm, funny, vulnerable man whose tastes in the bedchamber leave Joe gasping and desperate for more. Trouble is, having found the real Arthur Fitch, how can he convince him that life in a small town can be infinitely better than working for an Earl? That love really is possible for people like them? Particularly when Arthur’s past catches up with him in horrifying fashion.
Joe is immensely likable. Hard working, kind, rugged, and handsome, Joe is the blacksmith of everyone's fantasies. Wait. Not everyone has blacksmith fantasies? Hmmm ... you're missing out, my friends.
Arthur, who's more than a decade Joe's senior, is harder to like. Self-contained, fussy, detached, Arthur likes to be in control in all ways but one. Arthur doesn't give in to his emotions, but there's something about Joseph that awakens his basest desires, and Joe plays Arthur's game beautifully.
People Like Us is full of feels. Arthur's abuse at the hands of a cruel lord, first witnessed in book one, made me rage, while his insecurity and shame, not to mention Joe's loneliness, made me want to weep. I expected that.
What I didn't expect is the humour (the scene toward the end where everyone gathers in Joe's shop had me literally LOLing) and sexiness (my, oh my, but the steam was strong in this one!). I'm not a BDSM fan, but the light (spanking, restraints) D/s overtones in this book are sexy AF. Arthur is such a bad, bad boy.
While this book can be read as a standalone, I loved seeing Hugo and Lyndon again. Indeed, Lord Hugo's brother, the Marquis of Winsford, plays a role in this story. His kindness toward Arthur, indeed the way all the town folks gathered around Arthur, made my heart sing.
This review wouldn't be complete without a shout-out to Miss Buttle and Mrs. Dandridge, the greatest friends, accomplices, cake-bakers, and matchmakers of all time.
I am desperately waiting for Eddie's story because Eddie must get a story, right?
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