Lucien Saxby is a journalist, writing for the society pages. The Honourable Aubrey Fanshawe, second son of an earl, is Society. They have nothing in common, until a casual encounter leads to a crisis.
Aubrey isn’t looking for love. He already has it, in his long-term clandestine relationship with Lord and Lady Hernedale. And Lucien is the last man Aubrey should want. He’s a commoner, raised in service, socially unacceptable.
Lucien doesn’t trust nobs. Painful experience has taught him that working people simply don’t count to them. Years ago, he turned his back on a life of luxury so his future wouldn’t depend on an aristocrat’s whim. Now, thanks to Aubrey, he’s becoming entangled in the risky affairs of the upper classes, antagonising people who could destroy him with a word.
Aubrey and Lucien have too much to hide—and too much between them to ignore. Rejecting the strict rules and closed doors of Edwardian society might lead them both to ruin… but happiness and integrity alike demand it.
Behind These Doors – A-
Wow, I have never enjoyed 300 pages of relationship negotiations so much??
I went into this having completely forgotten and/or not read the book blurb, so I was delightfully surprised when in the very first scene Aubrey’s committed thruple with the Hernedales is made explicit in the characters’ introductions. I love non-monogamous books but I’m not sure I’ve read a romance that starts with a committed polyamorous relationship and adds to it rather than having forming a poly relationship be the core of the story. Lucien shows up soon after the book starts, and when Aubrey is clearly responding to his bold flirtation, the Hernedales encourage him to run after this dashing stranger who caught his eye.
The book is a wonderful exploration of vulnerability and trust in relationships as Aubrey and Lucien commit to each other. There are mistakes and stumbles along the way, but without drawing it out too much all of them come back to discussion and negotiation. There are moments where the tension is all because one or the other won’t explain a situation, but while on the surface that sounds like the contrived miscommunication that hounds the mediocre romance novel, here it’s very effective in drawing from each character’s motivations, personal history, and social position. It’s relatable, in that there are things someone may not feel safe voicing even if they should and even if the reader knows they would be okay, and that’s very well done in this book.
Ultimately I am a reader who loves a plot, and this book never quite got there (though there’s some interesting through lines about women’s suffrage), and the book ended a bit abruptly. It’s certainly a HFN, but I was expecting a bit more to wrap it up. However, like I said, I have never enjoyed just reading relationship negotiations so much. I really couldn’t put this book down, and I’m amazed that this is the first full length novel from this author – I hope there are more soon!
Behind These Doors on Amazon