Book: The Private Secretary
Publisher: Kate Rothwell
Publication date: June 13, 2016
Length: 141 pages
Reviewed by Meredith
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 what he expected. Still, he vows to keep his distance, no matter how difficult it is to maintain his composure.
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 of his own interest.
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.
This edition includes a selection from Simon and the Christmas Spirit, a title by Summer Devon and Bonnie Dee.
A few days after he’d found the secretary up a ladder, Robert was cautiously optimistic. He paused outside the study door to listen to his cousin’s monotonous droning and the new secretary’s pencil scratching on a pad. God knew Robert was fond enough of his cousin, but when they were between secretaries, Ambrose expected him to take those notes and fetch scraps for the vermin. And maybe, if this one worked out, Robert might be able to get away more often, or even hold a party—one without Ambrose.
Though he was well used to Ambrose and his quirks, anytime someone visited their home, Robert had to stop himself from apologizing for the awkwardness created by Ambrose’s pronouncements and occasional fits. Always a good lesson to remember that he mustn’t care for the world’s good opinion.
The invitations to dine and to balls and parties remained steady even after his cousin came to live with him. To celebrate the fact that life might become more settled at last, Robert had indulged in his interest in wearing clothes that were just on the fantastical side. Velvets or a brocade vest that was out of fashion—though he didn’t consider choosing one’s own clothes a creative activity.
His parties… A pity they had to come to an end, but soon after Ambrose moved in, Robert decided that his cousin and such events didn’t mix. Robert missed that one aspect of his old life. Really, one might consider his parties works of art.
The last one on the theme of poet and muse had been entertaining, at least until Ambrose had glared at a declaiming poet and said something about how his larvae were more entertaining. That same querulous voice, Ambrose Annoyed, interrupted his thoughts as his cousin came into the library, followed by the new secretary. Alas, the smooth sailing had hit high seas. Pity that Robert would have to send this secretary packing.
Ambrose waved a trembling finger and declared, “He suggested a change to my book. To my work.” He rubbed his knuckle against his teeth, not biting yet, so he wasn’t too far gone.
Robert had learned how to help this sort of upset; a soothing voice and repetition worked well. He rose from his chair. “It’s your work and your book, Ambrose. You don’t have to change a word if you don’t want.”
“He thinks I should do more research about the time differentiation in finely ground versus coarsely chopped waste. This is a good suggestion. Yes, a good suggestion, so I shall take it.”
Robert stopped, mouth open ready to continue his usual attempts to calm Ambrose. A moment passed before he said, “Ah. Carry on, then.”
Ambrose did an about face and marched out again.
This secretary was different, and not only because he was more pleasing to the eye than the others. He worked hard and didn’t seem to object to the trays of creatures Ambrose had set up in every room. As he’d passed a room one evening, Robert had heard Ambrose laughing. The noise was so unusual, Robert had paused until he understood the secretary had said something that actually amused his cousin. Robert should do what he could to keep the man on.
Later that day, he sought out the secretary to give him advice. “It’s usually best to let him talk. No interrupting, I mean.”
The man’s eyes narrowed. Startled by the look of sheer hatred, and in such fine dark eyes as well, Robert almost took a step back. Instead, he waved a hand. “All right. Tell me why you are looking daggers at me…” He paused, searching for a name. “Seton.”
He waited for some kind of oh nothing at all, sir, I beg your pardon, sir, response and was disconcerted when the secretary challenged him. “Mr. MacBean deserves respect. His intellect is enormous.”
“Naturally, he deserves respect. He also deserves peace, and such a thing is hard-won for him.” Why was he arguing with a secretary? Because Ambrose required someone who would stay and this one had lasted more than a week, which was days longer than most. And Seton actually seemed to see under the tics and odd habits to the real Ambrose that lay beneath. He should celebrate the fact that the secretary appreciated his cousin. So Robert gave Seton a wide smile and went on. “I expect, if you can manage to get along with him, you will find your own way.”
“Manage to get along with him, sir?” The acid in his voice would have curdled milk. “I fail to understand your meaning.”
“Oh for pity’s sake—that tone! Are you so determined to dislike me?” He wondered if it could be his taste in clothing, although today he’d allowed his valet to choose his clothing. He wore a heather tweed suit, impeccable and conservative.
Apparently, Seton had wisely decided not to answer the question…although perhaps now was the time for him to protest and say he didn’t despise Mr. Demme, no, sir, not at all. Funny that he remained silent.
Robert had never before explained the Ambrose situation to previous secretaries, which might have been a mistake. It might be disloyal to his cousin, but he decided to pursue a new policy: forewarned was forearmed. Ambrose’s occasional bad behavior had shocked and driven off other employees, including Robert’s former butler. Robert took a step closer to Seton, who stepped back at once.
What was wrong with the man? Did he fear or hate Robert, and why the hell did Robert care?
I rarely read historical romance. But when Summer Devon writes one I read it. She’s one of very few authors that just does it for me in the historical department.
The Private Secretary is a lot of fun. We have this guy, Ezra, who has a rough go of things and is in need of a job. Of course he gets it and discovers that it’s for a guy he can’t stand. But, he doesn’t like him because of rumors he's heard from a very close person in his life. We, as humans, tend to dislike people who wrong our friends and loved ones. It’s some sort of support.
When Ezra steps foot into Robert’s home to be the secretary for his cousin Ambrose that’s when the fun begins. Ambrose is “eccentric” but in modern times he’d be autistic no question. He requires a lot of assistance with his book on bugs. *shivers* As the book progresses we meet a wonderful ensemble, discover that word of mouth isn’t always truth, and we fall in love… err we watch others fall in love.
When I read this, like when I read other gay historical romances, I see how relationships were, how society was, and just the everyday... It blows my mind. I know I couldn’t have lived in that time. How Robert and Ezra need to keep quiet about their love… it breaks my heart. But they are smart and they make it work and it’s wonderful.
Summer Devon is masterful with historical romance and this one is amazing.
One person will win a backlist ebook from Summer Devon
(You may select one she's written with Bonnie Dee)
Contest ends June 26th
Please enter the rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway