Book: The Masterpiece
Publication date: June 13, 2017
Length: 202 pages
Reviewed by Meredith
Built from the bottom up: one perfect gentleman.
Man about town Arthur Lawton spends his days pursuing entertainment while shoeshine Joe Sprat labors to better his family’s lives. When an argument about nature versus nurture sparks a wager, Arthur swears to a friend he can turn this working man into a gentleman who will pass at a society function.
Joe is happy to participate in the experiment for a fee but receives more than he bargained for after moving into Lawton’s house. Arthur is determined Joe won’t merely wear a veneer of sophistication but educates him in every way. As he creates his new and improved man, Arthur grows more deeply infatuated with him, while Joe falls equally hard for his charismatic mentor.
Underneath a growing friendship, desire simmers and one day explodes. After their relationship escalates, the pair exists in a dream bubble until the threat of exposure sharply reminds them they belong in different worlds. When the ball is over, each must resume his own life, changed by their encounter but destined for different courses.
Find out if love is strong enough to bridge the gap between peer and pauper in this twist on the tale of My Fair Lady.
It’s truly hard not to fall in love with this book. I am a huge fan of the movie My Fair Lady. When I saw in the author’s notes that this is an M/M version of that movie, I knew I had to read it. The main characters here are Arthur and Joe. Arthur is upper-class and Joe is absolutely not.
It all begins with a bet Arthur and his best friend Granville make. Make Joe Sprat into an upstanding citizen able to bump elbows with socialites, Lords, and Lady’s and get invites to amazing affairs. Arthur’s job was to make it happen. Joe of course needs the money and genuinely likes Arthur so it’s all a go.
Now, it does have a happy ending but before that you deal with amazing romantic suspense and angst. It’s a time (1909) where homosexuality isn’t really accepted so you always have that haunting fear lingering, but Bonnie Dee never fails to pull us through it. She writes outstanding historical romances and in The Masterpiece she lives up to all the expectations.
You may have never read a historical and you’d still love this book. If you’re a huge fan of them then this is one you have to read.
This book was everything I hoped and so much more.
Arthur studied his companion, who gazed in awe at the statuary. Lips parted and eyes wide, Joe gave a soft whistle. “Beautiful! Like frozen angels they are. Surprises me that naked people can be on display with nobody complaining about decency.” He clicked his tongue when he noticed the missing cock on the thickly muscled athlete who wore a winner’s olive wreath and little else. “Poor chap. Who did that to you?”
“Some jealous competitor, no doubt,” Arthur joked.
They both moved closer to stare up into blank white eyes.
Arthur’s attention drifted from the statue’s face to its other attributes. The shoulders, chest, and torso were banded with muscle. The legs were thick and strong and the feet firmly planted; the stocky body of a wrestler rather than a lean and elegant patrician like the toga-clad fellow next to him. Arthur imagined some long-ago man posing for a sculptor and wondered if the artist’s model remained after the session for some private grappling. It would’ve been much easier to lie with men in ancient Greece when such attraction was taken in stride.
“A shame,” Joe said. “All those missing heads and arms and so forth. How wonderful it would’ve been to see them when they were new.”
“Indeed.” Arthur willed his own heated erection to diminish before Joe noticed the bulge. Shameful of him to grow lusty over fine art and to imagine how Joe’s body might compare to the Grecian wrestler’s. But a sideways look informed Arthur that Joe was also aroused. His linen trousers were too light a material to mask his growing interest.
Arthur glanced up and met Joe’s gaze. There was no denying their desire wasn’t prompted by a bare-breasted woman clutching an urn. The proof of what they both craved stood before them—a masculine figure carved in solid marble.
All pretense of disinterest fled. Finally acknowledging the truth was like throwing kerosene on a simmering bed of coals. The attraction Arthur had fought against since the day Joe entered his life blazed into an inferno. Liquid heat filled every throbbing particle of his body. If he didn’t grab hold of Joe and kiss him that very second, he might explode.
Arthur looked around the gallery. The room was empty of living people. There wasn’t even a docent patrolling the exhibit. But Arthur wasn’t fool enough to take advantage of their temporary solitude near what was usually one of the busier displays. He grabbed Joe’s arm and tugged. “Come.”
They walked. Then trotted. Then raced toward a secluded corner of the museum Arthur had in mind, a perfect place for trysts, used by more than one couple over the years. Heedless, excitement poured through him in waves. He hadn’t felt this gleeful or wild since he was a boy pulling pranks with his mates. He looked over at Joe, who grinned back at him.
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