Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
Length: 66,000 words approx.
A tale set in Stuart England, where the king’s life depends on his most loyal of subjects.
Anthony Redbourn, Earl of Crofton, delights in his reputation as a charming rogue. Life is never quiet at the court of King James I, especially with his good friend and secret lover, Sebastian Hewel, by his side. As an actor with the celebrated King’s Men, Sebastian has his own admirers, but neither man has eyes for anyone else.
When a plot against His Majesty is uncovered it threatens Anthony and Sebastian’s charmed lives, and they are dragged into the political intrigue and the race to save the king from danger. Fear that a traitor is linked to the King's Men leaves Sebastian and Anthony with no choice but to stage a very public dissolution of their friendship, so Anthony can be free to be the patron of a new rising actor, and Sebastian can be the prodigy of another noble.
It is a dangerous game they are playing to expose the plotters and still find a way to meet in secret, as Anthony is adamant that they will not sacrifice the love they have fought so hard to win. They will do whatever it takes to protect the king’s life, and their commitment to each other.
As historical romances go, Rebecca Cohen’s novel, Anthony, Earl of Crofton has an air of authenticity in both the setting, the language and the mannerisms of the day. If you like court intrigue then this novel is a must read. When Anthony Redbourn, the Earl of Crofton, is approached to help spring a trap and discover who is about to commit the treasonous act of murdering King James never does he think it will directly impact his clandestine relationship with the celebrated actor of the day, Sebastian Hewel.
Anthony is Sebastian’s sponsor, introducing him to court, dressing him in the finer fashion of the day and supporting the arts by investing in the theatre and the acting company called, The Kings Men. He is also Sebastian’s lover and has gone through many hoops and machinations to make it so. But in order to discover who all is involved in the plot to overthrow King James the two lovers must stage a falling out so that both are free to find others who may reveal their hand in the treachery. They do so grudgingly, knowing that their love can stand the test, but not realizing just how dangerous it will be.
Author Rebecca Cohen weaves a tantalizing mystery offset with the secret affair between her two men, Anthony and Seb. Their intimate moments are hurried and sensual and they fit seamlessly into the plot she has developed. I do wish we had been given a bit more background on Seb and Anthony’s relationship especially since little tidbits are dropped in the story about the time that Seb disguised himself as his twin sister and actually appeared married to Anthony. I’m not sure how they managed to pull that one off and not enough information was given to let the reader understand just what occurred.
It was little moments like these that kept the story from feeling complete to me. I liked the court intrigue and the subterfuge Anthony and Seb kept up concerning their love for each other but I must say that beginning the novel by dropping the reader down into the middle of an established relationship such as theirs and not getting a full picture of how it all began was a bit disappointing. It felt as though we missed some of the story somehow. Still as historical romances go one cannot fault the author for making it as authentic as possible.
Anthony, Earl of Crofton was a good story—one that I would love to see turn into a series where these two become the king’s spies at court. It was an entertaining novel and the chemistry between Seb and Anthony was exciting, making it a delightful romance as well as a solid mystery.
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