The Official Description: On Christmas Eve, Dylan, the man of James Pell-Charnley’s dreams, is on the point of walking out. Then they hear the faint strains of a waltz in the library of the empty abbey. The music is said to be heard only by those truly in love and it gives James the courage to tell Dylan the story.
In December 1841, Lord Hugo Pell-Charnley is in a terrible mess. The youngest son of the late Marquis, youngest brother of the incumbent, never felt to fit. When his life comes crashing down, and his life and his family are threatened, he is forced to face his elder brother and confess his deepest secret. When he arrives at Winsford Abbey he finds he must also confront the shame from his past in the form of Lyndon Cross. The boy he’d loved but betrayed in school.
As they clear the ghosts from the past, they dance in each other’s arms in the library to the soft strains of the waltz, but long-buried secrets threaten to destroy their happiness.
Two hundred years later, can those dances long-forgotten give James and Dylan the courage to hold on to love?
Length: 35,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
A knock on the door froze him. Who in God’s name would be wanting entry to the damned library at this hour?
Before he could respond, it opened, and Lyndon Cross stepped over the threshold and closed the door behind him.
Hugo had no idea what to say. He just stared. Mouth quite probably hanging open.
“I hope you don’t mind me following you,” Cross said. His voice should have been like a chorus of angels given the way he looked, but it was deep, quiet, and had a warm, raspy quality to it that brushed against Hugo’s skin. It always had. Even as a boy it had power, but as a man it wrapped its way all around him.
“Not at all.”
Cross walked towards him, and Hugo had to fight to remain in place and not bolt for the door.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect.”
Hugo frowned. “Beg pardon?”
“I wasn’t sure if you’d want to speak to me.”
“Ah, why wouldn’t I?” Hugo was genuinely bewildered for a moment, but then Cross raised an eyebrow; tilted his head.
No…no…no… He isn’t going to mention it…surely to God? It was something that Hugo had expunged from memory.
“Do you remember my last day?”
Hugo nodded; eyes wide. He is. Dear, sweet God, he is going to mention it.
Hugo felt as though someone was squeezing him all over, making it hard to think or breathe, as he recalled that last day vividly to memory.
He’d heard that Lyndon was leaving the school, from the gossip that periodically rippled through the school. It was as though someone had ripped his heart from his chest. He’d followed him through the building, completely unable to speak to him, tell him how desperate he felt. At the end, he’d hidden in the grand hall and watched Lyndon walk across it to meet his parents waiting in the carriage on the drive. No-one else was about. It was his last chance to say something, but the words stuck in his throat.
Lyndon, by some strange twist, paused by the door, looked around, and spotted him lurking by the grandfather clock. He’d hesitated, whilst Hugo’s heart hung suspended in his chest, and then he’d run to him. Run back into the hall. He’d thrown his arms around Hugo, held him tight for a moment, then kissed him on the cheek. He’d been about to run back when Hugo grabbed him. Actually grabbed him and kissed him full on the mouth.
In his dreams, Hugo liked to think Lyndon had returned the kiss, in a closed mouthed, inexpert way, with his arms tight about him. In reality, he wasn’t too sure. Lyndon had stared for a moment, then run back to his parents.
That had been ten years ago, and now, the first boy he’d kissed stood before him. Hugo wasn’t sure if he’d come to exact retribution and expose him. Well, if he was here to do that, he’d need to get in line.
Just the facts: Gay characters, part historical gay romance, part current time.
A lovely twist of two tales of love – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: At the beginning of this book, James Pell-Charnley has just closed up the estate. He finds Dylan in the Library. Dylan has been working for him for a very long time…and sadly… he said “No” the only time James asked if they could be more to one another. What awaits him that night isn’t at all what he expects. Dylan says he is resigning. Just at that moment, the two men hear a mysterious waltz coming from somewhere in Winsford Abbey.
James then persuades Dylan that he needs to hear a secret story: a story that has only been told to certain men in his family over the decades.
At this point, the story switches to the tale of Lord Hugo Pell-Charnley. It’s 1841 and he too is arriving at the Abbey because he needs his brother’s help. He’s found himself in a terrible situation. The fact that he is gay has been found out…he’s being blackmailed. It just isn’t a time during which men and women can have same-sex partners without being arrested… and socially ruining their families.
While at the Abbey, Hugo is reunited with a friend from school… Lyndon Cross. Hugo betrayed Lyndon at school. Both boys were bullied for being “different”… and in spite of the fact that Hugo already had feelings for Lyndon, there were many occasions when he would side with the bullies so that he could feel the relief of not being their target.
There are many secrets in this novella…all of them are interesting and some of them really surprised me! I love being surprised. There is definitely a thread of mystery running throughout this entire novella and it’s a pleasure to get to the end to untangle it all.
This book is just as much about family as it is about romantic love. There are several relationships in this book that are prevented from coming to fruition by rules or societal norms. The feelings and emotions are sweet and sad and the writing is very lyrical. This is romance at its finest.
The supporting characters in this book are just as interesting as the man characters. Most of the novella is set in the past and explains the beginnings of a haunting and a family tale of love. Surprisingly, in the short time the modern characters are in this novella, I found that they were written in such a way that I was invested in them.
The world of Winsford Abbey in the past is richly developed. I loved the description of the ball at the house and I was completely caught up in the world of the past. Moone is a great writer, able to transport readers anywhere and with finesse. Moone’s books never disappoint and this novella is no exception.
This was absolutely enjoyable, and I loved the Christmas timing of the story.
Readalikes: Other similar reads you might like:
- Bite by Clare London, Ruby Moone
- The Lion and the Crow by Eli Easton
- Blood Is Forever by Asta Idonea, Nicki J. Markus
My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head…he probably has a point!
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I received an ARC of Dances Long Forgotten by Ruby Moone via Signal Boost Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.