The Official Description: As a young man, Sir Gabriel Winters left behind his status as a gentleman, turning his back on his secret desires and taking a self-imposed vow of celibacy. Now he’s a chaste, hardworking vicar, and his reputation is beyond reproach. But, try as he might, he’s never forgotten the man he once desired or the pain of being abandoned by his first love.
Edward Stanhope, the Duke of Caddonfell, is a notorious rake, delighting in scandal no matter the consequence. With a price on his head, he flees to the countryside, forced to keep his presence a secret or risk assassination. When Edward finds Gabriel on his estate, burning with fever, he cannot leave him to die, but taking him in puts them both in jeopardy.
With the help of a notorious blackmailer, a society of rich and famous gentlemen who prefer gentlemen, and a kitten named Buttons, they might just manage to save Edward’s life—but the greatest threat may be to their hearts.
Just the facts: M/M historical romance, mystery, and a lovely kitten named Buttons!
Reverend Gabriel dedicated himself to being a vicar to overcome his unacceptable desires. But when he meets up with his childhood friend, and finds he is needed… all his hidden feelings return full force. – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: The Vicar and the Rake is a very steamy historical, gay romance. Gabriel gave up his life of luxury and his very illicit desires to become a Reverend. He’s dedicated to his work and has undertaken a personal vow of celibacy. He can live with the fact that he desires men… or one man in particular… if he can just not act upon it.
When Edward, Duke of Caddonfell returns to his unhappy childhood home, he discovers Gabriel lying in his garden overcome by illness. Thrust back into each other’s lives, these two men must both deal with the desire they have for each other and the fact that the society they live in doesn’t allow for them to be together. Things are further complicated by the fact that Edward is in a rather large heap of trouble.
Primarily, this story is about Gabriel and Edward and the fact that both of them have past issues that need to be resolved. Edward had a terrible childhood that was full of pain and he has survived that by making certain that he doesn’t fall into relationships with people. He doesn’t want to be emotionally connected to anyone, nor does he want to be vulnerable.
Gabriel loved Edward when they were young… and Edward left. Gabriel had thought he had lost his opportunity to be with the man who he was so enamored with when they were young. He’s intelligent enough to know that there are things in Edward’s past that he doesn’t understand and he sees that Edward is trying to push him away.
The intrigue in this story revolves around Edward’s battle with the Duke of Sussex. The Duke wants Edward’s life because he was caught unawares while entangled with the Duke’s son. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that! The mystery is set up well and unravels at a pleasant pace. There are more than enough clues dropped to keep the reader interested.
Edward was a lovely character. I thought the author did a wonderful job of conveying the way that his painful childhood had affected his life as an adult. He was guarded but honest with himself which is a refreshing combination.
This book is the beginning of a series based on the Society of Beasts. This is the secret social group of Edward and his friends. All of the men who attend the club are hiding their proclivities as the social norms of the time demand. The friendships between these men are well-written, after all, it seems that they are only able to be completely honest with one another. That would create a remarkable bond between people.
This is a solid romance, heavy on the steamy side with a great ending!
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) A character remembers abuse in childhood, physical scars from physical abuse when a character was a child, a character is shot, a character passes out due to illness, a character is drugged, attempted murder, a character is knocked unconscious, characters are trapped in a house fire, a supporting character dies due to physical assault in the presence of her child.
I received an ARC of The Vicar and The Rake by Annabelle Greene from Carina Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.