Think of England by KJ Charles
Captain Archie Curtis has accepted an invitation to spend a fortnight visiting his uncle's old school friend, Sir Hubert Armstrong, at his very isolated and very modern country estate. It is the fall of 1904, and only two years prior, Curtis was severely injured and lost several friends in a horrific military accident. He can't seem to shake the feeling that the accident was not an unfortunate incident, but sabotage.
Daniel da Silva is a poet who has also accepted an invitation to spend a fortnight visiting the Armstrongs. Daniel is sarcastic, aloof, and quite obviously queer.
Curtis is investigating his theories of sabotage and treason, and it turns out that Daniel is also pursuing some secret information. Although the two men appear to clash when they first meet, as the story unfolds they realize they have a shared desire for information. They also realize they share an incredible amount of sexual tension.
The two men find themselves drawn to each other while at the same time uncovering a trail of blackmail, treason, and murder. The reader gets to watch the romance between Curtis and Daniel unfold while also getting to know the other guests at the Armstrong estate, and realizing that things are not always as they appear.
So, obviously this is a romance between two men. Up until now, my only experience with romance has been the (amazing, fabulous) author, Sarah MacLean. She writes regency romance between a man and woman - and I've loved everything she's written! I'm fairly new to the genre and quite happy I decided to give it a try. I had been snobbishly avoiding romance and am pleased to discover that it can have strong characters (both male and female) and some real depth.
I was really curious how the romance element to the story was going to play out between two men. Honestly, it read very similar to other romances I've read, only obviously the sex scenes had a slightly different feel. It was refreshing and really well written. The romance follows the familiar formula - two characters meet and at first it seems like they dislike each other, attraction unfolds, there's a conflict where it seems like they may not end up together, but they all live happily ever after. This is the romance formula, yes? I absolutely loved both Daniel and Curtis. Great characters, fully developed, and incredibly interesting. There was more to them than meets the eye, and I don't just mean their sexual preferences. (Well, the reader knows that Daniel is gay right from the get go, Curtis takes a little more time to unfold.)
The male/male element to the story made this different than other romances I've read. However, the bigger difference was the fast-paced tale of blackmail and murder. There's a lot going on in this story! The romance part was really well written, but I think the circumstances under which Daniel and Curtis find themselves working together are even more interesting. Aside from all the romantic stuff, there's an incredibly interesting storyline being told with all the corrupt stuff happening in this country estate. As excited as I was to see the progression of Curtis and Daniel's attraction, I was equally excited to find out what was really going on under the elegant facade in the Armstrong estate.
If you have preconceived ideas about romance novels (as I certainly did), I highly suggest you give Think of England a try. It's not what I was expecting and I absolutely loved it!