Book Reviews

Duty to the Crown (Crofton Chronicles 2) by Rebecca Cohen at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Romance
Reviewed by Lena Grey on 17-August-2014

Book Blurb

Despite the uncomfortable clothing and the gossip at court, Sebastian Hewel is still enjoying the role of Lady Bronwyn, wife of Earl Anthony Crofton. But when Queen Elizabeth asks a favor of Anthony, Sebastian’s world fractures and his heart threatens to break. The Queen wants Anthony to seduce Marie Valois, the beautiful daughter of a French noble, to discover the whereabouts of her father, who is wanted by the King of France.

Sebastian knows Anthony can’t refuse the Queen, especially since he has something of a reputation at court. But the situation is further complicated when Marie meets Sebastian without his disguise—and starts flirting with him. Her brother, Nicholas, arrives at Crofton Hall, not happy that his sister has been linked to a man like Anthony, only to find his own head turned by Lady Bronwyn and her acerbic wit. Contending with the attentions of both siblings—and a very jealous Anthony—would be bad enough. But then Sebastian’s uncle demands Sebastian and Anthony stage Bronwyn’s death to avoid discovery….

A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.

Sequel to The Actor and the Earl


Book Review

“You can dance...with the guy who gives you the eye, let him hold you tight. You can smile...for the man who held your hand 'neath the pale moonlight… just don't forget who's taking you home and in whose arms you're gonna be. So darlin', save the last dance for me.” ~ The Drifters

When the Queen orders Lord Anthony Crofton of 'Duty to the Crown' by Rebecca Cohen, to seduce Marie, the daughter of a French nobleman, in order to discover the whereabouts of her father, Anthony doesn't know what to do. He knows Sebastian will be upset, but no one says no to the Queen. He reasons that if he can just explain it to Sebastian saying that he only has to pretend to seduce her, Sebastian will understand. When Nicholas, Marie's brother, shows up, he quickly becomes besotted with Anthony's wife Brownyn and decides to try to seduce her. At the same time, Marie meets Sebastian as himself and shifts her attention from Anthony to him. Anthony's pride is hurt and the tables are turned with him having to watch his lover pretend to pursue Marie. When Marie's brother Nicholas takes an interest in Sebastian as well it's almost too much for him to bear. Poor Sebastian becomes exhausted trying to fight off unwanted attention from both brother and sister, yet having to pretend to be interested in them at the same time.

Sebastian is not only angry, but hurt when Anthony notifies him of the Queen's edict, he's hurt. He tries to explain to his lover how watching Anthony seduce someone else is going to affect him, but Anthony, dense as always, doesn't get it. He can't understand why it bothers Sebastian when he knows that Anthony is just pretending to seduce her, not actually doing so. When Anthony has to notify the Queen that he's failed to gain Marie's favor, she orders Bronwyn to do her duty and accept the attentions of Marie's brother, Nicholas instead. Anthony doesn't handle the situation with anywhere near the grace that Sebastian does, demonstrating which one has the highest degree of maturity and perception. Unfortunately, Sebastian, as Bronwyn, is having an increasingly hard time keeping Nicholas at bay. He's becoming an insufferable cad who is determined to possess Brownyn regardless of the consequences.

Anthony doesn't do at all well with Nicholas paying so much attention to Brownyn; in fact, he's insufferably jealous and behaves exactly as he had instructed Sebastian not to act when they first discussed his seduction of Marie. Marie's rejection of him and her interest in Sebastian does not help the situation since Anthony is not used to being turned down. He shows his possessive streak to the fullest, when he challenges Nicholas to a duel for kissing Brownyn. It does not end well. Nicholas leaves under the worst of circumstances, scorned and beaten, at least for the moment. It's the perfect storm, begging for revenge, especially in someone like Nicholas, who is also not used to being told no.

Although my review touches on most of the highlights of the story, there are still other unexpected twists and turns, some pleasant, and others diabolical. I was impressed with Rebecca' skill enabling her to show Anthony and Sebastian's character growth. Anthony, although still clueless at times, makes great progress anticipating and accommodating Sebastian’s needs. No longer does he make all the decisions by himself, he steadily grows to value Sebastian's opinions and, at times, even defers to his greater expertise. Sebastian has also made great strides. In the beginning, he accepted Anthony's commands without argument. He is now quick to challenge him when he thinks Anthony is wrong and voices his disapproval at Anthony treating him as a child. Sebastian is more and more coming into his own, even taking command of certain situations and Anthony is loving it.

I recommend this book to fans of the first story, 'The Actor and the Earl', and to those who are new to the 'Crofton Chronicles' as well. However, this is book two and the series needs to be read in sequential order to sufficiently grasp the gist of things. If you like historical romance with all the secrecy, political intrigue, danger, and suspense, you will enjoy this book. Thanks, Rebecca, for allowing me to visit with Antony and Sebastian in their path to happiness.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 210 pages/61256 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 04-March-2013
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
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