Book Reviews

The Pretty Gentleman by Max Fincher

Genre Gay / Historical / 19th Century / Regency / Artists/Actors/Musicians/Authors / Romance
Reviewed by Ron Fritsch on 04-March-2013

Book Blurb

Erotic sketches, a blackmail letter, a closeted aristocrat, his ambitious lover, and a sacrificial murder. Love, betrayal, deception and vengeance in Regency’s London’s art world.

George Rowlands, an aspiring young painter and apprentice to his father in the Haymarket theatre, meets Sir Henry Wallace while drawing the river at Richmond. Wallace invites George to his home in St. James’s square to draw his collection of sculpture and his good-looking valet Gregorio Franchese. Securing him a place to study painting at the Royal Academy of Arts under the eccentric Gothic painter, Henry Fuseli, George meets the mysterious John McCarther who befriends him. Meanwhile, Lady Arabella Wallace records in her diary her suspicions about her husband’s night-time absences and his ‘enthusiasm’ for his new protégé. George discovers his every move with Wallace is being watched after Wallace confesses his love for him.

Mixing history with passion and drama, and touching on the dark and erotic aspects of the all-male Royal Academy, The Pretty Gentleman is a historical thriller which explores the themes of love, power, betrayal and truth in Regency society.

Book Review

In the prologue and first pages of the first chapter of Max Fincher’s The Pretty Gentleman, we learn that George Rowlands, a young aspiring painter, is in a prison awaiting his death by hanging for supposedly killing the valet of his patron, Lord Henry Wallace.

The year is 1810. The place is Regency England.

George tells us he’s innocent. “I had done nothing wrong. I had not committed any crime, except to love a man whom I thought loved me too.”

If so, how did he end up awaiting his execution? And will he somehow escape the hangman’s noose? If he doesn’t, he says, he’ll be a sacrifice “for that most demanding of gods, Society.”

I couldn’t possibly resist reading a novel with a hook like that. And as I read, I found myself whipping through the pages to find out what comes next.

The Pretty Gentleman is a wonderfully intricate novel. Knowing the entirely sympathetic but not flawless protagonist is awaiting his drop through the trap door of the gallows into nothingness made me suspect every other character of being the villain—or perhaps one of a party of villains.

So Fincher greatly entertained me even as he brought me face-to-face with sober reality. In the world of this story, where fortune and title rule, but same-sex intimacy is strictly forbidden, a lord craving it can pose as the patron of a man who shares his desire but lacks his money and position—if they keep the true nature of their relationship a dark secret.

When the possibility of the lord’s exposure arises, what sort of man would go so far to prevent it as to let his latest “protégé” be hanged?

For those who read for the enjoyment of a well-told tale and yet wish to ponder deeper matters along the way, I highly recommend The Pretty Gentleman.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been purchaed by the reviewer.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 405 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 16-September-2012
Price $2.99 ebook
Buy Link