Friday 13 July 2018

A Discovering Diamonds Review of That Deplorable Boy by Jasper Barry

AMAZON US $5.58  

Romance - LGBT / Fictional saga
late 19th Century

Following on from the first volume, The Second Footman, of this trilogy Max Fabien has now been secretary and lover of his master, Armand, marquis de Miremont, for a year. Their affair, discreet, yet intense is nevertheless stretched at times: Armand, the much older man, is overcome with jealousies swiftly followed by regrets and apologies; Max is young, astonishingly handsome and prone to attract the attentions of  people his own age of either sex.

When Armand's estranged wife, Aline and their younger daughter, Juliette, descend upon Armand's chateau, the place becomes chaotic as Aline insists on taking over: their daughter is about to come of age and only the best will do for her. This is where we really find out just how weak a man Armand is as Aline walks all over him and Juliette twirls him around her little finger. Max looks on stoically, but his downfall looks imminent when he spurns Juliette's unwanted advances – despite her recent engagement.

There is a lot to be commended in this book: the narrative is impeccable and always in keeping with the era; the characters are so well written that you want to strangle Aline almost from her initial entrance, Juliette is little better and you switch your feelings towards Armand from sympathy to disdain and back again. Throughout all this, Max remains the perfect gentleman, yet he has his own demons to deal with. You also tend to feel sorry for him as events conspire against him; yet, at the same time, you question his motives, his ambitions and his love for Armand.

It is a story of the trials of love, suspicions and jealousies, breaking up and making up, liars and thieves, charlatans and wastrels.

The pace picks up a lot at about the halfway stage, though in my view it was somewhat pedestrian prior to that, over filled with Armand's doubts, jealousies and accusations and Max's repudiations and reassurances. There are a few references to the back story until quite close to the end when Max makes a discovery and this rather leads the reader away from the main story. As with any series, I think it would be beneficial to read the books in order. At over 400 pages, I found it a little long and that may put potential readers off as the 'entertainment' and the action doesn't really start until Aline and Juliette arrive on the scene.

The cover well depicts the enigmatic Max, although the yellow font is a little hard to read, especially at thumbnail size.

© Richard Tearle

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