Wednesday, June 23

Ann Herendeen: Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander

Seeking both escape from her overbearing mother and the freedom society only awards to a married woman, a young authoress accepts a proposal from a wealthy sodomite. She will not interfere with his chosen lifestyle while providing him with an heir, he will allow her to continue writing gothic novels and gift her with a small estate of her own on the birth of a son.
What neither of them anticipates is the development of genuine affection and the young woman’s erotic response to her husband’s homosexual behaviour. She welcomes his lover into their life and all seems set for a happy ever after-until a blackmailer threatens to expose their arrangement.
So begins a series of deceits, each hoping to protect the other with lies that are driving them apart. And it’s not just their relationship that’s at stake. The blackmailer is a suspected French spy sending coded intelligence back to Bonaparte, using his knowledge of their illegal sodomite behaviour to protect himself.
Eventually circumstances reach a head, everything comes out into the open, the blackmailing spy gets his comeuppance and the trio discovers the true depths of their feelings for each other.
This is, to say the least, a unique twist on regency romance and it works well-up to a point. The main characters are reasonably well developed and their motivation entirely believable but from there in I didn’t find things really up to par.
Though there was the obligatory mention of Almack’s I didn’t get any real sense of the period. The quality of the dialogue was uneven; in some places it was delightful, in others abysmal. The behaviour of the men often stepped over the line from unfounded stereotype to caricature and sex in all its glorious variations was often used in place of character or plot development.
This isn’t a bad book, the story is, in fact, quite good but with a decent strong edit it could have been much, much better.
Herendeen is to be congratulated on breaking the mould but competition in the field is tough and as a regency romance this was mediocre.-Lynn

For Alex's review of Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander click here.

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