The Gentleman's Keeper
Everett Gerard returns home to confront the darkness of his past and encounters a child and a lover who may be the twin lights of his future.
Upon learning a boy with striking Gerard features has shown up at the Abbey, Everett can no longer avoid returning to the family estate where he witnessed a horrible crime as a child. But the awful, haunted place of his imagination delivers unexpected surprises and delights.
Restless traveler Miles Kenway has returned to England after spending years in Canada. The quiet duties of being the Abbey’s bailiff suit him, but his even-keeled life is disrupted by the arrival of wild child Ispial, clearly a bastard son of some Gerard. When Everett Gerard, the master of the house, comes home at last, his hot temper rouses Miles’s hot blood.
Employer and employee clash over Gerard shirking the responsibilities of his estate and the future of one uncivilized orphan. But their arguing only masks a powerful desire to grapple in more physical ways. Will giving into that desire ruin the delicate balance of master and servant? And when Ipsial’s true father appears, can the two men who’ve tamed and come to love the boy find a way to protect him?
Devon and Dee fill this expertly written gay Victorian romance with emotional tension. Well paced with realistic characters, this deep story is a must-read for fans of gay historicals.
Rainbow Reviews, Alex
This engaging period piece unfolds at a leisurely pace that is reminiscent of the word “gentleman” within its title. Its unruffled, courtly style put me in the mind of television drama narratives the like of Gosford Park, or the ever popular Downton Abbey. Thank you, Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon, for penning this “home is where the heart is” romance. “Sweet, loving, witty”
Mrs. Condit & Friends Read Books, Josie Goodreads, 5 sweet peas
One thing I wasn’t expecting though was the slight sense of humour that runs through this story, it’s quite refreshing and lifts a very good historical drama into the realms of something quite special.
Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick, 4 1/2 stars
The Gentleman’s Keeper by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon is one of the best historical romances I have read this year. The story has a rare richness and depth, and its many layers are lovingly revealed by these two talented authors.
Joyfully Reviewed, Cassie
The Gentleman’s Keeper is another sweet and enjoyable historical romance from Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon. Seeing their names on a book pretty much guarantees I’m going to like the contents.
This was an easy, sweet read that wasn’t overly emotional or too full of drama. Even the HEA was nicely done and left me with a good feeling.
Top2Bottom Reviews, Gabbi, 5 kisses
They have a knack of writing really sexy, interesting characters that live and breathe off of the written page. When it comes to writing gay historical romances, their books are definitely not to be missed.
Dear Author, Sirius, B
The settings seemed believable for the time, and it always feels to me that you do your research, but what I loved the most was the burning tension between the characters from the moment they meet.
Romance Novel News, Jennifer Porter
A romance with a great deal of heart, one that explores the meaning of family and of love. Gerard and Miles are strong characters, and their story is compelling. However, Ipsial is the star of the show, the glue that holds this family together.
Gaylist Book Reviews, Cher, B+
Just a beautiful story with so much in it that I adored. I was brought into the world the authors created and felt captivated from the first page all the way to the last.
Gerard moved to stand at the window and observe the grounds below. No wild child lurked in the gardens, but a figure was striding swiftly from the distant woods toward the manor house, a tall, broad-shouldered, rather hulking figure. Ah, that would be the bailiff, the one who wrote admonishing letters to his employer.
Gerard remembered the perfunctory interview he’d had with the man and the impression he’d gotten of utter forthrightness and capability. He’d hired Miles Kenway in London and sent him to manage the estate he refused to attend to himself. If Kenway had thought it odd his new employer didn’t meet him at the property to show him around, he didn’t display any curiosity. Perhaps he’d simply been grateful to gain employment when his own work history had so many halts and starts in it. The man apparently moved every few years and not simply from job to job. He traveled at least a hundred miles with each new position. Gerard recalled now that he’d explained it as restlessness, a streak of gypsy blood? No, he looked entirely English.
Annoyance and a strange anticipation mingled in him as he watched the looming figure draw closer. There was no doubt Kenway had seen his arrival and was coming to address him on the subject of his supposed progeny. Why did Gerard feel like a schoolboy about to be reprimanded by the headmaster, and why did a ridiculous fillip of something like eagerness make his heart beat faster? It wasn’t the prospect of making decisions about the child but had more to do with something about the powerful presence of the bailiff.
Too long with nothing intriguing in his life, he decided. Gambling and racing, boxing and dancing, sexual dalliances and alcohol—he’d indulged in every vice and amusement possible for a wealthy man. He’d cut a swath across Europe and ended the journey sated yet unfulfilled. At least this journey to his roots promised something different. Discomfort, perhaps.
Gerard quickly washed and changed after Farley arrived with the bags. He waved away his valet’s attempts to give a last shine to his shoes and hurried down to the parlor.
Miles Kenway already awaited him there, cap in hands, big muddy boots threatening to give Mrs. Billings conniptions as they tracked the carpet.
“Mr. Everett.” Kenway greeted him with a bow. “I’m glad you’ve come.”
The Yorkshire lilt coupled with something imported from Canada was easy on the ears. Gerard nearly smiled but recalled why he was there and kept his expression neutral.
“I understand I’ve become a father. Now, tell me all about the boy.” He gestured to one of the chairs. “Take a seat.”
He watched the large man fold himself and perch on the edge of a ridiculously fragile-looking chair. Apparently the receiving room was one of Father’s remodeling projects. When had the old man packed away the massive, dark pieces that used to dominate this room?
He looks like a mastiff perched on a lap dog’s cushion. Gerard suppressed his natural exuberance and maintained the gravity suitable for such an occasion. But, oh, the man’s forbidding countenance, the nose that had obviously been broken at least once, the rough-hewn features, made him want to tease. What would Kenway be like if stirred to anger? A glorious and frightening sight to behold, Gerard had no doubt. A sight he’d like to see.
Miles had met Mr. Gerard only the one time, in Gerard’s London solicitor’s office for his employment interview. He hadn’t had much time to develop an opinion of his new employer, but he was good at reading men’s characters, and he’d seen Gerard as a dissolute bounder with too much money and too little common sense.
In the intervening couple of years, Gerard had confirmed his opinion by repeatedly acting blasé about Miles’s quarterly reports or his requests for changes to be made to the estate.
Do whatever you think needs to be done, Gerard had airily responded in one of his rare personal correspondences—usually they only communicated through the solicitor. That’s why I hired you, so I don’t have to think about it.
And so Miles had trudged on, doing his duty to the best of his ability. He’d come to care for the land and its tenants. He was, to all intents and purposes, the lord of the manor, making all the decisions that Gerard should have been making. Worse still, the landowner’s father had directed the local solicitor to give only the barest minimum to running the house and its immediate environs. Despite Kenway’s pleas and the begging of the man who held the job before him, the son seemed just as much of a skinflint as the father, and even less responsive—until today.
Gadabout Gerard, Miles had begun referring to the man in his mind. But now that he faced the man in the flesh, he was struck by something unexpected in the man’s eyes. While amusement sparkled on the cool blue surface, beneath it he sensed something dark and deep, a profound sense of loss or pain or sadness. He wasn’t certain which. Maybe all three. Maybe none of them. It could simply be the heavy-lidded eyes that suggested a sorrow or depth that wasn’t there.
“As I said in my letters,” Miles began, feeling strongly that Gerard had barely skimmed what he’d written if he’d read them at all, “Ipsial showed up more than a month ago with a note in hand claiming his paternity, and a carpet bag with a few clothes and possessions over one shoulder. Not knowing whether he was truly related or not, we—meaning the staff, sir—decided to put him in the guests’ cottage rather than a guest room. We couldn’t be sure he wouldn’t run off with the silver or anything else he got his hands on if allowed indoors.”
“Mrs. Billings called the lad ‘wild’.” Gerard had poured a pair of glasses of brandy and now offered one to Miles before sitting across from him. “What did she mean by that?”
“Exactly as it sounds, sir. The boy has apparently spent much of his life fending for himself. He abandoned that cottage but remains on the premises. I believe he’s picked another outlying building that hasn’t been used for years.”
Gerard narrowed his eyes at this but didn’t speak, so Miles continued, “He steals food on a regular basis and gets into anything he can possibly get into. He’s uncivilized, probably unlettered, and some days I doubt whether he’s even human.”
Remembering who he was talking to, Miles dipped his head. “Sorry, sir. The little hellion is improving, I believe. I’ve been treating him as I would a horse that’s been abused, and I think he’s slowly coming to trust that no one here means him any harm.”
“But he’s clearly not ready for boarding school, although, God knows, the place is full of nasty little animals.” Gerard tapped a finger against his glass. “I can’t take him home with me, and it would be quite wrong of me to leave him clattering around here with some poor, hapless governess to look after him.”
“In my opinion, he’s in need of more than lessons. He needs someone to watch him full time, but he’s too old for a nanny,” Miles said, hoping that Gadabout would see the seriousness of the situation. “If handled with care, I believe Ipsial could grow into a responsible, civilized human being.”
“It sounds as if you’ve grown fond of the boy.” Gerard studied him with intent blue eyes that made Miles shift uncomfortably in his chair. Perhaps Gadabout wasn’t as oblivious as he seemed.
“I believe there’s good in him and that it can be cultivated,” Miles said simply.
The other man nodded and set down his empty glass. “I suppose I should meet the boy. My…son, if the stories he tells are to be believed. I have my London solicitor looking into that.”