This review originally appeared in a slightly different form at BDSM Book Reviews.
Reynold, the next Duke of Wilton, is very attached to his young lover and submissive sex slave, Lord David Litchfield, but the lad is immature and becomes jealous of Reynold's friendship with Lord John. The suspicion erupts more than once in a public argument, so to avoid scandal Lord Reynold buys a commission in the army and leaves for the Americas, where revolution is brewing.
When Reynold returns three years later, his lust for David is undiminished. But Lord David has gotten himself into a very nasty situation. He ran up some gambling debts, which were bought up by a brute named Hale. To keep his father from finding out about his foolishness, David has had to agree to be Hale's sex slave for ten years. Hale is the kind of master who delights in inflicting pain and humiliation without regard as to whether or not the submissive gets any pleasure from it.
David is in many ways a broken man. He desperately wants to get out from under Hale's thumb, but he doesn't think he can ever again find pleasure in the kind of scenes he once played out with Reynold. David still seems to love Lord Reynold, but he also fears him, and most importantly, he doesn't trust the man who abandoned him any longer.
Reynold is nonetheless determined to get David away from Hale and try to win back his trust. With Lord John's help, he hatches plans to eliminate Hale and marry David's sister. The marriage will not only give him the cover of respectability, it will also give him a reason nobody would question to have David close to him. That was one of the reasons he left in the first place; there was no connection between them that would justify the amount of time David spent with Reynold.
Let's see what we have here:
Extensive descriptions of the hair: color, length, how it's done - check.
What are they wearing? Got it, in every scene.
Scents too? Of course - “You smell like lemons, Johnny.”
Yes, every cringe-inducing cliché of bad romance writing is here in this m/m bodice ripper (I think that makes it a zipper ripper), but you know what? That's not the worst thing about this book. You can get over the repeated lengthy discussions of David's blond locks, or what Lord John is wearing. You can skim or even skip over the paragraphs talking about hair and clothing which appear at the start of every scene. That's not my thing, but maybe some people like it.
No, the real problem with Lord & Master is that everything goes more or less according to plan, no matter how outlandish the plan, and some of them are pretty outlandish. Nothing really stands in the way of our heroes' path to happily ever after. The idea of marrying David's sister Lady Sarah is suggested almost flippantly by Lord John, but Reynold takes it up immediately. Not only does the girl's father readily agree to let the rakish lord marry his compromised daughter, he insists that Reynold take David under his wing as mentor.
It all gets a bit frustrating. You keep expecting something, anything, to go wrong to upset Reynold's plans, and it may be a bit of a spoiler to say this, but nothing ever happens to seriously change the course of events. Sure, there are a few wrinkles here and there, but they provide only a false hope.
As the blurb implies, there is a bit of kinkiness to this book. Most of it is concentrated in the early parts of the story. After the first few chapters, there's not much except kissing and groping until the end. The odd thing about this book is that the writing isn't all that bad, on the whole, it just lacks much drama and focuses too much on irrelevant little details that don't contribute anything to the story.
You can find out more about the author, H.C. Brown, at their web site.
Lord & Master may be purchased from Amazon.