Monday, January 7, 2008

Man Love Monday - My Fair Captain review

Yep, it's Man Love Monday! Be sure to check out lisabea's blog for hilarious commentary, HAWT photos and loads of fun. My humble contributions will come in the form of book reviews. Let's begin, shall we?

I have to be honest. I did not expect to be particularly interested in reading an m/m romance novel. To be sure, I’ve read books that had gay secondary characters as well as ménage stories which included some m/m action. But my first love is historicals and I was under the impression that given the rigid social structures in the past, a satisfactory gay love story would be difficult if not impossible to find. I like my HEA and how happy of an ending can one have with the shadow of an oppressive disapproving (and downright dangerous) conservative society hanging over your protagonists’ heads? Enter J.L. Langley’s gay space Regency, My Fair Captain. Yes, you read that right. Gay space Regency! All of the fun clothes, stuffy balls, horses and carriages and social rules but recast in a totally gay society.

Captain Nathaniel Hawkins commands an intergalactic Navy space frigate. Banished from his own home planet years ago after a duel, Nate lives the life of a rough and ready warrior. Sent to the planet Regelence to investigate a case involving missing weapons, he finds himself in the middle of a highly formalized Regency-like society where young men are chaperoned and sought after in marriage by older more experienced men of the Ton. King Steven and his consort Raleigh are Nate’s hosts, and as luck would have it, one of their five sons literally falls into his lap. Aiden is a young, headstrong artist who has no interest in playing the marriage mart. He is only interested in furthering his training in art and wonders, “Why did everyone think a man needed a consort and children to make him complete?” (sound familiar?)

Readers of historical romances will pick up on the types right away; what makes the book so fun to read is that the standard formula we all know is turned just slightly on its head. Nate is the alpha hero. Strong, masculine, straightforward and just a little gruff, he can’t understand why he’s so attracted to Aiden. Although naïve and unsure of all the new feelings coursing through him, Aiden finds himself drawn to the dashing captain and reconsiders his antipathy towards marriage. They engage in a courtship that includes all of those delightful little Regency scenarios. The first waltz at the ball. A furtive kiss away from the chaperone’s watchful eye. Nate making his intentions known to Aiden’s parents. Even the standard “being caught in a compromising situation and being forced to marry in a hurry.” It’s all there. Oh and did I mention the wedding night? I have to hand it to Langley. This was hot and romantic and thoroughly believable. A natural physical expression of the emotional connection between these two men and not something merely meant to shock or titillate the reader.

There’s more to the story about the missing weapons and the dastardly bad guys who are trying to take over the world (or something) but I found myself skimming over that stuff to get back to Nate and Aiden. The developing relationship between them rings true and becomes more involved throughout the book. And the supporting characters like Nate’s adopted son and Aiden’s parents and brothers all have distinctive personalities and propel the story along. When I finished the story, it was with a big sigh and a sloppy grin on my face. And that’s what I really want out of a romance novel.

If you, like me, are new to the world of man-love romances and you want a good place to start, you could do no better than My Fair Captain. I know that I’m keeping Langley on my list of authors to watch and I can’t wait to read another story set in Regelence. Much thanks to lisabea for getting the word out on this book.

A-

10 comments:

lisabea said...

Yay smart girl! You Rock!


Happy Man Love Monday. Can you believe I'll be a way from my computer most of the day? :(

Katie(babs) said...

I am so glad you enjoyed this book like I did. Langley desrves kudos for writing an incredible romance period. As of now it is my top read for 2008 even though it ws published in 2007. :)

Tumperkin said...

I've started it at last and I'm liking it (though I'm not far in). My more detailed views will follow at some point. What I can't get over at the moment is just what a seriously good idea the whole set-up is and how I can't believe no-one thought of it before.

I'll be pimpin' youse

Carolyn Jean said...

Sula,

I love your thoughtful, thorough review. And you didn't spoil anything for my halfway-through state.

Also, I totally love when you say this:

"When I finished the story, it was with a big sigh and a sloppy grin on my face. And that’s what I really want out of a romance novel."

I have already had a few moments like that with this book, and plan on some more. I am especially looking forward to the wedding night.

I was going to write another thing on this book later, but in honor of man-love Monday, I think I will do it today.

sula said...

aww, thanks everyone for showing up for the (little) party. Next time I promise to post more in the way of hot pics of manflesh. lol.

lisabea, I tried to stay away from my computer...and only sort of succeeded. This is way more interesting than work, dammit!

katiebabs, I think this one has to go somewhere on my AAR ballot. It's figuring out where exactly that may be the trick.

T, can't wait to read your commentary as I know it will be deep and insightful.

CJ, I lurved your posting and have made some comments of my own chez toi. Have you made it to the wedding night yet?

Stacy~ said...

I've read a few m/m love stories, my favorite being "The Assignment" by Evangeline Anderson. This one sounds really good, and I just loved your review.

Susan/DC said...

A question, since the one possible objection I have to M/M or F/F books is how the other gender is portrayed. I've nothing against same sex couples as long as the other gender is not seen as somehow less or negative. Are there any women in this book, and what is their role in this world?

sula said...

Stacy, thanks! I'm glad you liked the review and I hope you check out the book. And thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to track that one down.

Susan, it's an interesting question and if I have one complaint with the book it would be the general lack of women. It's not that they're portrayed negatively, they just don't seem to be around. There is one girl who is the adopted child/ward of Adrien's older brother. One of Nate's officers on board his space ship is a woman, so it's obvious that in the wider galaxy, men and women share military roles. On Regelence itself, the upper echelon of the society is patriarchal and by that, they mean ALL men and all gay. Children are produced using some sort of genetic sci-fi thing using the material of both fathers.

maybe lisabea or others who have read the book can comment in more detail, but that's what I recall. :)

lisabea said...

I waited for you Sula to see your take.

It is my only real complaint with JL's work: there don't seem to be many women around. They aren't evil, they're just away somewhere. Possibly busy or at work? It's not clear. They aren't central to the plot and they don't play any major roles. It stood out to me particularly in the With series, as this is a modern setting of a were community.

Still, they are yummy. I roll with it.

Katie(babs) said...

Hey Susan/DC!
I have read My Fair Captain and the world that Nate goes to is a male dominated society where homosexuality is accepted and their way of life. There are only two females shown, one being Aiden's little sister who is four years old and their old nanny who is a much older women.
I think the way Langely may go with this series is to have m/m and maybe have a female pop up once in awhile, but not f/m relationships, unless she has something in store for their little sister.
And the way the relationships are portrayed are so respectful and loving. Much kissing, hugging, cuddling laughing and plain hot!
Also great parents in the book also.
I could just go on and on about MFC!