TRIAL by Etienne
Trial by Etienne
Appearances Trilogy, Book 1
Reviewed by Cassie
Lawyer Charles Barnett is annoyed when his plans for a long weekend away are interrupted by his boss, who wants him to meet a new client. Philip d’Autremont is accused of murdering his wife for financial gain, but claims to be innocent. Charles is instantly intrigued by Philip, and before he knows it Philip is both his client and his lover.
Philip shares Charles’ instant attraction, and is pleased when they become lovers, but he has a lot on his plate. With secrets to hide, a murder trial hanging over his head, and Charles’ un-dealt-with grief over his late partner to contend with, can Philip come out of this difficult time with his heart, and his life, intact?
I was expecting Trial to be full of courtroom drama. Unfortunately, the storyline was not quite what I hoped for. Charles and Philip have a lot in common. They’re both wealthy, educated, and articulate men. Neither of them are uneasy with their sexuality, and when they jump into a relationship, they’re both surprised but pleased. Charles never has any doubt that Philip is innocent of the crime he’s been accused of, but he knows the homophobic District Attorney will try every trick in the book to get Philip convicted. For that reason, he’s planning to pull out all the stops, including calling in favors from friends and associates and having his PI best friend look into the case.
The problem with Trial, in my mind, is that the trial itself plays out almost like a footnote, as does the investigation. There’s a lot of Charles and Philip traveling for other business, and for pleasure, as well as a lot of fade-to-black lovemaking and dealing with Charles’ grief over his former partner. As I mentioned before, the two men are similar, which made it difficult for me to remember whose first-person narration I was reading at times, despite the chapters being labeled with their names. The investigation is mentioned only sometimes, and never attains the urgency it ought to, given that it’s the only thing stopping Philip from spending his life in prison. The actual trial happens quickly, near the end. The villain, the homophobic DA, is almost cartoonishly evil. The extent to which he goes in an attempt to frame Philip strained credibility, in my opinion.
Overall, Trial is an interesting read, but I was disappointed. The romance and travel storyline was readable enough, and I might have enjoyed it more had I not been hoping for a taught courtroom drama instead.