Madcap Masquerade by Persephone Roth

Dreamspinner Press

Gay Historical

ISBN: 978-1-61581-240-0

Reviewed by Cassie

 

   

 

Loel Woodbine, the Duke of Marche, has no interest in women, but in order to please his rich aunt—who holds his purse strings tightly—he must marry the woman she’s chosen for him  He’s determined to make the best of the situation, not expecting much.  To his shock, his wife-to-be turns out to be tall, stunning, and not a woman at all!  Always on the lookout for ways to turn situations to his advantage, Marche asks the young man, his intended’s brother, to continue the pretense for a bit longer.

Valentine Randiwick, Earl of Blythestone, has little choice but to accept Marche’s proposal.  After all, he deceived the man at the behest of his sister, who wished to marry another.  What Valentine didn’t count on, however, are the strange, unwelcome feelings Marche stirs in him.  Keeping up the charade may be more difficult than he expects, especially with the scrutiny he now faces as a “duchess” and his feelings for Marche.

Madcap Masquerade more than lives up to its name.  Loel, despite his tendency to do whatever he wants and be a bit on the manipulative side, has a good heart and is protective of those he cares for.  Valentine is naïve to the extreme at times, but his sweetness and ability to roll with the punches kept him from being annoying.  Watching Loel fall under Valentine’s unwitting spell was fun, and the scenes between them were sweet and hot.  There are quite a few secondary characters in Madcap Masquerade, including the Prince Regent, Beau Brummell, Marche’s bossy but kind aunt, Valentine’s sister, a sneaky and cruel villain, and my favorite secondary characters: the three dandies Darby St. Denis, who writes poetry about “Valeria” (really Valentine), Neville Stokes, the most sensible of the three, and Crispin Ludstall, the drunk.  While dandies are a common trope in Regency and Victorian romances, I liked the distinctive personalities of these three, and their contributions to the plot were amusing and interesting.  The storyline is cute and fun in parts, and dramatic in others.  Toward the end, the story gets darker, and there’s a lot of action.  My only quibbles with the story were that it veered toward melodrama at a couple of points, and Loel took too many chances and too many people know of his preference for men.  Homosexuality was illegal during the time of the story, yet most of the characters either don’t seem to care or are ridiculously oblivious to what’s going on in front of their faces.  That wasn’t enough to stop me from enjoying the book.  If you’re in the mood for a story that’s equal parts fun romp and drama, then Madcap Masquerade certainly fits the bill.

     

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