19th century England was full of slender English roses, corsets, and chaperones. Who needs that? Join Rob Rosen on a rough ride through parlors, stables, phonograph rooms, and anywhere else you can hoist up a frock coat. Men of the Manor pierces social boundaries and thrusts aside class structures, in a salacious anthology that could make even the worldliest butler blush. So retire to the drawing room, dim the lamps, and find yourself a stiff brandy. You’ll be gone some time.
Men of the Manor: Erotic Encounters between Upstairs Lords and Downstairs Lads by Rob Rosen
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Cleis Press (October 7, 2014)
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The country estate, masters and servants, mystery and intrigue, sex and money—all go hand in hand in these turn-of-the-century tales of what goes on behind the manor’s closed doors. Does the master lure the butler to the phonograph room for a romp behind the sofa, or does the stable boy have a tryst with the footman while the lord longingly watches on? Does the aristocrat drop his foppish manners when the butler helps him undress? And do the classes exchange more than pleasantries when the lamps are dimmed and the ladies retire for the evening?
Rob Rosen has gathered the hottest stories of romance and sex between wealthy aristocrats and the hard-working estate staff, all with a pre-World War I backdrop, including the fashion and art and the latest inventions of the day. War is years way, the estates are huge and sprawling, the fashionably elite have too much time on their hands, while the toiling underclass are always on the lookout for a means to a brighter future — no matter whose bed they end up in. Think Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, but with enough sex to make the town vicar blush.
Silver-backed mirrors have always been the secret to beauty. As time goes on, their fading metals present gentler and gentler reflections, until all that remains is a blended echo akin to our memories of youth. As it was, the Young Master’s standup mirror had remained in the family for more than a century. He said it came from the Mediterranean.
“—which is why I love to see you in it, Laredo,” he sighed as I set his cuff links in their box. “With you, in this mirror, I could imagine us boarding at some Catalonian inn—sailing every day. Clear waters. Clear skies. Nothing like this.”
Outside, the rain let loose, moving everyone in. The musicians had relocated to the main hall, and now every corridor was abuzz with maids fetching dry towels and warm tea.
“I have never been to Spain, my Lord.”
When I slid my fingers under the collar of his jacket, he automatically raised his shoulders, freeing his arms of the coat via our intimate if puppeted routine. He ruled me by occupation, adoration, and secrecy of sexuality, yet one tap to the inside of his ankle and he would raise his foot like a show pony. Certainly, I was the one to remove his shoes, inflating his sense of benevolence, but one tap to the underside of his arm and he would turn for me again, losing his confidence to propinquity. Face-to-face, I undid his ivory shirt buttons. He had already unwound his tie.
“Laredo?” he asked as I pulled his shirt open. My eyes were downcast. He blinked once at his own chest. “Why do you make so much of this?”
“So much of you, my Lord?” I asked, skimming a flat hand across his stomach. “Because you are beautiful and kind, two sentiments rarely met.”
“A rarity in Camberwell, perhaps?”
“To one like I, yes.”
“Like you? A Spaniard’s bastard?” he said, holding his breath so as not to seem so drunk, which was adorable in a way. I had measured his glass deliberately, and we were both aware of it.
“A sinner, my Lord.”
Sighing, he looked back to the mirror.
“Forgive me, Laredo. I’m bitter.”
“If you’re bitter then I blame the caviar—for it’s a flavor I would never associate with you.”
“And you say I’m beautiful and kind? Well, if you say it then it must be so because I’m not about to make a liar of you. Oh Lord, there are those eyes again! Were you but a woman I would walk you downstairs and steal this soggy wedding.”
“Perhaps it’s less the caviar and more the wine,” I mused, stepping away to hang his shirt in the wardrobe.
“Come back, Laredo,” he said, his suspenders dangling free about his waist. “Don’t chill yourself to me. I’m sorry. I’ll…I’ll grant you anything. Would you have a raise? It’s done. Your own horse? Have your pick.”
“Beware, my Lord, I am the sort to wish for more wishes.”
“And how many would satisfy you?”
“Two, actually,” I said, returning to hold his gaze. He didn’t even realize I had his belt until it was slung over my shoulder.
“So name it.”
“I want a night like Edinburgh. I want a night where I don’t have to go back to the servant’s quarters. I want you to keep me ’til morning.”
“Yes…but the house is very busy tonight.”
“All the more noise to hide us.”
“And your other wish?” he swallowed, having lost his breath.
“My Lord, it occurs to me that for over a year I’ve dressed you, redressed you, and undressed you…and yet I’ve never undressed myself.”
Author bio: Rob Rosen (www.therobrosen.com), author of the novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You’ll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp and Queens of the Apocalypse, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor, and Best Gay Erotica 2015, has had short stories featured in more than two hundred anthologies.
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