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Kind Hearts by Evelyn Martin

This is another of those little books from an English LGBT publisher, Wayward Books, that between 2000 and 2006 published an handful of very worthy books and then stopped... I'm still hoping that this is a temporary stop, since all the books I read so far are really interesting, all of them with this subtle English humor that would have made worth to be read the book even if it wasn't a gay romance, but the fact that there is also the romance makes them really, really nice.

Ryan is a former police officer who took a leave of absence to go back to his University study; now fresh with his shining degree, but no more an innocent man, he has to decide what to do with his life. Ashton arrives to help him take the a different path: he is working for a private investigation firm and he needs a new partner; since he likes Ryan (and no, at first not in "that" way), he puts a good word with his boss and Ryan has a new career in front of him. Ashton is also ready to help him with his private life, always finding not one, but two willing girls at time to spend a good time together. Of the two man, Ashton is the more easygoing, the one who apparently thinks less and acts more, but Ashton has some best kept secret in his past, secrets that he hasn't revealed to Ryan neither after they are partner for five years. Even if Ryan seems the mind of their duo, he is actually a simple soul, and for him the things are always clear, and what he thinks, he does and says, he has no secret for no one, even less for Ashton, who he is starting to consider not only his partner but also his family.

During a drunken night, Ryan and Ashton end in bed together; the morning after both of them feigned a sudden and useful amnesia, but as I said before, Ryan is no a man to keep secrets, and in few time he realizes that this evolution in his relationship with Ashton was the only possible, and that he wants to go further that path. If the alcohol helped them once, maybe it will do also a second time, and Ryan sets things to get again Ashton drunk and willing. But when the things between them seem to get better, Ashton's past make its appearance: Ashton is not a simple man, a commoner, he is the nephew of a Duke, and now his grace wants that Ashton comes back home to help him with a delicate matter. Obviously Ryan, as Ashton's partner, will tag along, but this new side of Ashton adds trouble to trouble: not it's not more only a question of wrong gender, but also of different birth right.

All the book is mostly focused on Ryan and Ashton's relationship, from the beginning friendship to the ending love; I really like as the author deat with both Ryan and Ashton's reaction to this evolving situation: Ryan is almost resigned, he realizes that he likes, and maybe loves Ashton, he understands that he likes what Ashton did to him, and that, even if he never played along that inclination, he was not against the idea to be with a man; and so when the unthinkable happens with Ashton, after the first awkward morning when he first thinks to deny it, he realizes that it's not the end of the world, and then instead it's probably only the logical consequences to their special relationship. On the other hand Ashton has again the easy going attitude that he has with almost everything: he likes it, it is something that makes both of the happy and no one displeased, and so why not? There is no recriminations, no regrets between them; no deny what they are feeling, only the necessary time to be comfortable with it. No angst and no rage, they pass without a break from friends to loves in a very easy way. And the lovemaking between them is always considerate and tender, very, very enjoyable.

The second part of the book is also a nice full immersion in a big and old fashioned all aristocratic English family, complete of a little mystery that lead our heroes to investigate between the walls of an old abbey turned big country estate; a really nice set that reminds me a classical and old fashioned (and English!) sleuthing novel.

http://waywardbooks.com/acatalog/index.html

Amazon: Kind Hearts

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