Top2Bottom Reviews, Gabbi, 5 stars, Recommended Read
If you love sexy heroes that are so well-written they live off of the written page…read this book. If you are craving a fast-paced romance that will live with you long after you finish reading it…read this book. I honestly can’t recommend it enough.
Gay Book Reviews, Ele, Recommended Read
I loved the scenes of Joe’s “training” that gave the MCs the time to bond, and allowed for the romance to develop steadily but fiercely, but also the playful/adventurous scenes like the one in the museum. This really was a very romantic tale.
My Fiction Nook, Dani, 4.5 stars
Arthur and Joe connect immediately, and watching their friendship turn to something more tender and intimate is a beautiful thing.
Gay Book Reviews, CrabbyPatty, 4.5 stars
Arthur expands Joe’s world view and education through interesting discussions, museum visits and unlike Professor Higgins’s misogynistic overbearing teaching, there is respect between the two men which quickly bursts into a sizzling sexual attraction.
My Fiction Nook, Jewel, 4 stars
Joe goes through quite the outward transformation in the story, but his core honesty and integrity are there, throughout. But Arthur is really who shone in The Masterpiece. You see them bond as friends before they do as lovers and it was spot on.
Open Skye Book Reviews, Beth, 4.5 stars
Joe and Arthur end up realizing that they are very well matched in intelligence and opinions, as well as in bed.
Diverse Reader, Meredith
You may have never read a historical and you’d still love this book. If you’re a huge fan of them then this is one you have to read.
Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Optimist, 3.5
There isn’t a whole lot of conflict or angst. It’s just a sweet little treat of a story about a fancy toff and a lowly shoeshiner falling in love.
Rainbow Book Reviews, Serena
If you like “rags to riches” tales with a touch of fairy tale feeling, if you think everyone deserves a chance at happiness, no matter their background, and if you’re looking for a read that is entertaining, will probably make you smile, has a historical setting with lots of charming details, and a happy ending that is as wonderful as it is unlikely, then you will probably like this novella as much as I do.
The butler pointed out a chair for him to sit in—not one of the upholstered armchairs but a wooden one with no fabric for him to dirty. He told Joe the master would be in presently then left the room.
Joe sat still for all of a minute but he wanted to see that fancy radiator up close. He pulled aside the screen and studied it then put the screen back and wandered around the room admiring other marvels. There was a fully-rigged sailing ship in a glass bottle on the mantle. Above that, a large portrait of a uniformed man with enormous mutton chop whiskers glared down at the intruder in the house.
“My grandfather, Admiral Cornelius Bingley Lawton. When I was a boy, he would bring me treasures from his trips to all corners of the globe.”
The voice from behind Joe nearly made him jump out of his shoes. He turned to face Mr. Lawton, who had the same striking features and piercing eyes as the man in the painting.
“Please, sit down,” Lawton indicated one of two armchairs facing the fireplace.
“Sorry, sir. I should’ve stayed where I was put, but this room…Cor, I ain’t seen nothin’ like it in me life. ‘Tis a marvel.” He went where Lawton directed and perched on the edge of the chair.
Lawton leaned back in his seat and gracefully crossed his long legs. “You may as well begin to learn proper etiquette. It’s all right to be curious, but one doesn’t generally poke about someone’s house when paying a call.”
The reprimand was not harshly spoken but it embarrassed Joe to be considered so ignorant. “I know, sir. It ain’t considered polite among my sort either. I won’t do it again.”
Lawton studied him with those shining brown eyes. “You understand the terms of my wager with Lord Granville? In six weeks you will attend Lady Granville’s spring gala as my guest. The social elite will be there, peers and politicians, perhaps even royalty. You must be as polished and well-spoken as any man there. If you convince them you’re one of them, the proof will be in invitations to other social gatherings.”
“Yes, sir. I understand.” But he didn’t really. It was an odd measure for winning a bet, especially when that Lord Muckety Granville seemed to be in charge of deciding whether Joe had passed muster or not.
Lawton continued in that smooth voice that stroked like velvet against Joe’s ears, making the hair on his neck and arms pleasantly prickle. “As we proceed with your education, if I should correct you on any matter, it is without malice or intent to demean you. I don’t know how much you know about the social graces I’ll be attempting to impart.”
“Yes, sir,” Joe repeated, as it seemed the safest answer to give to all those high flown, fancy words. He didn’t want to ruin this opportunity to earn twenty quid within his first minutes here. Lawton might choose some other bloke to train up and Joe would be booted out of the miracle he’d lucked into.
“This is about much more than a different way of speaking. There are rules governing even the most mundane behaviors in society, all of which must become second nature to you.”
Lawton leaned forward now, his arms resting on his thighs and his gaze even more powerful. Joe felt it pressing against his chest like a hand. “But beyond that, there is a certain way you must carry yourself, with poise, confidence and dignity. I know quite a few pedigreed men, especially young bucks, who lack that air of quality. I want you to outmatch those of the highest breeding, to show what you are capable of through sheer willpower. Can you do that?”
Joe began nodding even before Lawton finished speaking. He hadn’t felt the force of someone’s words this way since his mum used to drag him to church where the minister’s sermons on hellfire seemed directed at him. While that had scared the bejeezus out of him, Mr. Lawton’s words lit him on fire. I will become that man, the one with poise and confidence.
“Yes! I’ll do my very best for you, Mr. Lawton.”
Lawton slapped Joe’s knee. “Good man.” He leaned back, but Joe still felt that warm touch.
“We’ll start from the skin outward.” The gentleman lightened his tone. “A bath and a fresh set of clothing. My tailor will come tomorrow to take your measurements for new clothing. For this evening, you may wear some of my clothes.”
Joe noted his host’s linen shirt, soft woolen trousers, jacket, and silk waistcoat, and had the silly thought of joining Lawton inside those clothes. He ducked his face to hide his smile at the absurd thought.
Lawton rose and went to the wall to press a button. “This is how you must summon a servant should you need one. A bell rings in the kitchen, letting the staff know in which room service is required. I’m fairly certainly Merton is hovering out in the hall just now, waiting to show you to the guest bedroom, and then to the washroom where a bath will be drawn.” He frowned. “You are familiar with indoor plumbing? You’ve had a full bath before, not just washed up in a basin?”
What sort of conditions did he think Joe lived in? “Yes, sir. I’ve had tub baths. Not so large as yours, I imagine.” In a shared washroom for everyone on that floor and with lukewarm water only a few inches deep. “I believe I can manage.”
Lawton smiled and acknowledged his tone. “Sarcasm is a gentleman’s rapier with which he fences daily. Point to you.”
Merton came to collect Joe, and Joe lost track of time as one new experience after another rushed at him. He barely had time to take in the beautiful bed and lovely furnishings in the guest room before he was shown to the wash room.
There, he stood thunderstruck, staring from a huge claw-foot tub on a raised platform, with spigots for both cold and hot water, to the plush towels hung on a rack for the bather’s convenience, to a large sink with an oval mirror in a curved frame above it.
His reflection gaped back at him, as grubby as a ragpicker or a homeless beggar. No wonder Lawton took him for an ignorant bum rather than a workingman who made a more or less adequate living.
“Do you require aide with your bath, Mr. Sprat,” Merton interrupted his thoughts. “I could send Mr. Lawton’s valet, Jackson, or one of the footmen.”
“I can wash meself, thanks much.” Joe cleared his throat and mimicked Lawton’s plummy drawl, “You may leave now, my good man.”
With the door closed behind Merton, Joe stripped off his clothes and tested the steaming water. He’d never in his life had so much water to splash around in except for an occasional swim in the filthy Thames on a hot summer day. He put in a toe, then a foot, then submerged his whole body right up to the chin in that glorious warmth. With a sigh, Joe closed his eyes and fell back, dousing his head. For a few moments, he floated underwater, allowing the heat to seep into his very bones and the water to soak the grime of the streets off him. Heavenly bliss!
At last he reached for the flannel and the fragrant bar of soap and began to scrub. He would step out of this bath a new man, ready to take on the world—or at least the better half of it. He would make Mr. Lawton proud with how easily he learned grammar and good manners. And he would make his mum even prouder when he opened a shop of his own at last.