Review: The Bitter Rednesses of Love by Dominique Frost

Anthony Clark, degenerate genius and impoverished nobleman, finds himself wedded to the painfully proper young aristocrat, Stephen Ayers. They've been pledged since before Stephen's birth.

Will their marriage prove intolerable to them both, or will they find a happy equilibrium, instead? As Anthony teaches Stephen the pleasures of the body, will Stephen be able to teach Anthony the pleasures of the heart?

I am fan of Dominique Frost. She hasn't written many books but from what I've read (all but one),  there's something about her writing that just works for me. Her characters are never dull or read one-dimensional. And when the snark is on, oh baby, is it on. In "The Bitter Rednesses of Love", the author uses a few of my favorite historical romance themes and did a swell job with them. What themes you may ask? The degenerate rakehell falling in love with a virgin (who is no wilting flower) and arranged marriage, having to marry for money. The story is steampunk but not heavy with any steampunk references, it read more like a historical...closer to Victorian England. It's like a marriage of both where it is normal for same sex marriages to take place. For full enjoyment, just take a spot of:

Thirty-six year old, poor scientist and rake, Anthony was betrothed to marry twenty-one year old, virginal solider, Stephen. Anthony was arranged to marry Stephen before Stephen was born. The silver tongued hero has sex with married people (he likes to sleep with wives and husbands for fun), he doesn't get married. But he needs money for his creations, so he can just marry the virgin, pluck his cherry and carry on with his philandering ways right? Maybe bring the virgin along for some fun.

He he he...luckily his plans never come to fruition, no matter how hard Anthony tries to remain a rake.

"It was mad. It was inconceivable. Anthony began to detect in himself the symptoms of a disease he had sworn never to acquire--lovesickness--and thus berated himself for a clodpoll to so fall into the gilded trap."

Oh boy, his downfall into love was fun. I just wished there was more. I could have easily read hundreds of more pages about Anthony and Stephen. Anthony was charismatic as was Stephen. Stephen was not a fainting virgin, he gave as good as he got. (Though sometimes he could be a bit too stubborn) I zipped through this story and ate it up.


The dialogue was sexy.

"Today, I shall have you as you are meant to be had. Tomorrow, you can expect more patience from me."

But the characters when they were together...even sexier:

Anthony took one of Stephen's hands and placed it on his own chest, above his racing heart. "Feel the beat of it," Anthony said, "the beat and the roar. I am no less disarmed than you." He glanced downward at Stephen's hardness, mirroring his own, and smiled. "Though we may seem well-armed indeed, with lances of our own..."

The plot was a fun one. I loved the struggle between the two and the ending especially. There were minor issues with transitioning - not a lot hence my rating of 4.5 hearts. But definitely an engaging read, with delicious main characters, great banter, and memorable secondary characters. I really enjoyed the valets.

I think this was the best the author has published to date.