Review: Behind Locked Doors by Nicholas Kinsley

Edward Taylor is a man torn between his honourable façade and his forbidden carnal desires. Outwardly a proper Victorian family man, Edward secretly craves pain and lusts after men. Isaac Sinclair is a struggling writer forced by poverty to supplement his income with less savory pursuits, including discreetly inflicting “professional punishments” upon wealthy gentlemen. When Edward catches Isaac in an act of petty theft, the chance meeting seems to offer an ideal opportunity for both men. Neither man, however, is prepared for the escalation of social and personal risk occasioned by falling in love. 

There is something about historical kink that just works for me. Maybe it's the language of the era. Maybe it's the outfits. I'm not sure but it's a potent cocktail when you combine a Victorian setting, kink and finessed prose that'll have me sitting at that bar for quite some time, long past closing. This era engenders that desperate sort of romance probably due to all the intrinsic repression and standardized morality. Behind Locked Doors is a true romance between Edward and Isaac that remains true to the time period wherein being deviant in any way, shape, form or fashion nearly always resulted in ostracism. 

"It's not only that I want. I want it all. I want to fall asleep and wake up with you. I want to be able to call you mine in public. I want to be able to write about my love for you because I have the words in my head but it is forbidden that I put them to paper."

Edward has married a charismatic, outgoing and feisty French girl whom he loves as a friend. Unfortunately, their marriage has robbed her of vibrancy largely due to the fact that Edward is gay and avoids her for the most part, thereby making intimacy problematic. Edward blames himself for her unhappiness, but society dictates that he maintain the ruse. Still, he has needs that supersede his sexual desires.

Edward is a bit of a masochist, has been since he was a boy in school manufacturing ways to get disciplined. Isaac is a professional dominant and a chance meeting three years ago brought them together, but they do not have a sexual relationship initially. I actually found their relationship quite refreshing. The lack of sex coupled with the repression made for a very romantic love story. Edward has constructed an image of arrogance to keep others at bay and avoid relationships that could reveal his deviance. This facade leaves him isolated and socially awkward, but serves his purposes. Isaac has learned to see the real Edward beneath the veneer. 

Edward's a complex character, one a liked and disliked in nearly equal measures. He is very forthright save for the infidelity which I respected, but I didn't respect his relationship with his 6 year old son. He's somehow gotten it into his head that Peter doesn't like or love him and has given up hope of developing a loving relationship with him. On more than one occasion I found myself muttering, "he's 6, you git! Of course he loves you. You're his father." then rolling my eyes. There was also something about his characterization that didn't sit well with me and perhaps it's just my interpretation, but there was a subtle intimation that Edward is uncomfortable in any sort of commanding role which struck me as a distorted and somewhat disingenuous view of a submissive. 

Isaac's characterization was lovely, though. I thoroughly enjoyed how bubbly and outgoing he was paired with how controlling and quietly commanding he was within the context of a scene; it was like a light switch. He's also very intuitive and relies on his instincts where Edward is concerned which propels their relationship forward from professional to personal.

Their story struck a chord with me, but I'm a sucker for these types of stories as I said initially. I know the cheating will be off-putting for many as will the fact that Behind Locked Doors is non-linear. There are flashbacks that encompass Edward and Marie's meeting as well as the 3 years of Edward's relationship with Isaac. At times I had difficulty keeping track of the time jumps, but not often. By and large, I sank into this world that Kinsley has created. Plus, there were stockings and garters, not traditional MANTIES but I'll take it.


Recommend to fans of historical kink with an abundance of romance.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

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