Review: A Willful Romantic by Darrah Glass (Ganymede Quartet Book 3)

Love is everything, but sometimes it’s not enough. 

At the dawn of 1901, Henry Blackwell is gathering the courage to share his feelings with his companion slave Martin. Henry is in love, and he’d do anything to make Martin love him in return. In anticipation of making such a declaration, Henry works to be a better person, the sort of man whose love is worth having. 

But simply having love returned isn’t enough. Henry wants unreasonable things, impossible things. He wants his love for Martin to be accepted and acknowledged, even admired, by the world at large. He desperately wants there to be a place in the city where he can behave as he likes with the person he loves. Practical Martin doesn't approve of Henry’s romantic notions and urges caution. Henry struggles between keeping Martin happy and pursuing his dream of acceptance. 

This is the third of four installments in the Ganymede Quartet, continuing the story from A Proper Lover (Ganymede Quartet Book 2). 

A rose is never just a rose.

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Certainly not as far as Henry's concerned. 

Recently Darrah posted a poll asking who was your favorite, Henry or Martin. I voted for Henry, sort of looked at the results, noticed there was only one other person who voted for Henry but there weren't a lot of cumulative votes so I shrugged it off thinking it was a fluke. Later Darrah informed me that no, in fact, most preferred Martin.

*covers Henry's ears*


How can this possibly be true? He's a dandy of the highest order! He's a romantic! He's so humble and bashful and blushing and... OHEMMMGEEEEE WHY DON'T PEOPLE LOVE HIM AS MUCH AS ME?!?!? Ahem. I'm hopeful more people will recognize how lovely he is after this installment.

In A Willful Romantic Henry tries to be worthy of Martin and undergoes some personal growth in these first three months of 1901. He seems to be coming into his own but not infallible and his mistakes are usually titillating and amusing to varying degrees. He continues to struggle with possessiveness and jealousy but I think this is part of his charm, and I suspect, Martin shares my view. 

"The way I feel... " Martin began. "I keep thinking, Henry, that if you ever stopped wanting to make love to me, I'd die."

These two are gaga for each other and declare their love which makes the next hurdle a bit more challenging. You see, Henry is desperate to have people recognize and accept he and Martin as a couple, though this is strictly prohibited. Uncle Reggie or cousin Jesse could prove helpful in helping them find a place more accepting of their love but, then again, perhaps not. How Henry handles having to adhere to society's rules is the focal point of this installment. Henry gets more and more daring much to Martin's displeasure. 

It bothered Henry that Martin didn't particularly mind how their displays of affection were restricted, perfectly content with the status quo; whereas Henry wanted the freedom to show everyone how undeniably they belonged together with explicit clarity.

Aside from Henry's growth and his struggles with feeling stifled there was much more information given on the slaves and even a slave wedding which got a bit randy. Henry's mother seems to be emerging from her circling the planet, laudanum induced haze due to Reggie's reappearance. Why she couldn't do this for her own children is beyond me. Were she a real person I'd likely find a way to "accidentally" bitch slap for her decade spent in absentia. Henry's father is stern and taciturn but the more we find out about him, the more I respect him. I wish he were slightly more demonstrative and verbal, but it seems his heart's in the right place. He gets points for that. Cousin Jesse shows a lot of promise. I'm quite anxious to see what sort of impact he'll have on Henry in the next installment.

"I love your body," Henry allowed himself to say. It was just shy of a straightforward declaration of love. "I love touching you, and I love the smell of your skin, and I love tasting you. I love to look at you. I love watching you come, and I love the sounds you make." He paused for a breath. "You're perfect for me, too."

As you can imagine, these two are all over each other like white on rice. I was so hoping Henry would push his envelope a bit more but there were some deliciously kinky shenanigans afoot in the Blackwell mansion. Often. I can't complain in the slightest. I'm sure some will take issue with the amount of sex, underage sex at that, but the connection between them can't be denied which made the sex gratifying rather than gratuitous, in my opinion.

I truly cannot say enough good things about this series and what Darrah has achieved. It's a perfect synergy between thorough research, inspired creativity and beautiful prose. I couldn't ask for anything more than that.

If you haven't given the Ganymede series a go, you should.

A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads.


  1. I know, I know, I said no more YA. But, and it's a big but, is this really YA? Seems a strong adult theme here, or am I wrong? and I'm assuming it's an alternative realm or something? You've certainly got my attention with 5* and have to say that I haven't heard of the series or the author, it looks like that may change.

    1. It is an AU of Victorian NYC where slavery is an established part of the society. Wealthy teens acquire a "companion" slave when they are 17 who sort of guides and helps them through life. Sex is expected, but loving your slave is taboo as is homosexuality. Martin (slave) & Henry are well matched and boink like rabbits. It's really a great series, Lorraine. You should give it a try. I think the first novella, A Superior Slave, (Martin's POV) is free to download, but I will say, IMO the series gets stronger as it goes on. Hope this explains more. ^o^