Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
I wasn't sure I was actually going to like this book at first. I didn't quite warm to Archie at first and was a little put off by Da Silva.
But then... suddenly, I was all in and really enjoyed how both characters and the story eventually developed.
The book is set in Edwardian England in the aftermath of the Boer wars. Archie Curtis is a returning soldier of some small celebrity. The author borrowed another fictional character, Sir Henry Curtis, the traveling companion and co-adventurer of the proto-Indiana Jones Allan Quatermain from King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard , and made him into Archie's famous uncle. Another of Archie's uncles is highly placed in the English Government and is a very powerful man. This gives Archie the pedigree and entree into higher English society than would not necessarily be afforded a returning soldier.
And Archie uses this to his advantage. He has lost three fingers on one hand because of faulty guns used by his unit in the war. Many others in his unit were not so lucky. Worse, it turns out the faulty guns may have been sabotaged -- an act of treason.
So Archie, big bluff soldier that he is, decides to try his hand at detective work. His efforts lead him to a country house party where it becomes painfully obvious Archie is not very good at slipping through halls and gathering intel.
But there is one person at the party who is very good at it. Daniel Da Silva. Italian. Jewish. A Poet. And a little too effeminate for Archie's comfort. Archie views Daniel rather suspiciously at first until one fraught night he realizes that Daniel's reasons for being at the party might just march a little with his own. And there is rather more to Daniel than meets the eye.
It was obvious to me after a bit that Da Silva's character was being painted rather too broadly -- at least from Archie's POV -- to be really convincing. i was gratified to learn I was right and in such a way that I began to really, really enjoy Da Silva. Moreseo than Archie really.
With Archie you got a very straight-forward character who had no shadows. He was honest, forthright and really felt like central casting for good hero material. Normally I think I would have been all about Archie.
But Da Silva actually turned out to be a stealth character literally and figuratively. He was the one that fascinated me and in turn stole the book for Archie in some ways.
One thing I was very curious about was how the author would reconcile the apparently straight Archie into having a convincing romance and HEA with Da Silva? Would it be a case where it was a gay-for-you scenario? True, my m/m romance exposure is pretty much in its infancy, but I am finding that like insta-lust, I am not always convinced by the romance in the end. I will say I did think Archie's realization of his sexual preferences was convincingly done so it worked for me.
The supporting characters were interesting but fell very neatly into two categories. They were either with Archie/Da Silva or against them.
Good book, I hope we see Archie and Da Silva again.