Expected Release Date: February 11, 2015
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Author’s Website: http://thisjourneywithoutamap.blogspot.com
My Source for This Book: Netgalley
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Mechanical Universe
Series Best Read In Order: Works Well As A Standalone
Steam Level: Steamy
Pet Peeves: Big Misunderstanding
Favorite Tropes: Friends To Lovers, Arranged Marriage
Lord Marcel de la Mont de Anges, the Marquis de Montespan is a brilliant mathematician, member of the mechanical animation movement and all around dandy. He’s been in love with shy, quiet entomologist and youngest member of the royal family, Prince Gilbert André XVI, since they were children. The Emperor’s plans to arrange a marriage between Marcel and Gilbert should have been the answer to all his secret fantasies.
But Gilbert is still reeling from a nasty breakup, and he cannot picture the man he regards as a brother becoming his lover. The order to marry has thrown their relationship into disorder, and if they cannot sort out the changes there may not even be a friendship left for them to save…
I adore arranged marriages in my romances, especially when there is unrequited love involved. Marcel has been in love with Gilbert for most of his life, and while he has involved himself in a friends-with-benefits arrangement with another man, that hasn’t stopped him from secretly pining after his best friend.
When he’s approached by the Emperor, Gilbert’s father, and told that the Emperor has decided on a political marriage between Marcel and Gilbert, Marcel is undeniably thrilled, and jumps at the chance.
But Gilbert seems far less enthusiastic about the match, having recently been hurt terribly by the infidelity and fickle nature of his previous lover — a man Gilbert fancied himself in love with, but who was only after him for his money. He believes his best friend is already in love with another man, and despite having known from a young age that his would be a political marriage, he can’t help but wish for a love match. The last thing he wants is to deny his best friend some happiness, and he believes that in their arranged marriage, Marcel would end up hurt.
There was plenty of delicious angst in this novella, as both Gilbert and Marcel struggle with the desire to protect their long-lasting friendship, and to find a balance between their own happiness and the happiness of the other man. The flashbacks were so lovely, giving the reader little glimpses of Marcel and Gilbert’s life together, and seeing the scenes from each man’s perspective gave these scenes a bittersweet edge.
I do admit, I wasn’t long into this story before I wanted to shake both of our heroes, since sitting down and being honest with one another would have solved so many of their problems, but I can’t deny that I enjoyed the resulting angst while each tiptoed around the heart of the matter.
I also loved that Gilbert was not conventionally handsome (some even called him downright ugly), and that Marcel was a beautiful man, yet had his own physical imperfections. It was fun to see the wide variety of false arms that Marcel had, though I did occasionally wonder about the practicality of some of the fancier ones.
The chemistry between these two friends was delicious, and I especially enjoyed all of the dreams one had about the other. There were many instances where the chemistry simply crackled on the page, and when things finally work out, it didn’t disappoint.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novella. While I would have enjoyed a bit more information about the blend of magic and mathematics, as I found that concept quite fascinating, the love story itself was enough to keep me happy.
Recommended for fans of unrequited love, unconventional heroes, and lifelong friendships that turn into more, all with a dash of magic and a tiny hint of steampunk.
A very solid 4/5 Stars