In the captivating Regency romance The Lawrence Browne Affair, Cat Sebastian crafts a many-layered love story reminiscent of a rejuvenated tale of Beauty and the Beast. The story of Radnor and Georgie delights with winsome, finely-tuned prose that renders the narrative sexy, dashing, funny, and deeply poignant.
From the book description:
An earl hiding from his future . . .
Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.
When I was in college, my drug of choice was not pot or beer – it was Beauty and the Beast. The Disney cartoon. I would watch it on a loop as I pulled an all-nighter or pop it into the VCR when I needed to relax and remember sanity. While I was always aware of what bothered me about the story, I successfully muffled my misgivings. Like the whole kidnapping angle, for instance. Not an auspicious start to a romance. And quite frankly, the theme of the whole story raises my hackles – a boorish male kidnaps a young woman and treats her terribly, but they fall in love and then he turns into a handsome prince. Just writing it out makes me feel a bit sick. Because let’s face it, a boorish man who treats you terribly tends to get worse, not better, as the relationship progresses. And thinking you can change a beast into a price is a dark road to go down.
So why do I love the story so? A line from the song “Beauty and the Beast” by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken best explains my love for this story: “Barely even friends, Then somebody bends Unexpectedly.” I love the unfurling of the relationship, the quiet thrill of two characters discovering one another, and realizing what is most essential about the other person. Is there a book-loving woman alive who doesn’t swoon when The Bet presents Belle with his entire library?
The most wonderful thing about The Lawrence Browne Affair (and there are MANY wonderful things) is that it tells a Beauty and the Beast story without all of the disturbing elements. The Beast – the “mad” Earl of Radnor, does not kidnap Georgie and then scream and yell and frighten his victim just because he is so angry at his own bad choices and where they have led. Yes, Radnor is gruff with Georgie, a secretary he did not invite – and does not want – in his home. Radnor’s manners can be gruff, but evidence of his life-long decency and compassion reveals itself throughout the story. And far from kidnapping Georgie, Radnor has Georgie foisted upon him and once Georgie is there, he just won’t seem to leave.
Once they are together in the crumbling mansion, each man’s personality, history, and motives become less murky, and as they begin to fall for one another, these characters crystalize into unexpectedly brilliant gems. And Sebastian keeps the twists coming throughout the book, as more and more gets revealed about each character, and as the life of each man evolves in tune with the other.
Sebastian has written many books, and I confess I love them all. The Lawrence Browne Affair is my favorite. Each book of hers if sexy, funny, richly poignant, and so deftly written! Each of her books in a stand-alone read and the books in Cat Sebastian series do not need to be read in order. If you are looking for a new author to binge-read, I dare say, you might just have found her. Happy reading, indeed!