Friends since childhood, William Drake and Jack Morgan have only ever had each other. Growing up in the slums of London, they had to scrap and scrape to get by, sometimes doing unsavory things, but somehow still managed to protect one another and give each other a measure of comfort. As they grew older Jack decided he wanted to pursue an honest position and through hard work eventually became the driver to the Duke of Pelham. Will kept closer to his roots and chose to keep making his way by gambling and earning a few coins by occasionally servicing men in alleyways. Judging Will on his choices and worried that eventually his friend’s activities would catch up to him, Jack finally leaves Will behind. Now they rarely see each other, Jack pretty much only comes around when he needs help with a job for his employer.
It’s on one such evening that Jack visits Will asking for help tracking down a man for a friend of the Duke. The two reconnect somewhat and end up spending even more time together when Jack is ordered to keep an eye on the Duke’s lover. Will has always been in love with his best friend. He knows their groping and fumbling in the dark as teenagers meant more to him than they did to Jack. Now he finally has his chance to spend some quality time with his friend before Jack takes off to the Duke’s country estate and Will takes all the money he’s saved over the years and gets he hell out of London. After all a few nights is better than nothing.
I love Ava March’s historical romances. I especially enjoyed the first book in this series, All in with the Duke. Sharp Love tells the story of his driver, Jack Morgan. If you’ve read the first book then you will recognize some of the scenes, as these stories do overlap somewhat. When reading All in with the Duke, I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to get to Jack’s story. He’s this big, strapping man who is incredibly loyal to his boss and helps him out with no questions asked. Jack and Will have quite the history. Taking care of each other in their youth, trying to carve out a life out of next to nothing. This is the kind of story I really enjoy, friends to lovers, protagonists with a history, lots of emotion and angst.
For most of this book Jack and Will have misunderstandings and hurt between them. Even as their relationship is slowly developing into more, they have a hard time communicating about their feelings. Jack frustrated me at first. He clearly judges Will over and over for his choices. Yes, they weren’t the best of choices. He counts cards, makes his living gambling and on occasion takes men into dark alleys to suck them off. Ok, Will makes really, really bad choices, but he is the only real friend Jack has ever had. Will practically saves him growing up. He befriends him at a time when he had no one, and began doing the things he does to make ends meet and keep food in their bellies when they would have otherwise starved. I will admit to being offended on Will’s behalf. Yet…. Jack is in an impossible situation as well. Secretly in love with his best friend and ashamed of his need to be submissive in the bedroom. After all, what man of his size and strength enjoys being told what to do in the bedroom. He’s shy, unsure and hasn’t tried to have sex with another man in six years. At the same time I was offended for Will, I could kind of understand Jack’s desperate need to better himself.
There is slight D/s play between these two. Nothing too hard-core, so if that isn’t your thing don’t worry. The sex scenes are passionate and erotic, but there aren’t any paddles or whips. Just Will telling Jack what to do and when to do it. It’s quite sexy actually. I liked the connection between this couple. They have a long history, a lot of anger and so much hidden longing. Each hope that the other wants something more, but is afraid to ask. Afraid that they won’t ever see their friend again if they admit their thoughts and feelings. But of course if they want to build any kind of future together they have to let themselves be vulnerable.
My worry with historical m/m romances is always that the HEA or even the HFN ending won’t be believable. As much as I would like to see my main characters in love and riding off into the sunset, in this time period that just isn’t an available option. Jack and Will do have a happily ever after and it was one I could actually imagine happening at that time. Final Grade- B
“I’d do anything for you, Will,” Jack said, the low rumble of his voice wrapping around Will.
“And I for you. I love you, Jack.”