Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new contemporary M/M romance from Fearne Hill. TO HOLD A HIDDEN PEARL is the first book in her new Rossingley series. This story features a young physician coming to terms with his sexuality rather late in his life, and the reclusive earl who is his androgynous and sexy superior in hospital. If you are interested in family drama romances, I’d also recommend THE LAST OF THE MOUSSAKAS by this same author.
Drop down to catch an excerpt, my review and enter for a chance to win a $50 GC.
About the book:
Dr Jay Sorrentino is getting married in ten days’ time to the girl of his dreams, so what the hell is he doing in a gay London club with a stupidly handsome stranger? As if calling off the wedding and alienating his friends and family isn’t enough, Jay also has to contend with starting a new job at a new hospital. So the last thing he needs is for the bloke from the club to be his prickly supervisor.
Dr Lucien Avery is a difficult colleague. He’s also the unexpected and reluctant heir to the vast Rossingley estate. Reclusive and miserable, he hates most of his colleagues, people who eat packed lunches, and supervising junior doctors. That is, until the delectable Dr Sorrentino turns up on his doorstep.
A light-hearted M/M contemporary romance, Rossingley takes place in Southern England and is centred around a fictional country house and estate by the same name. The first in the series, it can be read as a standalone.
How about a yummy taste?
I don’t do nightclubs anymore. It’s not an age thing. Sure, I’m thirty-four, but there are plenty of men and women older than me in here seemingly having a blast. It’s…it’s just that I hoped I’d never need to, I suppose. I think I had this ridiculous notion I’d be happily settled with a great job, an even better loving partner, and a comfortable home. I have the job, and I certainly have the home, not that I particularly wanted it. But the loving partner? Not so much. To be fair, though, I’m quite difficult to love.
So here I am, propping up the wall in Spangles, a club I haven’t visited in years, watching my pissed former work colleagues, Sam and Louis, make complete arses of themselves on the dance floor.
There’s a whole gang of us here. I don’t know any of the others, and I don’t really want to become better acquainted with them either, but Sam has been begging me to come up to London for months and months. He’s been a decent friend since the accident, as much as I’ve let him, and joining him for his boyfriend Louis’s thirtieth birthday is the least I can do to show my appreciation. So I’d downed a few colourful cocktails, which seem to have had no effect on my mood whatsoever, put on my glad rags, done my eyes, and now pretend to be the sexy guy I used to be before my former existence was comprehensively annihilated. And tomorrow, when it’s thankfully all over, I’ll whizz back down the M4 to Allenmouth, and having seen how absolutely spiffily I’m coping, they’ll hopefully leave me alone for a while. I deserve an Oscar for tonight’s performance, but I’m starting to flag. Another ten minutes of hugging the wall and my Campari and soda, and I’ll be on my way.
An enormously tall, Italian Stallion kind of guy gives me a blatant once-over, and my eyes skirt past him. Thanks, but no thanks. Curly black hair, eyes like pools of melted chocolate, bulging shoulder muscles, and a broad chest threatening to break out of his tight white T-shirt. As if at any minute, the T-shirt might rip open and his skin turn an ugly shade of green. As he is, with T-shirt intact, he’s what Americans refer to as a jock. Or an especially buff Danny Zuko. But I’m no simpering Pink Lady. He’s absolutely not my bag at all.
My gaze settles on a little cutie chatting to his friends near the bar. Much more like it, exactly my type of guy. Perfect tight arse in the skinniest of black jeans, and he’s demonstrating the grace of a ballet dancer as he reaches upwards onto his toes to speak into a friend’s ear. Slight of build, and floppy, dirty-blond hair with pink frosted tips. Sensing my interest, he shyly smiles at me, and I look away. We all know the rules to this game, and a few seconds later, I glance back at him. He returns the look at precisely the moment that a protective, possessive arm comes to rest across his narrow shoulders, and the ruggedly handsome owner of that arm plants an adoring kiss on his cheek. With a regretful shrug, the cute guy turns to his companion and is pulled into a loving hug. A keeper for sure, only not my keeper unfortunately. Oh well, c’est la vie.
Gloria Gaynor is belting out ‘I am what I am’ at the top of her lungs. Most definitely my cue to leave. I finish my drink and head to where I last saw Sam and Louis. With a bit of luck, they’ll be so engrossed in each other they’ll let me slip out unnoticed to find a taxi to take me home. As I begin to push through groups of sweaty clubbers, the Italian Stallion guy blocks my path. And I mean blocks—he’s broad and beefy. He’s giving me another once-over, this time anxious, through thick black lashes, and his liquid-brown eyes are strangely as skittish as a colt’s. I make to squeeze by. But his big hand reaches around, catching me unawares, settles firmly around my wrist, and I’m tugged towards a dark corner of the club. Granted, it’s an unconventional hook-up technique, but I’m pissed enough and curious enough to go with it—perhaps in the dim light, he’s mistaken me for my cousin Freddie; it wouldn’t be the first time. We both have rather striking features.
So it seems that now he’s got me here, he’s not quite sure what it is he wants. He hovers in front of me, one hand resting lightly at my hip, and I can’t tell if he’s very nervous or very drunk. I’m happy to wait; I’ve nothing better to do. Anyway, I’m mildly intrigued as I have a feeling that, like me, he doesn’t really belong. He licks his lips once—yes, definitely nervous—and it draws attention to his fine mouth, a full Cupid’s bow, now glistening wetly. The sort of generous wide mouth made for laughing. Or cock sucking. I’m focusing on those lips now because the background thump of Ms Gaynor makes audible speech nigh on impossible.
“Can I suck your cock?” he asks.
Dr. Lucian Avery is the reluctant 16th earl of Rossingley, a title he never expected, nor desired. See, he inherited his land and title about 18 months ago when his father, the 15th earl, mother and elder brother and his young pregnant wife, were all killed in a helicopter crash. Being the “spare” is unpleasant, especially as he’s virtually alone in the world. It’s taken him months to claw his way out of the depression that’s had him living a life of a recluse, only showing up to hospital for part-time duties as a anesthesiologist consultant. He’s 34 years old, and living alone in the small part of the palatial estate of his youth. He’s a feared colleague in the hospital, due to his demanding nature, general unapproachability and aloofness. While up in London, out with some friends from his previous life–before the accident–Lucien is approached by a big, strapping hunk who offers a sexual favor. It’s a good experience, because it takes Lucien out of his seemingly unending misery for a few minutes.
Dr. Jay Sorrentino is a junior consultant who’s a week away from his wedding to the fellow doctor and woman he has been dating form more than 4 years. They have a home and joint bank accounts, and work in the same hospital in Allentown–but Jay has had a lingering suspicion that his growing malaise and disappointment about his impending nuptials is related to his sexual dissatisfaction. Over the past couple of years he’s wondered if he’s gay–but been terrified to acknowledge. A drunken experience in a London gay club has cleared away the morass of his shilly-shallying. Unfortunately, his anonymous bar hook-up turns out to be the supervising consultant on his new training leg in hospital. Jay’s fervent wish that the immaculate, beautiful and demanding Dr. Avery are dashed rather fantastically. Yet, he’s completely intrigued by the prickly man.
This is a sweet and sexy romance as Jay and Lucien develop as strong affection for one another. Jay is conscientious and notices when Lucien is troubled, and is not afraid to approach him, thinking that he’s a man on his own–rightly so. Lucien is so unused to solicitousness, and he needs a person to lean on, given his long grief suffered alone. Jay is attracted to Lucien’s quirks, including his penchant for women’s lingerie and femme affectations. His androgyny holds big appeal to Jay, and over several weeks to months their relationship morphs from one of professional and personal support to a sexual one. Jay’s attraction to Lucien is growing by leaps, but he’s still entangled with his ex-fiance, as they unravel their joint lives. It’s a lot of stress, that Lucien relieves the more intimate they become.
I loved this story, with two interesting and complicated characters–who both need a good friends and partner to lean upon. Their love story is tender and compassionate, as both men are highly educated and compassionate men, per their medical training. It’s so sweet, I was repeatedly reminded that emotional vulnerability is a very sexy look for otherwise powerful men. I look forward to the next book in this series, knowing that it will likely include a different couple.
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About the Author:
Fearne Hill lives deep in the southern British countryside with three untamed sons, varying numbers of hens, a few tortoises, and a beautiful cocker spaniel.
When she is not overseeing her small menagerie, she enjoys writing contemporary romantic fiction. And when she is not doing either of those things, she works as an anaesthesiologist.