Thursday, May 19, 2022

Review: The Servant and the Gentleman by Annabelle Greene

The Servant and the Gentleman by Annabelle Greene
Series: Society of Beasts, Book 3
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Male/Male Historical Romance 
The Servant and the Gentleman cover
ISBN: 9780369717511
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Carina Press

William Hartley’s wealth and social standing often make up for his short temper, but they can’t cure his claustrophobia. He’d lost hope of finding help for it, until meeting Josiah Balfour. In a moment of panic, Josiah’s presence is a balm to his senses, leaving Hartley calm for the first time in months.

Josiah Balfour knows his place—and it’s not in the bed of a gentleman. As the administrator for the Society of Beasts, he’s responsible for the club’s well-being. When a threat to the Society emerges from an unexpected quarter, it falls to Josiah to deal with it. But Hartley is willing to help, even if it involves posing as a couple to infiltrate a rival club.

Josiah needs Hartley’s prestige to help him save the Society, while Hartley simply needs Josiah. Their relationship might be a sham, but the desire between them is all too real. Stuck in close quarters with everything they love on the line, they discover that everything might just include each other.

A fake relationship quickly becomes something much more in The Servant and the Gentleman. Annabelle Greene’s third Society of Beasts novel shows that not everything about the beloved gentlemen’s club is as good as it seems and the book is the richer for it.

Josiah Balfour is the head administrator of the Society of Beasts. He’s used to cleaning up messes, even as members of the club snub him for it because he’s not a gentleman. Josiah is hardworking and kind but he sometimes gets frustrated with the elitist society members he works for. One of the snobbiest is William Hartley, one of the club’s founders. Despite this, Josiah can’t quite stop himself from thinking about the gorgeous man. And when Hartley has a panic attack, Josiah is the one to calm him, which forges the beginnings of a bond between the two. When a rival club threatens the Society of Beasts and Josiah and Hartley pretend to be a couple in order to uncover the leader behind this new club, things become real all too quickly.

I’ll say up front, Hartley isn’t easy to like at first and that’s on purpose. He’s a snob who is rude to servants and anyone he thinks is beneath him. He’s rich, beautiful, and connected and can’t see beyond his own privilege. I wasn’t sure how Greene would make me like him but she did. Josiah opens Hartley’s eyes to his attitude and Hartley isn’t too thrilled with what he sees in himself. I enjoyed watching the peacock become a person, albeit one who is still wholly himself. Josiah is a great hero from the start but he learns to assert himself over the course of the story. Mutual desire helps he and Hartley find common ground and there’s no imbalance of power in their romantic relationship. Greene treads a fine line with this and does so excellently. Josiah gives back as good as he gets and consent is at the forefront of every sensual encounter. The love story between Josiah and Hartley is surprisingly romantic given their beginnings and it was delightful to discover how sweet Hartley could be.

A rival club that is open to men of all classes threatens the Society of Beasts but opens our heroes’ eyes to the flaws of the club. I won’t spoil what happens but suffice it to say I really enjoyed that Greene didn’t sugarcoat that Hartley and his co-founders were elitist. They’re not bad men at heart but with Josiah’s help they come to see how to become better people.

The Servant and the Gentleman is an entertaining romance with well-crafted characters and a wonderfully satisfying ending. I hope Greene pens more books set in this world as there are definitely secondary characters I would love to see get their chance to shine.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.