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This review will cover the three-book Hunt Club Series composed of: Almost an Equal, Barely a Master, and Hardly a Stranger.
This review setup seems to want me to review this trilogy purchased as a set, as individual books. I prefer to do it this way because I never go into more than general detail. This set has overlapping characters, which is a delight. It is also "rigidly correct" to the mores and foibles of that period in history - which gives even more cachet to an M/M novel.
Besides the conflicts of the characters, there is the conflict of the times: gay men were hung by the neck until dead if discovered, no lie. This sets the scene for bigger stakes. To be poor, or even less than rich, to be of a "lesser class" of any kind - and the Brits were stupidly class hysterical, as well as "precedence" driven provides a world with many barriers and few easy liaisons!
So, costume drama, with settings worthy of the time to read, a world of fakers and kings, along with all the usual romantic plots and problems enrich these stories. They're few and far between to find, so savor slowly.
I enjoy this time period in England and wanted to try a gay historical romance. The setting did not disappoint, but the polite putdowns, the best part of Jane Austen's books or Downton Abbey for that matter, were lacking. The first story was interesting, but the villain so vile that it was shocking to see he was the main character of the second...particularly with not having to atone for his behavior. But, the story was entertaining, if not believable.
I was glad that there was romance involved in these stories. Yeah, two hot guys who can't keep their hands off each other are sexy, but those stories feel largely interchangeable after a while. There was pleasant character development, and the sex wasn't seen as a gay novelty. Sexy, romantic, and respectfully done, in my opinion.