November 7, 2016 by kitmoss
REVIEW: The Layered Mask (Masquerade)
by Sue Brown
Don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding this book. I usually include a link to Amazon, but the only copy of this book on it is the old Silver Publishing copy, and we all know they went bye-bye three years ago at least. Fortunately, thanks to the folks at Dreamspinner, the book is been published again and you can get it on Dreamspinner’s website. I hope Amazon can get this figured out too.
This Regency-era romance has as one of its bonuses the realism of men hiding from discovery. It is surprising how many recently written in historical novels have trouble with this, especially when fiction allows so much wiggle room for authors. This is a perfect example. The closeted homosexual community has a private refuge created by a couple of men who needed a place to meet along with their friends. Those who were indiscreet very likely would wind up as did Lord Downe’s friend narrowly escaping hanging and being abandoned by his society. Someone like Downe knows that his father’s command that he wed is truly what he must do, and in fact is what most of these men did. They kept their clandestine affairs quite clandestine, if they were lucky. All Downe knows is that he will have to betray zone principles and be unfaithful to his wife, being unable to be with any man.
The very clever Lord Nash steps in, who has a widowed sister who really doesn’t want to be married again. As Nash and Downe slowly become attached to one another, it appears that the sister might be interested in an arrangement. Of course the likelihood that a gay man would have such a sister, while a convenient plot point for books like this, the likelihood is actually fairly slim. But fortunately for us fans of MM fiction it is still useful and satisfying. It can be overdone, however. It really is up to us readers to make the allowance.
All pairings are likely to have a more active and more passive partner, though sometimes the contrast is unrealistically strong. Sometimes reading these books, one gets the feeling that a brief walk-through Regency society would confront one with a lot of these couples. The more I read the more convinced I am that it’s a happy dream but a dream nonetheless.
Review written by Christopher Hawthorne Moss