The Manservant by Michael Harwood

 The Manservant

If you are picking up this book thinking that it will be laden with an ‘upstairs downstairs’ sort of feel and theme, that is not what you are getting. Harwood’s debut novel is focused on Anthony Gowers,  a man wholly invested in the fulfillment of special requests of the guests, first to the upscale hotel guests for whom he works, and then later for a lord inside his country estate.

I liked Anthony: perfectly well-suited to his procurement, he isn’t easily shocked or bothered by the particular requirements requested of him. Dancing that line between close-lipped obsequious service to rather bawdy and snide interior monologues, Anthony likes the good life and all that it comes to afford him.  When a particular request ends up as tabloid fodder, the well-heeled gentlemen caught in the scandal pressures the hotel to let Anthony go.

Needing a position to maintain his lifestyle, and with his experience including a footman for the Royals, Anthony’s new employer Lord Shanderson, offers him a position of some esteem.  When Anthony is requested to produce for Shanderson’s varied interests, the questions about where his life has led, and what options may be available should this position be one step too many.

Anthony’s retelling of the stories, and the repeated M/M conquests, some laden with BDSM elements are notable for their frequency and the efforts that all parties make to keep them a secret. Anthony’s role as the keeper of these many secrets is a dangerous one: in service to the wealthy and privileged, whispered words in the right ears could end any hopes he has of employment or career.  While there is nothing overtly shocking in any of the encounters, Harwood gives that sly wink and nod in the attempts everyone seems to make to ignore the realities of their situations, while not out rightly condemning either the acts or the men.  Beautifully written with insets of protocol and proper form that only add to the very “Britishness” of the story, this is a story that shows the writer’s skill and abilities, making him one to watch on my lists.

The Manservant by Michael Harwood

Title: The Manservant
Author: Michael Harwood
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published by: Kensington
ISBN: 1617733116
Published on: 24 February 2015
Format:eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 304
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 16 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Heat: One FlameOne FlameOne FlameOne Flame

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In this bitingly witty, saucy, acutely observed debut novel, Michael Harwood pulls back the damask drapes to reveal life among the modern aristocracy--upstairs, downstairs, and occasionally, behind stairs...

Anthony Gowers assists guests at a high-end London hotel with the kind of requests that can't be filled from a room-service menu. His reward: lavish tips and a closet full of cashmere. Then a client's after-hours entertainment ends in a tabloid scandal, and Anthony quickly becomes the city's best-dressed unemployed person. . .

In desperation, Anthony takes a position in the countryside as personal butler to Lord Shanderson. As a former Royal footman, Anthony is well versed in the peerage's peculiar ways. But Castle Beadale conceals an abundance of intrigue behind its stately doors. On the surface, Lord Shanderson is a model English gentleman--with a few personal interests that Anthony is sure the absent Lady Shanderson knows nothing about. But when the horrendously high-maintenance Lady Shanderson returns, tempers will flare, secrets will be exposed, and Anthony must decide whether the perks of privilege he's enjoyed are worth the price he's compelled to pay. . .

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Michael Harwood

Michael Harwood is one of the UK’s most sought after private chefs, with clients on both sides of the Atlantic as well as a twice-published cookbook author.

After twenty years of cooking for the rich and famous, his first novel will be published by Kensington in 2015.

 

 

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