First off: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m a terrible person. I was a little caught up in real life last month so my blog sort of fell to the wayside. And I apologise immensely for that. So, I’m back this month, hopefully with a far better effort towards blog updates. My authortube will also be launching this month which I am super excited about AND all my social media will be going through a rebrand! Lots of fun stuff to look forward to! I have so many things to catch you all up on. But that is for later. Today, I just want to do a good, old-fashioned, book review… Or, maybe it will be less of a review and more me raving about how much I love J.L. Langley, I’m not sure yet. Either way, I want book reviews to be something I do a couple of times a month from now on, force me to read a bit more frequently.
Here we go!
My Fair Captain by J. L. Langley
I believe I have mentioned previously, at least in my ‘About’ page if not in a blog post, that I am a huge fan of J.L. Langley’s Sci-Regency series. In case you didn’t know, however, I am a huge, huge, HUGE fan of those books.
For anybody who doesn’t know, the Sci-Regency series is a science-fiction, M/M romance series set on a planet where the culture is based off of regency era England. Just think about that for a moment. Sci-fi, so we’re talking space ships, blasters, super-duper cool technology, outer space wars and battles. But also, regency period, so balls, men in top hats and morning coats and cravats, swords, dashing gentlemen, beautiful ladies, court intrigue, horse riding. Now, think of the two combined: how mind-blowingly awesome does that sound? It really is mind-blowingly awesome, even before you consider that Regelence, the main planet the stories are set on, is a patriarchal society where the aristocracy is about ninety-five percent gay men. That just makes it about perfect in my opinion.
So, Regelence is ruled by King Stephen Townsend and King-Consort Raleigh Townsend (excuse me while I sigh dramatically for a moment. I adore Raleigh. And I adore their relationship. So cute.). Together they have five children: Rexley (Lord Responsible), Payton (Lord Plague), Aiden (Lord Audacious), Colton (Lord Calamity), and Tarren (Lord Terror). Stephen is basically Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice, so the series is about his kids finding their true loves and living happily ever after. There is also a couple of subplots weaving through all of the stories, tying them together. It’s everything I love in a series.
Alright, now you know the world of Sci-Regency.
Anybody who has read the books probably knows that J.L. Langley’s publisher went out of business a little while ago (like, right around the time she finished book #4 in the series which was super frustrating because it already felt like I’d been waiting forever for it and then I had to wait even longer. I’m impatient. Sorry.) and we have all been waiting with bated breath for her to find a new publisher so we could all go back to enjoying the heck out of the Townsends and their various romances.
It finally happened this year and we found out that not only were we going to get the new books she is working on soon, but that she has edited and added some extra scenes to the three previously published books. Hearing that was like Christmas. I get some of my favourite books back in print AND there’s new content in them? Gimme *grabby hands*.
So! Book #1 in the Sci-Regency series, My Fair Captain, was re-published on May 29 and last week (on my birthday no less) I finally received my paperback copy and I devoured it within a few hours.
First things first: look at this cover! I love this cover. It perfectly captures the blend of regency-era themes and sci-fi setting. And the little Sci-Regency series crest makes me super happy. Also, the model for Aiden is cute. I love him.
Now, onto actually reviewing the story.
Largely, it is the same story. Nate Hawkins, and Intergalactic Navy Captain, is sent to planet Regelence to investigate stolen weapons and falls in love with Prince Aiden, King Stephen and King-Consort Raleigh’s third son, and in the meantime stumbles upon an even more nefarious plot that continues through the rest of the series.
There is, however, an additional sub-plot inserted into the book which I’m hoping will become more important in following books that wasn’t in the first edition of this book. There is a war in the Aquarius System (Regelence and Englor are in the Aries System) and I’m hoping we’re going to learn more about that war later on because I love sub plots. I really do. So kudos for the new tidbit that caught my attention.
There are a few new scenes which I really loved, especially the new scenes involving Wentworth. Book #3, My Regelence Rake, is my favourite of the series and I fell utterly in love with Sebastian Hastings in that book and I was so glad to see more of him in this book, especially his interactions with Nate. They’re similar in a few ways and so I always thought they should be friends. And I also loved the new little bits with Trouble, Nate’s adopted son, because he is such a wonderful character and anything involving him is high on my list of things I love about this series.
Something that bothered me during my reading, however, was the change in the dynamic of Aiden and Nate’s relationship. In the original story, Nate is a Dom and their relationship involved aspects of BDSM (Aiden referred to Nate as ‘Sir’ both in and out of the bedroom, and there were a lot of kinky sex scenes). I really loved that about them, it gave them and interesting dynamic while still allowing them to have a sweet, and beautiful relationship. I was a little upset that in this new edition, their relationship is vanilla and there is only the barest hint of kink (a mention of spanking in the final chapter).
J.L. Langley explained her decision to remove the BDSM as being because the characters changed over time and she no longer felt that it fit them. I respect her decision as a writer, they are her characters and she needs to stay true to the way they feel to her. However, part of her explanation for why it no longer fit them was because Nate showed himself to be a very devoted and loving husband. Now, I could have just read her words wrong and taken the context incorrectly but I have to disagree with the implication that being involved in BDSM, Nate being Aiden’s Dom as well as his husband, would mean he is less devoted and loving. There is nothing less true. The level of trust and commitment involved in BDSM relationships would emphasise how devoted and loving Nate is. And I never saw Nate as stoic or harsh, always as somebody sweetly infatuated with Aiden. I loved their relationship so much, and I love it more with every appearance they make in Aiden’s brothers’ stories, and I’m disappointed that an aspect of their relationship that I really loved is now gone.
As I said, though, I respect Langley’s decision as a writer, but I’m still sad. I understand why she made this choice and it’s not as if it ruins the story, they’re still the same wonderful characters. I’m just going to be sad that Aiden won’t be referring to Nate as ‘Sir’ anymore – and making his sire super uncomfortable when he does it.
Something else I really enjoyed about this new edition is that it flowed more freely. It was a smoother read than the first edition. It feels like Langley was more comfortable with the story, the world, and the characters during her time revising the story and so it was more comfortable to read. The tone felt more like book #3, My Regelence Rake, which when I read it for the first time, came across as a more comfortably written novel, probably because it was the third in the series and she had had more time to get used to the characters and world she was working in. That’s, of course, simply my opinion, but it is the way the book felt to me.
Overall, I really loved it. I loved feeling as though I was getting to enjoy one of my favourite series for the first time again. Reading J.L. Langley’s romances feels like sitting down with a mug of hot tea clasped in your hands, and looking out on a beautiful morning. It feels warm and cosy and content. Even when the characters are going through their angsty patches, you just know everything is going to end up alright, and you’re only eager to keep turning the pages until you reach that HEA.
Book #2 The Englor Affair comes out at the end of August and I’ll review it once I’ve read it as well. I’m looking forward to getting through these three re-issues so I can get to what I have been waiting ages for and that is book #4, Diplomatic Relations and what I am sure is going to be a tumultuous affair between the Towsends’ cousin Dalton Fairfax and Blaise Thompson. I am so eager, you have no idea.