Behind Locked Doors, Nicholas Kinsley
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Historical, BDSM, Erotic, Romance
Length: 58,000 Words
Reviewer: Kazza K
Edward Taylor is a man torn between his honourable façade and his forbidden carnal desires. Outwardly a proper Victorian family man, Edward secretly craves pain and lusts after men. Isaac Sinclair is a struggling writer forced by poverty to supplement his income with less savory pursuits, including discreetly inflicting “professional punishments” upon wealthy gentlemen. When Edward catches Isaac in an act of petty theft, the chance meeting seems to offer an ideal opportunity for both men. Neither man, however, is prepared for the escalation of social and personal risk occasioned by falling in love.
(M/M – For content labels and excerpt, see details on publisher’s site.)
Behind Locked Doors is set in Victorian London, approximately around the latter part of the 1800’s into the early 1900’s – it is hard to pin down as the book is quite non-linear – current, eight years earlier, current, six years earlier, one and a half years earlier, current etc.
Edward is same-sex attracted, likes being dominated – he enjoyed the cane at school and made sure to get into trouble often so he could experience it. At an all boys boarding school he also got to fool around with other same-sex attracted boys. Now he is married to a French woman, Marie, who he met on his “gay exploration” of Paris when he was twenty three and she eighteen. He wasn’t looking for a wife, made friends with the exuberant, charming and forthright Marie, and decided she would be the right person to marry for respectabilities sake. Edward is the bastard child of a well-to-do businessman and was taken in by him and his actual wife. I presumed it was because his father only had a daughter with his wife and Edward was a son (bastard or not) he could educate and raise to take over the family business.
Edward deliberately keeps himself aloof from others in his class for the very fact that he is a bastard, he is same-sex attracted and he has desires that others would not understand. He also feels trapped between the upper and lower classes. So he feigns a greater snobbery than the others to keep them at arms length. When he meets Isaac, Isaac is stealing loaves of bread and Edward likes what he sees in him so he kind of blackmails him into taking him on for his predilections to be met. A say ‘kind of’ because it really isn’t blackmail as Isaac already renders this service – working with submissive men – and Edward is another to add to his client base. Initially. Yes, he’s a writer hoping for a break, but he is also a dominant master for men who don’t want to risk a brothel and the punishment that could come their way if caught – just think Oscar Wilde. So Isaac’s flat is a much safer setting, and he’s discreet.
Isaac was not so easy to get a handle on as the book was really through Edward’s eyes, so I didn’t learn a lot about Isaac. What I knew of him I liked. He was more concerned about Peter, Edward’s son, than Edward, for the most part, and he grounded Edward.
We are not wicked people for this, simply good people put into an unfortunate situation. And, as our misfortune dictates, it is indeed what society would expect us to do, what we must do in order to remain free men. Our affections must remain behind locked doors, never to see the light of day.
The relationship with Edward was sexy, the domination nothing brutal but exactly what Edward needed – caning, spanking, being tied up, orgasm delay, oral play, and more, as the relationship developed. In terms of a sexy read, mission accomplished – including the kink of silk stockings on Isaac… and Edward’s reaction to them, always a winner for me.
He wore nothing but a pair of stockings that rose to mid-thigh, and suspenders a little ways above to hold them up. His cock, half hard and glorious as the head began to peer through the foreskin, seemed perfectly framed between his silk-clad legs, and fuck if Edward hadn’t seen anything more beautiful than Isaac leaning back on his hands in a wanton V.
While I enjoyed Behind Locked Doors for the most part, there were a couple of niggles.
I didn’t enjoy the non-linear timeline of events. Often there was nothing marking current-time after a memory/flashback. However, all shifts back in time were noted.
I didn’t like Edward – without any thought – introducing his wife, Marie, to his lover, Isaac, when they were at the theatre. Bad enough you are in a loveless marriage without being introduced to someone, even unwittingly, who your husband is having an affair with. And when you do find out, people are hurt so much more by a face to a name.
I did not like the way Edward, the adult, felt his son didn’t like/ love him. Your six year old loves you. Trust me, even the most abusive parents are loved by their six year old child/ren. That Peter, his son, caught his father kissing Isaac, and Edward warned him (gave him glares on occasion) about not speaking of it was appalling. I understand the times, I understand the setting, I understand the circumstances, and empathised. However, to make a child keep a secret from the other parent, to allow it to be seen when you are minding your child in the first place, is quite selfish and did not endear Edward to me. He was so bogged down by the hell he felt was his life, wanting to be with Isaac and not being able to be, he often overlooked his role as a parent. Not all the time, he worried about Peter going to boarding school and being bullied, perhaps having his ‘desires,’ but he wasn’t top-notch father material.
Fifty pounds is mentioned on several occasions as Isaac’s fee. In the Victorian era, fifty pounds was a large income. A skilled professional in that period would have been paid around three hundred to seven hundred pounds for the entire year – but I am no historian, so maybe the author knows something I don’t. It was never mentioned if fifty pounds was a session, that would have been pretty unlikely but it read like that’s what it was, if so, it would have allowed him to live in (very) nice accommodation as opposed to his poor, cold, dungeon of a flat, and why bother being a writer? He had a number of gentlemen callers, fifty pounds a session/a year from each would have enabled Isaac to be set up and live quite comfortably, so that confused me, no matter which way I looked at it.
The fee is fifty pounds. Isaac had purred into his ear around the corner from the bakery shop. Regardless of what punishment you like, or special requests. My only rule is no buggering.
Here Edward had felt a rush of heat shoot through him, as Isaac’s breath brushed his ear. The fee is fifty pounds.
Nicholas Kinsley has written an interesting and erotic historical BDSM romance. There were some lovely quotable lines. The style of writing lent itself to the era quite nicely. He made the MCs pretty much men of their times and he allowed a fitting end. I did struggle with Edward’s characterisation, and Isaac wasn’t fully fleshed out either, and since characterisations are a huge part of my personal reading experience, it detracted somewhat from other aspects. Having said that, the author tapped into difficulties facing two men in love with one another and their predilections/kink at that time. This is a first-time published author and I look forward to more in the future.
ARC supplied by the author in return for an honest review.