This one started off kind of slow and I wasn't sure I would be able to like Julien or Courtenay much. Their brief appearances in The Lawrence Browne Affair were too small to really get a fix on Julien, and Courtenay came off a little slimy.
He starts this book in not much of a better light. His reputation has been tarnished, much by his own means, and he's finding himself a social leper after a salacious book written by an unknown author comes out with him cast as the main villain. Courtenay does everything he can to live down to everyone's bad opinions of him. Julien, on the other hand, designs his outward person to ingratiate himself into high society, despite being the son of a merchant and being "cursed" with having to earn a living. He's so preoccupied with appearing proper and perfect at all times that doing anything even remotely scandalous is unthinkable. So what happens when these two buffoons get together?
At first, a lot of frustration. Julien's wrangled into helping Courtenay repair his reputation and Courtenay does not cooperate. Of course, they're both secretly lusting for each other and so of course have to act like they hate each other. The hijinks they get into early on just had be eye rolling because I don't consider that kind of behavior remotely appealing or sexy. I really was worried I wouldn't like this one.
And then the characters got over themselves and started opening up, and secrets started being revealed that explained their motivations, and the story and relationship got a lot better. There's even an interesting subplot involving Julien's sister and her estranged husband that was very well done and didn't feel shoe-horned in. The second half really helped pull the rating back up. I also really appreciated that this ended with Julien and Courtenay in a much more realistic point of their relationship giving the times and their social standings.
Once again, Gary Furlong does a fantastic job narrating. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure I would've finished this. He's become a favorite over the course of this series.