“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
After ten years as a spy for his country, Earl William Richmond, of 'Acceptable Lies' by CM Corett, comes home to manage his estate. His greatest joy is his son, Thomas, with whom he spends many happy hours. William thinks he has all he needs, that is, until he rescues a handsome young man, Daniel, who is washed up on a nearby beach. Being with Daniel, throws William's neat, orderly life into chaos by unfamiliar and disconcerting feelings and he is not sure what to do with them.
William takes Daniel to his home to recover and offers him the choice of staying for however long it takes for him to feel well again. Daniel pretends to have amnesia, afraid that if William knows why he left home, he would, at the least, withdraw his offer and at worst, have him arrested for sodomy. Since Daniel has a head wound, no one is suspicious about his memory loss. Daniel is charming and quickly endears himself to everyone there, especially Thomas, who thinks more of him as a playmate than another adult in the household. Daniel loves spending time with Thomas as well, but it's William with whom he'd like to spend “real alone time”. As Daniel grows stronger, he both welcomes and dreads his recovery. Being well will mean he's that much closer to leaving. Since William hasn't a clue how to court a man, Daniel takes the first step but William is a quick learner. Once Daniel helps him see that what they have is a beautiful thing rather than an abomination, William overcomes his reticence and things heat up rather quickly.
William is a kind, generous man, who treats his servants with respect, causing them to be understandably loyal. William is also a wonderful father who delights in riding, rock and shell collecting, or doing anything else that will nurture his son and make him happy. Considering his mysterious past, it's not surprising when he begins to receive threatening blackmail letters. William reacts by pulling everyone in closer to the manor house, ordering the doors to be locked and other areas secured to prevent invasion. Instead of giving in to threats, William, with the help of two comrades, is determined to find and dispense of the troublemakers. Even these precautions aren't enough. William's worst nightmare comes true when both Thomas and Daniel are kidnapped. William, along with his two associates, is determined to get them back, and rides out to punish the men who dared take his family.
Although predictable, the story is engaging and the characters well-developed and likable. Of course, Thomas stole the show with his adorableness, compassion, intelligence, and bravery. Adding a child, especially one as involved as Thomas, made the story even more poignant. If you like a romantic, fairy-tale-like story, filled with action, intrigue, an adorable little boy, two handsome men in love, and a happy ending, you may enjoy this one. Thanks, CM, for an entertaining, relaxing read.