His Cocky Valet: A Review
HIS COCKY VALET
Summary: After Ashton’s father is hospitalized, he’s abruptly made the manager of his father’s multibillion-dollar global business. Having spent his days more focused on parties and one night stands than basic adulting, Ashton is ill-prepared for the enormous responsibility of being a CEO. At the advice of a friend, he hires a personal assistant. The older, competent, and very English Brand Forsythe turns out to be so much more than a simple PA.
As McCade (also known as Xen) explains in his afterword, His Cocky Valet was written partly in response to the #cockygate scandal, and I’m fairly certain he wrote the entire novel in a wondrous sprint of creativity that lasted maybe two weeks. Maybe less? I have no idea, only that I was astounded by the speed in which he wrote and self-published the book.
Lots of amazing books get written with feverish haste: A Study in Scarlet, As I Lie Dying, A Clockwork Orange. I think Stevenson penned Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in two weeks, and wasn’t a Babysitters’ Club book completed in a month? I dunno. Moving on.
I feel that a romance written so quickly deserves to be read and reviewed quickly. I read His Cocky Valet in one sitting, which actually wasn’t intended, but I simply saw no reason to put it down. This was my first experience with McCade’s writing, and I was immediately enchanted by his writing style. It reminded me of D.H. Lawrence's prose in its lushness and easy abundance of decadent adjectives. Here is the physical description of Forsythe, the cocky valet of the title:
“He had to be at least six foot four, maybe more, his shoulders all broad, hard angles tapering down to a narrow waist and long legs. The subtle, quiet grace of his angular features was offset by a stubborn, clean-shaven jaw, the glasses at odds with his brutish body to give him a quiet, formal appearance made only more severe by the white gloves on his long, graceful hands. The late afternoon sunlight through the office’s windows glinted off his glasses, and gave a subtle gloss to the backsweep of smoothly combed, glossy hair in a muted, soft pale golden brown touched at the temples and scattered throughout with threads of silver.”
The language through is flowing, luxurious, and sensual. Simultaneously, though, the book offers an emotional honesty that made the story immediately compelling. It’s a whole lot of romantic tropes readers have likely encountered before: billionaire heir, attentive butler archetype, a touch of D/s relationship dynamics. But from the first page there’s an attention paid to the characters’ internal worlds that lends itself to literary fiction.
“There was both desire and shame in this, in wanting so desperately, in feeling so deeply, in begging so brazenly.”
His Cocky Valet is a character study paired happily with heady, flushed erotic romance. The sex scenes are enjoyable even for a much-desensitized reader because of the memorable dynamism of the leading men. The book plays with power dynamics, both in the obvious ways and in the figurative language woven throughout its passages.
Ashton is rich but Brand holds the real power; Ashton might be more sexually experienced, but next to to Brand he seems naïve; Ashton is compared to royalty throughout—Brand describes his features as princely, he describes himself as the pretend prince of his father’s cooperation, and yet it is Brand who is prim and proper, and, frankly, English af. I loved the constant play of contrasts and inverses, the way the dynamics shifted throughout the story, power never fully falling into either of their hands.
His Cocky Valet is steamy, heartfelt, and delicious, and whether you care about #cockygate or not, I wholeheartedly recommend it.