4.5* Some mild spoilers below!
This was a fresh, very enjoyable read, which except for one or two niggles really warmed my heart.
I absolutely adored the balance of plot and character development, it was perfect. I sat on the edge of my chair even though I'm not (anymore) into paranormal or horror tales, still I was quite invested in the PNR plot of this and wanted things to be unravelled and come to closure. It wasn't that dime a dozen a plot either, there were several twists the results of which I never saw coming.
All three main characters, shy Percival, broken Griffin and beard Christine, were absolutely completely delicious. I loved and love them and this is a book I definitely will reread. I adored that on the romantic side of the plot there was like 80% less sex than your average m/m.
Not just that, this time the author fairly managed to keep in character and have the sexual experience build comparatively slowly,
I adored how the author played for once really and truly with UST and allowed the intimacy to unfold slowly.
By the way: nice cover! Fitting that there are no headless chunks of meat on a slab.
While I'd say that some of the language and locations and a few expressions were slightly wrong or anachronistic for the era, it was never truly taking me out of the story. I loved reading an author who acknowledged that "cock" was considered an unspeakable word at the time, at least by a well-mannered person and who used "member" instead in most of Percival's inner dialogue. Not just that it was fully in character, it is also delightful to be spared the usually hopelessly vulgar prose of many m/m stories for once. The spare uses of "cock" when they happened were perfectly picked to show how Percy was approaching sexuality at last.
The niggles. There were few: I would like for the author to take greater care to eradicate any anachronisms. I disliked the old hairy trope of the big misunderstanding when it came. I'd have wished for something else to be used in the climax. The slight touch of Mary-Sueishness to Percival in the brothel scene and later during the showdown. A bit less on both these occasions I'd have just as believed and found enough of a character development.
All of this is not enough to detract more than half a star here. Let me be blunt, of course this book doesn't really compare with some of the masterpieces I gave 5* to. But that's not how I grade. I look at "what the plan is", meaning at what a book wants to be, and I grade within that scope. I do not really compare a book like this with Shakespeare or Mary Renault. So yes, I can and do give it 5* and hope the author keeps writing such fresh stories!