Their Private Arrangement (Taskill Witches, #1.5) - Saskia Walker My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

This novella is a follow-up of The Harlot, kind of a round up for three secondary characters there. This goes simultaneously with the story of The Harlot, after the part where Gregor (H) takes Jessie (h) to Drover Inn in Fife. There they meet the servant girl, Morag, who used to help Jessie (and any other ladies might stay there) with dresses and so on. There is a scene between Jessie and Morag in that one, which of course I won’t be mentioning here. *heehee* :p

Anyway, we’ve also met the 2 Hs of this book, James Grant, the excise man to the crown and his secret young lover, the field worker. His name wasn’t mentioned there but it’s Duggan Moore. I’m not sure if I should call James an H for this novella because he was more under Duggan’s spell and kinda obeyed him, for obvious reason. James is homosexual and the time being the early 18th century Scotland with witch-hunts going on everywhere, it’s not the best of times to reveal that he’s gay. This novella tells us how he and Duggan met and gradually worked on this relationship then taking to the intimate level. I’ve never read an M/M novel ever before so The Harlot gave me an exclusive view of such a relationship (a scene between these two ;) ). Though I won’t be trying any M/M books (unless it’s a less important part of a novel, the way it was in The Harlot) in the future, neither would I try any ménages for that matter. I was really interested to know how these three came together and got a real good answer in return.

So more or less, as the blurb said, Morag was always interested in Duggan, for a long time it seems. Though she’s no blushing virgin, Duggan would always make her go weak. She and the alewife of the inn know about this relationship but are paid highly by Grant to keep their mouths shut. Now that was a bummer for Morag because she didn’t think Duggan would be interested in her. But, soon this proves wrong. One day, while taking Grant’s dinner up, she shares an ‘encounter’ with Duggan, who afterwards tells her that he wants her. Morag can’t believe it but she’s interested. Oh she’s a bold lass, that one and she doesn’t mind Duggan and Grant’s relationship. I liked her logic behind it though.

Duggan is actually a bisexual. He’s brought up to think he’d marry someday and have kids. He’s been with women too though I wasn’t not sure if Grant was his first male lover. Though he really enjoys his relationship with Grant, he wants a female too and Morag has been in his mind for a long time. So, he talks to Grant about it but also quelling ‘effectively’ any of Grant’s confusion about the state of their relationship. I did feel that Duggan was interested in Morag because he sorta knew that Morag is adventurous; enough to try a ménage (M/M/F) and she won’t tell anyone. Grant would do anything to make Duggan happy since it’s not often that he finds a partner, certainly no one as good and passionate as Duggan. Then they talk to Morag and yep, she’s willing to try.

The first sex scene was kind of a tutorial for Grant on a woman’s anatomy, lolz. I found it arousing and funny at the same time since the guy had no experience with women. Duggan wanted him to know and gave him a ‘show’! And it goes on (sadly without anymore scenes) and all of them are happy with this little arrangement. Then, the bailies come in search of Jessie (though it’s not mentioned here but if you read The Harlot, you’ll see how it’s related...) and Morag helps her and Gregor to runaway because she really liked them both. She’s now scared for her ‘menfolk’ and their secret arrangement. Next, they talk about the current situation. Duggan already talked to Grant about a possible solution, of which they inform Morag. She agrees and then they go to ‘act’ on that. Well, er... that scene was... er, I’ll leave it to you to imagine. *blinks*

The problem was, as it was a short story, I wasn’t convinced that they’d be able to keep it secret for long or even if their arrangement would work. So, I wanted a full novel where the author would convince me that it can be possible at a time like that. I had other questions too but that’s not important. What matters is, I liked it and as usual, loved SW’s writing style. A 3.75 star.