The Brotherhood of Philander is basically a gay club. A historical gay club. In a time when sodomy was a crime punishable by death, men needed a safe place to be themselves. A few enterprising gentlemen created the club and its been thriving ever since. Andrew is a member of this club and although he prefers the company of men over women, he does realize he needs to get married and beget an heir. And he knows his qualifications for a bride are going to be hard to meet. He tells his incredulous friends about his plans and his qualifications and lo and behold, someone knows just the girl!
Phyllida is the practical girl, living in the country, writing, that Andrew's friend declares he must at least meet. And Andrew takes the journey to go meet Phyllida and he is very impressed with her. It's not just her looks (she's nice and curvy, lush you could say) but her rapier wit. Sparks fly between these two and at their first meeting they're already getting hot and heavy. Andrew demands they marry posthaste. He's not one for wasting time.
Phyllida and Andrew marry and get to know each other. They're extremely compatible in bed and even outside of it. But Phyllida has an issue with the way Andrew tries to boss her around. He's so arrogant and doesn't even realize! He thinks it's his due to act the way he does. And he's jealous of her! He takes a lover a bit after their marriage and is jealous when his lover enjoys Phyllida's company as well. Not in bed, but at dinner! He's not jealous of his lover, but he's jealous of Phyllida. Let me tell you, I LOVED this contradiction in Andrew.
And then Andrew meets Matthew. He and Matthew are also extremely compatible and so is Matthew and Phyllida. Matthew can see where Andrew keeps making mistakes with Phyllida and he decides to champion her. Now you have to understand - only Andrew is sleeping around. This was part of his agreement with marrying Phyllida. She was to remain true to him (to provide him a legitimate heir) but since she's so practical, she knows his tastes also run towards men and so does not begrudge him his male lovers. So I thought this was an interesting twist. We read about ménage a trois where all 3 people sleep together, but not in this case. Only Andrew gets the pleasure. LOL But Phyllida gets turned on by seeing Andrew interact with his lovers...which isn't really explored. It's hinted at towards the end, with Andrew and Matthew, but before that, it's something Phyllida does (watching Andrew with someone else).
Ok - I have to admit, I thought this book was quirky and I really liked it. Andrew like I said was jealous over Phyllida. (And we know I love a little bit of jealousy.) Check out this scene:
Andrew, strolling at the edge of the room, heard the laughter through the music and conversation as if all other sounds had been cut off. How long had it been, he wondered, since Phyllida had laughed, or shown any pleasure at all? Why did it pierce his heart so to imagine that she could be cheerful again, but only when she was not with him? He saw Matthew, his head thrown back and his chest out, strutting in the dance, smiling into the eyes of--Damn it, it was. His deceitful, feigning meek wife was flirting. Flirting with his lover.
LMAO!! She's flirting with HIS lover and he's jealous!
Also, Andrew falls in love with two people in this book. I really liked that. Each was different but perfect for him in their way. And I enjoyed how it played out. And Ann's writing style - love it! I imagine if Georgette Heyer wrote today and wrote sex scenes, her work would be similar to this.
What didn't work for me? There's a spy/entrapment subplot that leads to some misunderstandings. So because of that, I'm giving Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander 3 stars. I know this will be a book I will pick up and read again. It was delightful. And watch, I'll have even more stuff to gush about when I do!