The main characters, Wes and Michael are definitely not cookie-cutter characters. They are damaged and have flaws, but they also have sweetness and courage and I was rooting for them from the very beginning.
Wes is a stutterer and I was concerned that the way the author chose to illustrate this would grate on my nerves, but it never did. Nicely done, Heidi! I found some of the author's vocabulary choices different, but once I got into the novel, they ceased to be remarkable - the story is not set in the year 2012, after all! In retrospect, those choices work very, very well.
Heidi does a great job of creating the atmosphere of the late 1800s, even down to the bleakness in certain corners of society - the opium dens, the poverty, the strictures of what's right and proper.
There were many things I loved about this novel, including the secondary character of Rodger, Wes' plants - especially his orchids, Michael's love of books, Barbara's patience. I loved how the love story flourished and I loved the tenderness between Wes and Michael as much as the bursts of hot sex. The scenes in the libraries were among my favorites and I have to admit to rereading the Oxford one again... and then again. :)
I would have rated A Private Gentleman with 5 stars except that I found the climax, the confrontations and resolution came too fast and too... easily? Yes it's a HEA but everything just fell into place so simply and perfectly that I felt it was kind of a little cheat.
To finish off, I fell in love with Wes and Michael and totally enjoyed their story. Go and read it!!