3.75 stars rounded up
A Fashionable Indulgence is the first installment of a new series, A Society of Gentleman, from the marvelous K.J. Charles, released by Penguin Random House digital only imprint, Loveswept. As far as my knowledge, the series will be a trilogy, featuring the gentlemen from the Ricardians group of friends.
I will be honest to say that this book was NOT a smooth sailing reading experience for me. I struggled a bit in the beginning because the historical context – it sets in London in 1819, with the backdrop of political radicalism around the country – was a bit too ‘far’ for me to comprehend. I am an Indonesian, and my history lesson in school didn’t really cover the ins and outs of specific moments in other country’s history. I didn’t have good frame of reference in mind regarding the domestic turbulent situation after Napoleonic War in England, nor could I actually understand what the whole Ricardians gentlemen were all about. I had to Google-d some things to help me gaining more understanding, including the St. Peter’s Field Massacre.
On top of that, I never really care about the life of the “society of gentlemen” or the regency in general. In the beginning, it was quite delightful to think of Julius Norreys teaching Harry Vane on how to talk, to act, to dress like a gentleman. I kept imagining Julius shouting “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!” for Harry to follow *laugh*. However, after a while, it bored me to hell. I couldn’t care less about what buttons go with what coats or what color of waistcoat to wear (did I care enough about PUCE? Nope!), or why onyx button is better than ivory, or why gilt button should be worn in one specific occasion. And what the HECK is Titus and Cherubin hairstyle anyway?!
Let’s just say that I was this close of shouting internally. I guess I will not be a very proper lady, if I live in that time of age.
But then, K.J. Charles proves why she is still one of my favorite top authors. Around half-way, we finally had a HUGE argument between Harry and Julius, and suddenly it became fast-paced and engaging. Gone was the whole talks and debates about fashion – instead we had some explosive but emotional moments between Harry and Julius, when they finally acknowledge their feelings to one another. We had danger following Harry when the government zeroed in to capture radical movement supporters, including Harry’s friends, and to that extend, Harry’s involvement in distributing seditious pamphlets. It was exciting and I was biting my nails to find out how Harry could get out of the situation.
It took time for Harry to capture my heart. To me, he was a bit naïve. He wanted to be rich, he wanted to be part of the society of gentlemen because he didn’t want to live the way his parents did. Harry thought he could get everything he wanted without taking necessity consequences. Let’s just say that I wasn’t feeling very sympathetic towards him – until his old family friend, Silas, drilled a new hole in his brain (NOT literally!!) *laugh*.
Having said that, Harry definitely shown the most progress in terms of characters, in my humble opinion. Yes, Julius had his own tragic past, and Harry was the first man who could make Julius felt love. But in terms of characters, I thought Julius was pretty consistent from the beginning. Julius had his principles and opinions on matters that didn’t sway easily. I liked Julius of course, but Harry was the one who progressed.
There are other characters here who rounded up the group of friends – and would definitely starring in their own book: Richard Vane – Harry’s cousin twice removed and Dominic Frey – Richard and Julius’s friend who worked at Home Office. We also have Silas Mason – Harry’s family friend, a radical bookseller and pamphleteer, as well as other secondary characters such as Richard’s loyal valet Cyprian and Harry’s other cousin, Miss Verona Vane.
All in all, this book won my heart despite the rough beginning. And let me tell you, I read the blurb for the second book and couldn’t contain my EXCITEMENT. If you know the main characters there like I do by reading them in this book, I am sure you would be as well. Gah, December couldn’t come fast enough!
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Title: A Fashionable Indulgence
Author: K. J. Charles
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 224 pages
Release Date: August 11, 2015