ARC Review: An Unnatural Vice (K.J. Charles)

An Unnatural Vice is the second book in K.J. Charles’ Sins of the Cities series; featuring Justin Lazarus, the Seer of London who is famous with his séances, and Nathaniel Roy, son of archbishop (he has left church though) who becomes a journalist. If I am not mistaken, the timeline starts almost at the time around the ending of An Unseen Attraction. Nathaniel himself is a friend of Clem, one of the main characters in book #1.

Nathaniel is dead-set in exposing Justin’s tricks and lies. He thinks that Justin is an amoral man, who makes fortune upon people’s griefs. However he can’t dismiss the attraction he feels for Justin, first time he feels that way for another man since the death of his partner five years previously.

I thought this book was slightly a bit lagging in the beginning with Charles setting up the background, confrontation, and burning attraction between Nathaniel and Justin. While Charles always EXCELS in writing enemies-to-lovers / people with different background — I found myself at times a bit bored with Nathaniel’s inner conflict of being attracted to Justin.

I did loved Justin though — what can I say, Charles’ morally ambiguous characters are always attractive for me *laugh*. Justin doesn’t regret his occupation. People who can afford his séances are not from poor class anyway.

The book picks up its pace when murder and mayhem happens, Justin finds himself in the path of a killer who takes no for an answer, and he seeks refugees at Nathaniel’s. This was when I started to feel fully engaged with the two as a couple.

I loved those times with the two of them conversed about their lives and expectations. My heart sometimes went over for Justin when his confidence was dwindling — when he questioned Nathaniel’s motive for helping him. Because Justin really did take advantages of people and he wondered why Nathaniel was able to look past that.

Aside from the romance, An Unnatural Vice also shapes up the mystery around the missing heir that will be fully concluded in book #3. I, for one, look forward to that one.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5

 

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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.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: An Unnatural Vice
Author: K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, #2
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 250 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Purchase at: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble US, iTunes, Kobo
Release Date: June 6, 2017

ARC Review: An Unseen Attraction (K.J. Charles)

First book of a new Victorian series from K.J. Charles … that introduction made me really, truly excited. It’s a fact that I find Charles’ books to be solid read and most of the times, I find them truly enjoyable.

An Unseen Attraction is both a romance and a mystery, set in London at early 1870’s. Personally, I thought Charles was able to balance it both pretty well. The book introduces us to lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer and preserver (or taxidermist, in modern term) Rowley Green – one of Clem’s lodgers.

I honestly thought Clem as a very interesting character. See, Clem first came to me as a little slow. He gets easily nervous with too many stimuli (which is why he avoids crowd). He is gentle, kind, and avoids confrontations with others. When Clem goes up against a ‘louder’ men, he easily stutters.

However, Clem seems to flourish when he is around his friends at the Jack and Knave (a club for men who likes other men). And when it comes to the bedroom … Clem is the more dominant compared to Rowley. Even if during their first kiss, Clem is the one who forget to breathe! But as their relationship goes further, Rowley is the one more submissive — and interestingly Rowley also seems to be the one with less experience.

So you see, Clem’s contradictory intrigued the hell out of me! I thought Clem has more layers compared to Rowley; whose job is probably is the most interesting part about him. Clem is more than meets the eyes …

As for the mystery part, it circles around the murder of another lodger with connection to Clem’s family members. The ending of this one is a bit of a cliffhanger; we find answers but it the mystery develops into something bigger, which is why I think it will be the arc of the whole trilogy (the title of the third book, most especially, is the biggest hint).

UNFORTUNATELY, Clem’s way of handling issues that comes to him, especially in regards to the murder and his bully of a brother frustrated the HELL out of me. This influenced my enjoyment of reading the book because most of the time I wanted to STRANGLE Clem for being too naive and trusting. He refuses to think that there might be something amiss happening. In this particular case, Clem is like a child who puts hands on his ears and refuses to listen while people tells him about his mistakes.

I also admit that I was getting uncomfortable reading about the details of Rowley’s job. The part where Charles wrote about the stuffing process, it creeped me out so much I had to put the book down and switched to another title for a while. I think if I watch the process with my own eyes, I will get nightmares for weeks!

So I have to settle with 3-stars this time. Nonetheless, rest assured, I WILL be there for the rest of the series!!

RATING: 3 out of 5
3-stars

 

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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.

 

BOOK INFO:

unseenTitle: An Unseen Attraction
Author: K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, #1
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 247 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Purchase at: Amazon US, Barnes & Noble US
Release Date: February 21, 2017

ARC Review: Wanted, A Gentleman (K.J. Charles)

First of all, I have to say BRAVO to Riptide Publishing, K.J. Charles, and anyone involved in making the blurb for Wanted, A Gentleman . Seriously, it is definitely one of the most creative blurbs I have ever seen!! I love the sub title, Or, Virtue Over-Rated; which kinds of giving a clue about what the story is all about, really.

The gist of the story is this: Martin St. Vincent ropes the help of Matrimonial Advertiser’s scribbler Theodore Swann in order to locate the daughter of Martin’s former master who is going to elope with a questionable gentleman. Then we have a rush of carriage pursuing the couple — and of course Martin and Theo getting attracted towards one another in between.

Since it was a novella length, I thought things happened pretty fast between both men. The relationship wasn’t as ‘deep‘ as I preferred it to be. There is a huge twist around 2/3rd of the book that I didn’t see coming. While in retrospect, after I finished reading, it sort of fit with the characters, I couldn’t help thinking that the twist made the story felt … well, less romantic for me.

Personally, I thought that the relationship felt like more like a business trade after that. I couldn’t help that maybe they getting together was pretty much helped by the pleasure of the flesh rather than attraction of minds and virtues.

But then again, maybe like the blurb says, virtue is over-rated

Charles’ writing is as delicious as ever; unfortunately Wanted, A Gentleman is not one of my top favorites from her. Even if it was still a quick entertaining read.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
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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.

 

BOOK INFO:


Title:
Wanted, A Gentleman
Author: K.J. Charles
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 157 pages
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: January 9th, 2017

ARC Review: A Gentleman’s Position (K.J. Charles)

A Gentleman’s Position is the last book of K.J. Charles’ outstanding Society of Gentlemen trilogy; this time bringing the happy ending to Lord Richard Vane who is in a sense the patron of the Ricardians and his loyal valet, redhaired David Cyprian. For the past 4.5 years, David has been harboring sexual attraction towards Lord Richard, without completely knowing that the feelings are mutual. The intimate setting of a valet and his master just adds the delicious tension between the two men.

While in the first two books the historical context of Cato Street Conspiracy plays a significant role in pushing the other couple together, A Gentleman’s Position has rather different situation. The book primarily sets after the event that puts Silas Mason into Richard’s household; thus there aren’t really any urgent matters that Richard or David as his right arm have to deal with, at least until halfway of the story. Because of that, readers are initially treated with the passionate push and pull between Richard and David — especially after our foxy is bravely admit his feelings first. In which that nitwit Richard rejected due to his firm stance over relationship across social classes, between the privileged and less privileged.

I swear, I spent a number of times fuming over Richard and the giant stick up his ass!! This is probably why I will never be a good candidate for the upper classes. I am not good in following those unwritten rules about being a good gentleman (or in my case, lady). Of course, Richard’s situation is added to the fact of forbidden punishable relationship of that era regarding sodomites, but still, his views and values regarding the working class are too rigid and too narrow-minded. I was very proud of David, though, for reminding Richard that not being a gentleman doesn’t mean that he isn’t worthy. You GO, David!

As always, Charles’ writing is excellent. The second half of the book felt like a suspense thriller, with our gentlemen with David’s help trying to find a way to save few of their members from threats of blackmail and accusation of sedition. It was highly engaging and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It’s a wonderful and satisfying ending to the trilogy. Although I won’t mind if Charles offers updates about these characters in the future; short Christmas codas maybe? *laugh*

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

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.

 

BOOK INFO:

25893424Title: A Gentleman’s Position
Author: K. J. Charles
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 246 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: April 5, 2016

ARC Review: A Seditious Affair (K.J. Charles)

For the past year, gentleman official Dominic Frey meets his brute every Wednesday and embraces his submissive nature — of wanting to be dominated and controlled with pain and rough sex. For the past year, Radical idealist Silas Mison meets his Tory every Wednesday and gives in what they both what in a darker kink side of sex. They don’t share each other names. Until Dominic’s job to capture the pamphleteer who wrote sedition under the pseudonym of Jack Cade brings Dominic into Silas’s bookstore…

K.J. Charles opens this book with a bang! That first chapter alone, my GOSH *fans self* Personally, I thought this book was better than the A Fashionable Indulgence, the first book in this series, in both characters and story-line. See, I’m a very character-driven kind of reader. Once I feel emotional connection with characters and their inner struggle (of romance, of family, of life, of dreams, of everything) I will be easily pulled in by their story.

For me, Dominic and Silas have that compelling struggle — their job and principles basically make them enemies of sort. Dominic is a Home Office official. He believes in rules, order, and laws, because without that, it will be riot and chaos. Dominic doesn’t believe that people can govern themselves. People needs government. Meanwhile for forty-year-old Silas (I love older men in my romance, don’t you?), he wants to see people to have a choice, to have a voice. He will fight for that, writing his pamphletes, sharing his thoughts to the people of his class. On the other hand, they also have their Wednesdays, where they connect intimately (despite the strong D/s nature) and not just intellectually, where they start to care for one another in the matter of the heart. I found both their politics and sex to be stimulating and captivating at the same time.

Then, we also have the backdrop of the Cato Street Conspiracy as part of the story, which for me was more exhilarating than Julius trying to teach Harry about the importance of garments and the color puce in book #1 (yes, the PUCE made strong impression *laugh*). Although I’m not very much aware about the event (thank you Wikipedia for all your help!) but I found the progress to that final climax of the Spencean Philanthropists’ attempt to murder all the British cabinet ministers and Prime Minister to add the thrill of the story. Even if sometimes, the real history/politic part still feels a little too distant for an Indonesian like me (and my eyes started to glaze over) but I was literally biting my nails near the end because I fear for Silas’ fate, him being friends and part of this group. I know that this is romance, and it will end happily, but I still couldn’t stop worrying. It is a proof of the mighty talent of Ms. K.J. Charles, to make me feel so involved and cared with the life of this fictional characters.

Simply put, I found A Seditious Affair to be a mesmerizing and satisfying romantic fiction entwined with real historical events. Despite the differences of their social class economy or the dominant/submissive nature of their sex life, Dominic and Silas are both strong characters, equals in every other thing that matters. It is one of my best reading experience of the year for sure. Now, I cannot wait until April next year for the conclusion of the trilogy, in which it will be with delight to see how Cyprian finally takes that stick out of Richard’s (lovely) arse *laugh*

RATING: 4.5 out of 5
4.5

 

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.

 

BOOK INFO:
25241403Title: A Seditious Affair
Author: K.J. Charles
Series: Society of Gentlemen #2
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 251 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: December 15, 2015

ARC Review: A Fashionable Indulgence (K.J. Charles)

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!

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

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.

 

BOOK INFO:

9781101886021Title: A Fashionable Indulgence

Author: K. J. Charles
Genre: MM Historical Romance
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: August 11, 2015