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

 

11613309

 

 

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: The Harder He Falls (Lynda Aicher)

Well, this is a case of too much sex (scenes) not enough story combined with wrong expectation based on the blurb. Duly noted I only read the blurb once before requesting the ARC, then I forgot about it when I started to read since I wanted to be in a ‘clean slate’ when I was reading. However, I definitely didn’t expect the D/s tone.

See, I am not really keen with D/s in general. On cases where D/s stories work for me, it usually because I am mentally prepared somewhat or at least the D/s feels natural for the characters. In my humble opinion, leather bar does not necessarily mean BDSM scene, so it definitely threw me off.

Another issue I had was with Grady, as one of the MCs. I just felt that his personality was all over the place, went hot and cold, and his incessant internal drama and denial were not appealing (I am not a submissive!). So Grady didn’t share everything — because clearly, men don’t communicate — and then he got pissed off because Micah made the (wrong) move or assumption?

Yeah. Sexy. Not.

Grady remedied that situation around half-way by telling Micah about his bad experience with a Dom — thought it didn’t really stop him from going hot and cold the rest of the way. It definitely made a dent in my enjoying him as the main character. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Micah and his health condition, I might not be able to finish. Although, in full disclosure, I also skimmed the story when they went back to all sex scenes.

Micah was the one that kept me going. I liked characters that weren’t flawless. Micah’s health condition was intriguing for me. I was engaged to read how he performed in day-to-day activities and how he reacted with the possibility of having a lover in his life. Even if I couldn’t understand what Micah saw in Grady … but maybe that makes him a better person that I am (*haha*).

Grady’s conflict and denial gave way to a lot of arguments with Micah and the tendency of him running away when things got intense. Then the closure was slightly rushed and hey, everything was hunky-dory, except for me as a reader.

Conclusion: MEH at best for me. Not exactly my cuppa tea. But for those of you who like their books with a lot of sexy times, D/s kink (or at least giving up control in the bedroom), you might enjoy this more that I do. I am bailing out of the series too — marine Doms are not my poison *shrugs*.

 

RATING: 2.5 out of 5
25stars

 

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:
27876320Title: The Harder He Falls
Author: Lynda Aicher
Series: Kick, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: June 7, 2016

ARC Review: Blown Away (Brenda Rothert)

3.5 stars

I was intrigued with this book mainly because the blurb said “storm-chasing”. I am a HUGE fan of the movie Twister (1996) and I thought storm-chaser characters were not exactly abundant in romance.

For the most part, I enjoyed this. It was fast-paced, the writing was quite good, and I liked the whole actions regarding storm-chasing. It was good for the adrenaline. Although it wasn’t all action, there was one heartbreaking moment that had to due with an aftermath of a tornado that hit a town, and that felt as real as I could imagine.

I also liked the characters enough. I liked Drew for wanting to try something new, to feel alive after losing her fiancé. She was quite a brave girl this one. I liked Aiden for his true feeling for Drew, even if he pushed her a lot due to the fact that Drew was his deceased best-friend’s fiancée. I thought they connected enough and I could believe their relationship. The epilogue in particular, was sweet and making my heart soared.

I wasn’t huge fan of the sexual charge of the book though or the fact that Drew had a different thought about Aiden first because **SPOILER ** Drew saw Aiden doing sex with another girl and she sort of wanted to be that girl ** SPOILER **. Oh, I know, I know, romance should at least have sexual attraction between the main characters — it couldn’t be avoided. But to me, I liked Drew and Aiden better when they talked about their past, their hopes and dreams, rather than when they were lusting over one another. I couldn’t see lust and sex as intimacy — well, physical intimacy maybe. But I prefer ’emotional’ intimacy better, that happened outside of sex scenes.

Conclusion, I enjoyed it but I didn’t loved it.

 

RATING: 3.5 out of 5
35

 

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:

27876302Title: Blown Away
Author: Brenda Rothert
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 205 pages
Publisher: Loveswept
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016

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: Irresistibly Yours (Lauren Layne)

*3.75 stars rounded up*

This is only the third Lauren Layne’s book that I have read. I read the first Sex and Stiletto book but I didn’t continue it. The thing is, what they do, what they write, is TOTALLY not my kind of reading. I found female magazine boring. I don’t care about the relationship and sex tips (I’m asexual!) or fashion tips (I like my shirt and shorts and sandals, thank you very much) or make-up tips (don’t like ’em). Yep, I found them boring.

However, when I read the blurb for this one, I thought it had potential. First, it is about SPORTS magazine (well, a men’s magazine but with sport editors). Second, it has “fresh-faced tomboy who can hang with the dudes”. Let’s face it, THAT kind of woman I think I could connect to. I may not be a tomboy who hang with dudes, but I feel like she will be more relatable to me than the Stiletto girls.

Well, I was right … this book was cute!!

I liked Penelope — she is (using Cole’s own words) unabashedly honest and I found it, dare I say it, quite refreshing. I loved that she prefers junk food (hotdog, popcorns, pretzels) over posh dining. I loved that she preferred her casual look over dresses up nine-to-five. Heck, when Penelope is talking about lipstick and the fact that she never think of figuring out whether it expires, or that most of the time she doesn’t think of put lipstick on, I feel like she’s talking about ME!!! So I enjoyed that part.

I also liked Cole … when he’s not being a jerk (I get to that part later). I loved his loyalty to his brother, his sense of responsibility, and most of all I loved reading about his camaraderie with the other men. Their ‘bro-chemistry’ is off the charts *lol*.

As a story, there is this easiness that made me gobbled up the sentences fast and furiously. The first half definitely was DELIGHTFUL — until these two playing tags in making the other one jealous while sending those mixed signals. For two people who can talk about daily things, it was frustrating that Penelope and Cole couldn’t communicate what they meant to say.

I also had problem with Penelope’s insecurity of her self-potential of being someone’s girlfriend and Cole’s tendency to quickly make assumptions along with his reluctance to share important things (namely his own big brother). Mostly the last one, I think. I mean, seriously Cole, you said it yourself that Penelope was different plus you thought that you had feelings for her. But you kept her out when something personal happened to you? What gives, man? Plus that last move you did, well, you were a jerk to her. You were an ass to ALL your friends actually *hmph*. I kinda needed more grovel from him.

So yes, I had my complaints. But if I see this as an overall reading experience, I must say I was pretty satisfied. Thus the rounded-up to 4* rating. I am intrigued with Lincoln’s story. Unfortunately, his is not until book #3 and I’m NOT at all interested with blurb for the second book. Let’s just see, shall we?

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:

23395414Title: Irresistibly Yours (Oxford, #1)

Author: Lauren Layne
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Word Count: N/A
Publisher: Loveswept (Random House)
Release Date: October 6, 2015