Author ~ K.J. Charles
Publisher ~ Loveswept
Published ~ 21st February 2017
Genre ~ Historical M/M Romance
A slow-burning romance and a chilling mystery bind two singular men in the suspenseful first book of a new Victorian series from K. J. Charles.
Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship...
Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding... it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.
Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.
I’ll be right upfront here, the thing that has bothered me most about writing this review is that I used up all my superlatives when reviewing the Society of Gentlemen series. Now I’m faced with that best of all things – Book One in a new series from K.J. Charles I guess I’m going to have to make up some new ones.
And really I could leave it there. When you see Ms. Charles name on a book you know you’re going to get something a bit special, a bit different, and very very good. But what the heck, I’m going to gush a bit.
About the only romance novels I read, until I discovered M/M, were Regencies where the focus was on the small tight knit group of upper class folks who made up the Ton. People for whom the cut of ones coat and the latest scandal were major preoccupations and the worst that could befall a hopeful young female was failure to procure vouchers for Almacks. It’s very easy to forget that there was a whole elaborate social structure buoying these people up, including people for whom the worst that could happen was starving in a gutter. But Ms. Charles is eager to share the trials and tribulations of people not counted amongst the Upper Ten Thousand. And her heroes here, Clem and Rowley, most definitely don’t. It’s great to see the problems of more ordinary people addressed, because I can identify much more closely with, say, the tragedy of a mouse in the pantry spoiling irreplaceable food than the annoyance of not being able to get the folds in ones neckcloth quite right.
Then there’s the characters – Clem so earnestly proud of having been entrusted with a small business by a relative, and Rowley plying his trade as a ‘preserver’, the early name for taxidermist. Two gentle souls, thrown together by proximity, enjoying each other’s company and slowly edging towards a greater intimacy - I can’t work out which of them I love most.
There’s also a mystery to solve, truths to be shared, a stonking cast of secondary characters, some of whom will have stories of their own and the usual “meticulously constructed but described with economy” historical world. Clem’s duties as a lodging house keeper and especially Rowley’s business as a ‘preserver’ are lovingly depicted and both fed my competence kink to repletion. Please, authors, if you decide to give your character an interesting job at least let us see them doing it!
And that cover! Apart from the fact that it’s very well put together with lots implied in it – that clenched fist! Wow! - I mean, honestly, how many non-white cover models do you see? This cover is outstanding for all the right reasons.
So highly enjoyable, thought provoking, attractively produced and a thoroughly satisfying read.
Meet K.J. Charles
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.
KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.