An Unseen Attraction, by K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, Book 1
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
Person of Color
Oh how I love a good trilogy! For me they’re the perfect length. You get a lot more than you do in one standalone book but you also don’t have to commit to a super long series that can take several years (sometimes decades, eeesh) to be complete. I will say that I really love it when the entire series is already published so I can tear through all three books back-to-back but when its authors like KJ, what can I say? Exceptions will be made!
Nuanced and multifaceted, KJ writes characters who are flawed and feel very real. Clem with his unfailing kind heart and his love of poetry. The excerpts from Robert Browning’s work was a lovely addition. And Rowley’s artful eye with his passion for preservation. I felt the Victorian taxidermy was well researched and interesting. The author also does an excellent job of introducing new characters. They never feel forced and I always finish each book wanting to know more about the ones I haven’t gotten to know well yet. She also has the uncanny ability of telling us about the places in the world where her characters live that over time become familiar even if I’ve never been there before.
I think Clem and Rowley complement each other well and they make a great detective team too. They really get each other and their slow courtship reflected the patience they have for taking their time with one another. Even when they were fighting…
“I’d rather you didn’t have to shout, but I’d rather you shouted than I never found out I was getting it wrong. Because if we’re both afraid to say anything to each other, we are going to get it wrong. And I don’t want to, I truly don’t.”
That kind of honesty right there is why when tensions run high I still had faith that they would work through it. Their chemistry is off the charts but, that said, the heat factor is pretty tame. There is on page sex but not a lot of it and I really didn’t miss it. Probably because there was intimacy in their emotional connection and, you know, they were kinda busy solving crimes so maybe they’ll have more time to play once things settle down. Mayhaps Rowley will give Clem a hint. 😉
Something I appreciated was the reminder that it was illegal for two men to be together back then. I find it interesting to think of what it must’ve been like for someone lacking the confidence to make the first move or the ability to pick up on social cues. I think Charles always does an outstanding job of depicting what queer people went through and how they kept their privacy. As upsetting as it is to think about how they couldn’t be open about themselves and who they loved, it makes me happy to think that they still found a way to be together. I’m also curious to see how people react to someone when they have no idea about the other person’s sexuality. It just goes to show that the stigma attached to who you share a bed with doesn’t have a lot to do with who you are as a person and how you should be perceived.
“Most people think that nobody should make a fuss until it’s their own comfort at stake, at which point they will bring the roof down shrieking about it.”
So very true.
When it comes to historical romance I’m pretty picky but I will always make time for a KJ Charles book. She writes extraordinary tales that hook me right from the first page, every time. The mystery here was intriguing and helped to pick up the pace of an otherwise slow moving start. When they were trying to figure out who the culprit was, I liked that they were thinking through all the clues with the reader. That’s the stuff of good writing, folks. When an author tells me what’s happening rather than just showing me the result. She’s not giving anything away but drawing me further into the story.
This was a pleasant read even if it did start out quietly. There’s a cliffhanger so the series will continue with a new mystery to solve and it’s making me want to get my hands on more clues already. Looks like I’ll have to wait for the next book in the series, An Unnatural Vice, which comes out in June 2017. Until then, I highly recommend An Unseen Attraction. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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.
You can purchase An Unseen Attraction from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.