An Unseen Attraction, by K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, Book 1
Release Date: February 21, 2017
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 (Half-Indian)
Content Warnings for:
Mention of Suicide
Mention of Torture
From the very beginning, I fell in love with Clem and Rowley. They are fascinating characters both on their own and their blooming romance had me smiling so much. I couldn’t stop, because it made me so happy to see how they cared for each other and how they were so tender and, most of all, considerate with each other.
Which brings me to one of the aspects of this novel that I absolutely loved. I think the depiction of disabilities was very respectful and considerate as well.
It is very well done how Clem’s condition is part of him and influences his whole life in a lot of small and also bigger details, but at the same time it is obvious that he manages just fine and is not incapacitated by it. I appreciate very much that Clem’s dyspraxia is compared to Rowley being short-sighted, which may sound a bit funny at first, but actually isn’t. One important distinction between both conditions however is that there was something that could be done for being short-sided, whereas people with dyspraxia were not that fortunate. Moreover, in the past the need for glasses wasn’t really common, but dyspraxia wasn’t even a concept known at all. People were just considered dumb which they absolutely are not.
Regarding Clem’s dyspraxia, I love how Rowley just sees Clem as a whole. He is considerate but also doesn’t make a big deal out of it.
As I mentioned above, the romance is really sweet – those kissing sessions, people, you don’t want to miss them! Moreover, the development and pacing of the romance befitted the characters and seemed natural, and I liked that the few and relatable arguments were solved soon and in a fashion that I found believable and drama-free. Even though there is this one disagreement where I couldn’t really relate to Clem but I think his behaviour was well in character and made sense for him. If anything, Rowley’s reaction seemed a little bit off and I didn’t really get it, but *shrugs*, it was but a small thing.
Both Clem and Rowley grow and learn a lot during the course of the book. While they support each other in it, and, yeah, also are the reason for some of it, I like that both basically do it on their own and have their own agency.
As I have basically come to expect from the author, the whole setting in London – in the wet and foggy fall – is three-dimensional and comes alive on the page. Places and time seem real and many smaller secondary characters help with giving this novel a complex feel without being distracting.
The mystery and suspense part of the book was entertaining and I liked it. I’m not so much of a mystery fan, but I was captivated and I think everything felt plausible. While the story leaves us at a satisfactory and resolved place, it is clear that we will find more of it in the future and I am looking forward to it.
Compared to Charles’s Society of Gentlemen series, I would describe An Unseen Attraction as less consuming, but quiet and domestic, which I really enjoyed. Concerning the pacing and plot development, I have this picture in my mind that it could be described as a slowly turning wheel, always going forward but also in circles and predictable, and that is not a bad thing but, well, also not mind-blowing, in a way— which is fine, totally, but still. Heh. I don’t knowwww. It’s just something that I noticed, ‘kay? 😀
An Unseen Attraction is a sweet and happy making romance in a palpable historical setting with great portrayal of neurodiversity and a captivating plot. I highly recommended it and I’m already excited for the next book that will be out this June.
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.