An Unnatural Vice, by K.J. Charles
Series: Sins of the Cities, Book 2
Release Date: June 6, 2017
In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.
Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.
Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.
But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.
Enemies to Lovers
Content Warnings for:
Mention of Past Suicide Attempt
Mention of Past Abuse
He had never in his life been with anyone whose will was as strong as his own. This didn’t feel like a flirtation; it felt like stags circling, antlers ready to clash.
An Unnatural Vice is an enemies-to-lovers story at its best. The animosity in the beginning and the undercurrent of attraction are palpable and believable. Moreover, since we get both point of views of Nathaniel and Justin in this book, we are able to like and understand them both early on, while they are still resenting the hell out of each other.
Their wits and characters clash and it is simply a joy to accompany them through the stages of their relationship. From opposition to careful trust to friendship and love. I respect the author so much for the way she wrote Nathaniel and Justin and how she gave them the perfect story and a perfect solution and ending. The balance between independency, on the one hand, and reliance and support, on the other, is amazingly well done and it is very rewarding to see that Nathaniel and Justin complement each other so well. Their feelings for each other were simply beautiful.
Nathaniel didn’t delude himself. Justin was a damaged man, with a tangled mess of pride, ruthlessness, obstinacy, and resentment grown like brambles around his heart and soul. This would never be easy. But it would never be flat and tedious and deathly either, as life had been for so long. And it would be worth every scratch and gouge for those precious moments when the brambles parted, letting him through.
With these two also comes along sexual tension that is off the charts. Scorching hot. Utterly touching. Mind-blowing.
But their relationship is not all challenge and edges. On the contrary, they learn to work together and they spend a lot of time together in which they talk and get to know each other. There are many tender moments between them as well. But they are never losing their spark. Gosh, I think I could go on and on about it, I loved this so much.
The language, setting, and secondary characters are, as always with K.J. Charles, also really well done. Time and place come alive on the page and I want to give a special shout out to the London fog in this case. It was woven into the story amazingly well.
The relationship between Nathaniel and Justin already left me with no boring minute. Add to this the mystery and suspense surrounding the heritage of the earldom with it’s (hidden) players and dangers and you have a thrilling story that will leave you breathless and loath every break you have to take in between. But I want to stress that it’s not a hectic or pressing read. You still have the time to enjoy the details on the way.
I was, however, not surprised by who the lost heir is. I dunno whether I was just surprisingly brilliant or whether it’s actually quite obvious. I’m curious about what other readers have to say on this. But having an idea about it early on, did not take away from my enjoyment in any way, since it’s less about the mystery of who and more about the finding him and not getting killed in the meantime.
An Unnatural Vice resolves the next story arc in the broader scheme of the series satisfactorily, so there is no cliffhanger, but it also sets up the third and last book, which I am very curious about now. Very. I want to read it now. Please and thank you.
The only tiny niggle I have about this book is that I thought the séance scenes in the beginning of the book were a bit too long. But this spiritualist part of the story – Justin’s shady profession of being the Seer of London – was actually really interesting to read about.
I don’t think you can read this book on its own. If you’re considering reading the series, you have to start in the beginning, which, really, is no hardship because An Unseen Attraction is awesome as well. So do yourself a favour and try out this wonderful historical romance series.
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.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.