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.
Loveswept, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Carrie Divine, Seductive Designs
Sins of the Cities, book 1
Historical – Victorian
247 e-book pages
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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I’ve learned to expect GREAT THINGS from K.J. Charles. She is an absolute master of the craft and seems pretty fearless in tackling the intricacies of humanity.
And where else am I going to figure out that Victorian-era taxidermy is fascinating? Or about rubbish collecting in the days of yore and yesteryear like in Rag and Bone. Or that there’s so much mystical lore about magpies like in the A Charm of Magpie series.
For a murder mystery with a few scary bits, this was SWEET and FUN.
Y’all. I don’t know if Clem and Rowley could’ve been any sweeter. They’re so NICE. And POLITE. And KIND. And TRUSTING. I just wanted to wrap ‘em up in cotton and shield them from all the baddies.
Clem’s the bastard son of an Earl, and his mother had been run out of England and back to India when Clem was very young. He’s acknowledged as the Earl’s son, which is something I suppose, but it hasn’t made life easy around those who should be his peers. I also suspect he’s somewhere on the autism and/or dyspraxia spectrum, where thoughts collide, chaos is unbearable, and buttons are a nuisance. His older brother has installed him as the keeper of a men’s boarding house where he seems to thrive in the routine of things.
Rowley is a boarding house tenant who has a taxidermy shop next door. He’s reserved, quiet, a bit shy, very precise about things, and seems tentative in his interactions until he gets to know someone.
These two together start off like a whiff of smoke that soon gets fanned to blazing flame. For two characters who are so incredibly sweet and polite, they could’ve easily lost their autonomy on their fall into love. But they’ve both got an inner strength and just enough stubbornness that served to make them stronger, richer together.
And it seems Mr. Rowley has a little thing for edging and submission betwixt the sheets. Well, well, well, wasn’t that all kinds of hot.
There’s a bit of a mystery and some danger, a dead body or so — not counting the taxidermy — and it’s surprisingly amusing as Clem and Rowley try to make sense of it all in a bit of a blundering, naive way. I love how Charles carefully layers in the details and keeps me guessing through the eyes of the characters.
But it’s not all said and done and tied up with a nifty bow. Seems there’s gonna be some dastardly, evil business arcing its way across this series. I’m…okay with that, I think. I mean sure I want baddies dealt with swiftly as much as the next person. But I know enough about this author to know she’s got some tricks up her sleeve that’ll keep me clamoring for more.
This was a delightful start to a new series. If you haven’t tried K.J. Charles, this is wholeheartedly recommended as a good place to start. Though, you can’t go wrong with any of her other books either. For those already in the know, you won’t be disappointed.
About the Author:
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.