A Tag Team Review with Chelsea!
FOUR HEARTS--K.J. Charles' newest Victorian romance series, Sins of the Cities, starts off on the right foot with An Unseen Attraction. A slow burn with an encompassing mystery and romance between two unassuming souls can be found in this novel.
"Rowley, there are lots of people who think I'm worth looking at. Not so many who think I'm worth listening to. Not like you."
A spasm of something passed across Rowley's face. "Then there are a lot of fools out there."
The words were, as usual, a joy to read from this author. And the shared moments between 28-year-old Clement Talleyfer - lodging house keeper and 35 year old, Rowley Green, a solitary preserver (taxidermist) made this book special.
Clement, or Clem, is of Indian descent and grew up an outsider for his entire life. Rowley has not had an easy childhood and bears the scars to prove it. The author has a fine hand on writing inclusive characters be it race or QUILTBAG, no one gets left out. And An Unseen Attraction is on par.
But what makes this book even more special was including a character with DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder or Dyspraxia). She wrote the character in such a way that respected the disorder and an affected person's feelings, rather than using his disorder as a characteristic and not following up. (I'm not a fan of books that write characters with intellectual disabilities and can't back it up with thorough research). Based on the obvious research alone put into this tale, it's rated all the hearts.
Clem runs the lodging house and crushes on his lodger of eight months, the small, quiet Mr. Green, who runs a preserve shop next door. Clem's not one to easily discern if Mr. Green would welcome his affections, so quiet friendship is what he relies on to keep in respectable contact within that time period. You know what they say about the quiet ones? Because quiet Mr. Green notices Clem just as much.
Told in dual POV, the two become closer while surround by interesting characters at the lodging house. Their shared attraction obvious. A mystery is literally dropped on the house doorsteps by way of a dead body. The pair bond even more, trying to figure out what is the cause of the violent acts. Both men have damaging pasts, with internal and external scars. Clem is gorgeous (great cover by the way - it's very close to how I picture Clem). But with DCD, most treat him like an imbecile. Rowley, knows he's not as handsome and he tends to downplay himself. Not to the point of annoyance but thankfully Clem sees him as a worthy partner and vice versa.
I loved both main characters. (Can you tell?) Flawed individuals who make each other stronger together and bring out the best in each other without losing a sense of self. They aren't overt characters, rather it's the quietness and the little things that they both do that grabs the attention.
And their compatibility exists both in and out of the bedroom!
"I like to be...undemanding in bed. To, well, have the other person make the decisions. there's something about someone doing what he wants to do with me..."
I-- *clears throat*
Yes, I'm very fine with that.
Edging and submissiveness...oh yes, these two were definitely hot together.
While the two check off so many boxes on my characters-I-enjoy list, the story isn't without minor flaws.
Why not full throttle and dump all the hearts at this book's feet? There are some open ended issues that I would love to be answered. There's an arc that has enough mystery to probably cover the entire series. (That epilogue is everything)
But...something about the 'villain(s) ending'-- something about it s sticking in my craw. Maybe it could be more of a me thing but I wanted justice. I wanted a big never ending battle royal as a climax to the action scenes scattered about the story.
The cowardice irks me. Who is the accomplice? Mastermind? Ah!
But I do think the author kept the main character's personalities at the forefront at all times, so I'll just have to swallow and build a bridge to get over it.
Or read the rest of this series, which I DEFINITELY will be. Because I am all in for "Polish Mark". This author has me pining for themes I tend to shy away from - mysteries and psychics. *shakes head*
The writing is that good.
I don't plan on running through the ignored lists of books with those themes but it seems that if K.J. Charles has written it, I'll make an exception.
The secondary characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. And the story overall, is well written enough, suspenseful enough and romantic enough to check out!
A copy provided for an honest review via Netgalley.