Double Review: An Unseen Attraction and An Unnatural Vice (Books #1 and #2: Sins of the Cities Series) by K.J. Charles

Unseen

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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.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase     My Rating: 3½/5 stars

Rowley Green has chosen to live his life away from anger and violence.  For the better part of his adult life he has chosen to remain a quiet and solitary business owner who takes pride in his work and relishes his hard-earned solitude.  That all changes, however when Rowley meets Clem Talleyfer and dead bodies and burglaries become the norm rather than the exception to Rowley’s quiet life. 

To be sure, the first eight months of knowing Clem weren’t all about the fear and uncertainties.  Those precious months were about building a friendship, sharing long hours before the fire talking, and quietly developing unspoken feelings for one another.   Unfortunately, many a quiet night has been broken up by the drunken antics of one particular lodger whose presence is as annoying as it is disturbing.  Though Rowley feels the man should be thrown out of the otherwise pleasant lodging house, Clem assures him that is an action that can never, ever take place.  Clem’s brother, the earl of Moreton not only owns the lodging house, but has demanded Clem never evict the drunkard no matter his exploits and antics.  As it happens, someone else takes care of the beast and leaves the dead body on Clem and Rowley’s front steps thus ushering in weeks of danger, fear, and confusion. 

Though Rowley doesn’t consider himself a particularly brave man, he does know the situation he and Clem are facing will require them both to muster all their courage.  Rowley almost instantly sees how Clem’s brother is involved and pushes for Clem to confront the earl to ensure their safety.  Clem’s relationship with his brother has never been good and confronting him would only create more issues.  Though Clem is loathe to bother his brother, he isn’t above calling on the help of a few friends who are uniquely qualified to help Clem and Rowley.  With a little bit of digging and a whole host of disbelief, the group uncovers secrets and lies that are most certainly worth killing for. 

The Bottom Line:   An Unseen Attraction is a very typical first in a series read.  There is a lot of ground that needs to be covered with world building, character introduction/development, and short- and long-term plot lines.  With that being said, there are moments in this read where it really does drag and you just have to plow through those moments to get to the fun ending.  Clem and Rowley are both likeable characters, the plot is just twisted enough to have kept me interested, and naughty bits are fairly tame.  I can’t say there is any one of the aforementioned characteristics I  overwhelmingly loved, but there are a lot of little moments within each that sort of accumulated and got me through this read and to liking it well enough to move on to book two.

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Vice

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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.

Review. Text on the string. Conceptual 3d image

Source: Purchase     My Rating: 4/5 stars

**REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE**

Nathaniel Roy likes nothing better than unearthing a juicy story and exposing scandals. Of late, he’s turned his attention to Justin Lazarus, the so-called Seer of London.  As far as Nathaniel is concerned, Lazarus is the lowest kind of villain, preying on people’s insecurities, fears, and losses.  Exposing Lazarus as a fraud will suit Nathaniel just fine and further his social crusade.  Once that’s done, Nathaniel can move on to the next story, the next social injustice.

Justin Lazarus knows what it’s like to have nothing, to be at other people’s mercy, and he will never be that vulnerable again.  In recent years, Justin has established himself as the Seer of London, a man who can commune with the dead and bring peace to those left behind.  As long as the bereaved can pay, Justin strings them along dropping tidbits of information about their lost loved ones, but once the money has dried up, the mystical connection to the dead is lost.  Yeah, Justin is a fine upstanding citizen, just a real gem of a human being. 

Justin and Nathaniel crossing paths is inevitable and the second they meet, Justin begins working his “magic” and preying upon Nathaniel’s past, his tragic loss.  Nathaniel is a man who is rarely at a loss for words, but Justin’s “knowledge” of his past, his loss, and his general demeanor is inconceivable at it leaves Nathaniel completely shaken.  As Nathaniel retreats to the safety of his established circle of friends, he discovers that he may, in fact need Justin for more than just the subject of his latest investigation.  As it turns out, Justin is connected to the mess brought about by the death of Clem Talleyfer’s brother, the earl of Moreton.  Oh, hell!!

In the wake of the earl’s death, the title has been claimed by the late earl’s disgusting brother, but there is still the question of the legitimate children left behind by the late earl.  If one of those children is a boy, he is the legitimate and legal heir and Nathaniel has been tasked by his friends to dig up whatever documentary evidence may exist to prove or disprove the case.  Just as he is pondering the situation, Nathaniel finds a disturbed and somewhat scared Justin Lazarus at his door with information that can blow the missing twins case wide open.  Because of his “fame,” Justin needs to flee the city and Nathaniel has just the place.  Only their friends know where to find them and until the matter of the missing heir is solved, Justin and Nathaniel intend to stay out of sight.  Unfortunately, being sequestered and relatively alone brings up a whole host of new naughty issues that both are incredibly uncomfortable with. 

The Bottom Line:  An Unnatural Vice picks up exactly where An Unseen Attraction leaves off.  Nathaniel is right in the thick of things and those things get thicker and thicker when Justin Lazarus enters the mix.  Justin turns Nathaniel’s world upside down and brings him out of the miasma of sadness and loneliness he didn’t even realize he was engulfed in.  As the two become closer and more comfortable with the other, their respective secrets are revealed, and their walls come crashing down.  As the plot unfolds, the situation gets more and more dangerous which increases the suspense and the plot pace.  The naughty bits are delicious in this read and overall, this read is even better than the first.  Additionally, the heir issue is still somewhat unresolved though progress is made in this book.  There is still a great deal of sinning left to do in the city 😊

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