Review: An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles


Title: An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities #2)
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 6 June 2017

Author's links: Website / Twitter / FB Group / Goodreads
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars


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. 


This is the second book in the Sins of the Cities series and it continues the mystery/suspense plot from the first book as the background of a rather unexpected romance.

Justine Lazarus, the Seer of London, a fake psychic making money by deceiving  gullible rich people who turn to him is very much at the heart of this story. And he is such a special character, he is so unapologetically bad you can't help cheer for his HEA. Justine is a shameless crook, who has no regrets and second thoughts about what he does for a living. Yet, we gradually see another side of him - he is smart and observant and crafty and resourceful and ultimately, someone with a moral code of his own, someone who cares about his people, wants to do better, live a better life.

He is not an easily likable character, especially at the beginning, but I had no trouble understanding him, relating to him, accepting as legitimate the reasons that made him act the way he did. Deep down he is a good person, caring in his own way, and what makes him even more special is that despite the difficulties he had been through , him acting like a cold-hearted cynic is  all more or less a mask, a role he plays to perfection in order to survive. And still, he has dreams, and hopes, is able to love and show compassion and care.

Nathaniel was a bit harder for me to pin down as a character - strong and stoic, recovering from the loss of his lover. He was a sort of a justice warrior, guided by strong moral principles. While I'm sympathetic to his struggles to come to terms with his attraction to someone like Lazarus, he acted too superior and judgmental for my liking. His privilege was showing in his insistence for Justin to change his ways. Even though in the end he accepted him the way he was, I didn't like his attitude for most of the story.

They are an unlikely pair, which started with an irresistible sexual chemistry in a enemies-to-lovers scenario. I felt the attraction was a bit instantaneous and while I see it as fitting Lazarus, it felt forced with Nathaniel. He's been mourning his partner for a long time and suddenly his attraction awakes, just like that, out of nowhere and it draws him to the unlikeliest of love interest

The mystery/suspense part of the story was full of plot twitst and turns that kept me on my toes the whole time while reading. It was exciting and unexpected and intense and moving without ever going into melodrama and really enjoyed it.

The writing is we have come to expect by KJ Charles flawless, engaging, full of nuanced detail, creating a rich sense of place and time.

As the solving of the overarching mystery of the series progresses, not it's time for Mark to get his story told and I can't wait to read it later this year. 

Purchase links: Publisher / Amazon / Kobo

You Might Also Like


Flickr Images