Review: An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles


Titlle: An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities #1)
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical, MM romance
Release Date: 21 Feb 2017

Author's links: Website / Twitter / FB Group / Goodreads
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My rating: 4 Stars


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. 


This is the start of new Victorian queer romance series by one of my favourite authors of historical romance, and I was super excited to read it. And then I was really happy and thoroughly delighted when i read it.

This a romance coupled with some mystery in the tradition of Victorian sensational novels but with gay characters and told from the POV of the less fortunate half of society - the sort of middle class professional Rowley who is a taxidermist and Clem who is half-Indian and the bastard son of an Earl.

The writing is perfect as one has come to expect from KJ Charles, it the story flows smoothly despite a somewhat slow start. The pace of the mystery/thriller aspect picks up after the middle and I became totally engrossed in this element of the plot. 

And the romance, oh the romace is just beautiful. We see two real men with their strengths and weaknesses coming slowly together. Clem is neurodiverse, he suffers from dyspraxia and I didn't know anything about it before I read the book, yet the way KJ Charles portrayed his daily struggles made me feel deeply for him. And I found even more powerful is the way Rowley reacted to Clem's condition - with understanding, making some wrong assumptions along the way but always ready to listen and learn. 

The progress of Clem and Rowley's relationship was a pure delight to follow, friends to lover, to true partners, discovering each other's quirks, learning to be together. 

I like the strong sense of time and place the author created which I'd say is also typical of KJ Charles' stories. Meticulously research details of the places and the times as a whole really brought the story to life for me. 

I enjoyed meeting Clem's friends and as a supporting cast they were really intriguing, with Polish Mark being my personal favourite. (And of course, as my luck would have it, we get to read his story last).

Judging from other reviews it seems Clem is the readers' favourite in this story. And he absolutely deserves it - his kindness, his care for his fellow human beings were amazing and heart-warming. I found Rowley equally intriguing and he managed to tug at my heartstrings the same as Clem. His vulnerability, his fear for his life, were just normal human emotions, not something to be ashamed of or mocked for by the others. I really like the dynamics of power between Clem and Rowley and how it developed gradually and fitted them so well. 

This book was a great start to an intriguing new series, less overtly political than Society of Gentlemen but still very much politically and socially aware. The story highlights the diversity of the Victorian society in a natural and cohesive way (I enjoyed reading the bits on the Indian society Clem visits and the way his complex relationship with his origin was presented).

Purchase links: Publisher / / Kobo

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