|I read this story in my kindle|
My Rating: 4 stars
In November we have to choose something everybody is talking about.
It was in my TBR pile because, since I discovered KJ Charles with Think of England, I’m trying to read everything she’s written. I’ve already finished her Charm of Magpies series and wanted to follow with this Regency-set story.
This is the first novel of a new series. So there are many secondary characters that you know are sequel bait. But don’t worry, there’s no cliff-hanger that makes you think you have to buy the following one.
These gentlemen belong to a group, the Ricardians, young men of good families protected by Richard, who has recently discovered he’s got a cousin, Harry Vane. Harry’s the product of a misalliance between a man of a good family and a politically radical woman. They had to flee England when Harry was twelve, and then he came back alone to live with Silas, a friend of his parents, another radical who writes and prints subversive pamphlets.
Harry could be the heir to a fortune. He leaves that radical environment in which he has been raised. In order to be accepted by the ton, Harry has to learn how to behave, how to dress, and not only that, but he’s also to be married to a suitable girl.
Julius Norreys, a Waterloo veteran who is a real dandy, the perfect gentleman wonderfully dressed in amazing waistcoats, takes Harry under his wing and tries to teach him everything he needs to know.
Harry is attracted to Julius as soon as he sees him. He has had experiences with men before, so this is a matter in which Harry can teach Julius. Julius suffered a terrible loss four years ago and his heart is kind of frozen. He rejects real intimacy and is used to only casual relationships. His only aim in the world seems to be how to find the more flamboyant waistcoats in London Regency.
They discover their mutual attraction, and soon became lovers. It is understood that as soon as Harry engages with a woman, their liaison would end.
Harry didn’t like poverty, so it looks like he doesn’t care if he has to become a society dandy and marry and keep quiet about his radical past in order to be a rich man.
Julius, on the other hand, falls for Harry and allows himself to feel alive again. Harry teaches him how to be happy. He knows what’s best for Harry, but will he have the strength to ignore his own feelings?
All this happens in the midst of one of the darkest episodes in the social history of England –the Peterloo Massacre, in which the cavalry charged into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators that had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation so that the city of Manchester could have a seat in Parliament. And that’s when Harry realizes that he’s got a political conscience, after all.
I can’t sit in drawing rooms listening to rich men talk about the bravery of cavalry trampling unarmed women underfoot in order to keep Manchester from having a member of Parliament.
A little bit more about these problems of suffrage in the Regency times can be read in Rose Lerner’s Sweet Disorder.
That’s what I loved most about this book -the historical setting. It gives you a more realistic idea of what the Regency times were than your average romance.
People are starving in the streets. No work, no bread, no voice. And we’re told that’s the way of things, that there’s no need for reform because the country is best served by the old order.
As KJ Charles puts in her webpage: ‘Society of Gentlemen is set at a time of incredible privilege for the few and social turmoil for the many. Regency England is torn by war, poverty and social unrest, ruled by a draconian government. People are starving, rioting, rebelling. But the aristocrats dance on, in their glittering existence of balls, gambling, silks and scandal…’ Just the kind of historical that I love, one in which romance does not prevent the author from describing those times in realistic terms.
Apart from that interesting setting, it’s got that wonderful KJ Charles style that kept my eyes glued to the page. I couldn’t stop reading until I finished it. The sex scenes were explicit, which makes this book only suitable for adults. And they add to the story, mainly in the development of Julius’ character.
Why does it not deserve my five stars? I’m not very sure. I think it was because of the main characters. I didn’t love them, I didn’t feel emotionally involved in their predicaments, I’m not sure I would be interested in meeting them at all. Perhaps too many mentions of waistcoats and embroidery?
Anyway, thank you very much, Ms Charles, for writing these books. I still haven’t found one book of yours that I didn’t like.
Why was this book chosen for this month? It’s been a difficult month. Everybody usually talks about recent books, and I don’t have many novelties in my TBR pile. I asked myself which books were talked about this year, either in the English blogosphere or the Spanish one, but none of them was in my kindle. So I told myself ‘let’s talk about something new’ that perhaps people will talk about soon. This book was published in August, I think, and got a DIK A review in All About Romance. Moreover, it was one of the 31 ‘awesome’ queer romances Alexis Hall thinks we should read. Sooner or later, everybody will be talking about KJ Charles and her wonderful books. I think.