The topic of this month is Historical
My Rating: 4 stars
Part of a series: Green Men #1
In September we have to look for a historical romance. We usually relate ‘historical romance’ with the Regency or the Middle Ages, Vikings or Westerns but the Roaring Twenties? Well, yes, they are history too. What’s a historical novel? For me, it’s a book set in a time when I was not born yet. So ‘historical’ is something that –IMO- depends on the point of view of the reader. For many people, the 80s or the USSR are history, but for me, as they are part of my life, they are contemporary.
So I’m sure that a novel set in the 1920s is a historical one, even if it’s tinted with paranormal elements as this one is.
This is the first book of a series about Green Men, mythical creatures in the English folklore.
Saul Lazenby is an archaeologist that fought in the Middle-Eastern theatre of World War I, something went wrong and he was in jail. His family rejects him, and part of the suspense of the story is discovering what happened in the past for him to be so despised. The war is over, and he had difficulties finding a job, so he is very grateful towards Major Peabody, a silly old man that believes in anything supernatural.
Saul helps him in his nonsensical researches, as he does not believe in any of that. But he will be surprised to find himself in the middle of inexplicable events, like a tree spontaneously burning – and in those moments, once and again, a very attractive and ironic man appears, the mysterious Randolph Glyde, very upper class, with the stiffest upper lip you can imagine.
This is how Saul sees Randolph - A thoroughbred aristocrat, effortlessly superior, endlessly disdainful.
And Randolph wishes – If only more of his work involved sinewy, sunburned, sensitive men, rather than people who lacked the common decency to die properly.
It happens that Randolph Glyde is a member of a group of people with extraordinary powers that fight against the shadows, the bad things, the villains that are coming back from the dark to haunt, and kill and destroy. He did also fought in the WWI, in the ‘War Beneath’, with supernatural powers fighting for Britain or Germany. He lost all his family. But it looks like that war is not over. When he finds Saul in those places, he asks himself whether Saul is friend or foe.
Saul is attracted to Randolph, but he cannot trust him, as he was painfully betrayed in the past and everybody has abandoned him after the war. And Randolph does also find him very attractive but he still has to find why Saul keeps on appearing when something strange happens. If he were just an Oxford archaeologist…
Here you find everything you expect in a KJ Charles novel -sexual tension, romantic uncertainty, a little bit of suspense, compelling dialogues and two or three mysteries. Not all of them are solved in this novel, I’m sorry to say. You’ll have to wait for the next books in the series.
I could say that, up to this point, KJ Charles is one of my favourite authors, since I discovered her in 2015 with Think of England. Therefore, this novel has not been in my TBR pile for long. She writes two kinds of historical novels -with and without paranormal elements. I like all of them but I prefer those without paranormal elements, because that is a genre I’m not very fond of. This is a book very close, in style, to the Charm of Magpies series.
The characters are so sexy, their feelings so intense and so little expressed, that you fall in love with them and cannot stop reading until the very end. Yes, it’s one of those books that can keep you awake at night or make you be late to your work.
I have to add that very few novels give you the real sense of the terrible carnage that World War I was. Both in Britain and France and Germany, a whole generation of young men was destroyed, absurdly destroyed, in the kind of industrial war that used men as mere cannon fodder. There were villages where none of the young men survived. And the post-war times were full of old men and despair. The Roaring Twenties were not so Golden or Happy in a Europe, in countries that still suffered from the consequences of the war. Only after Locarno agreements (1925) the situation started to really improve, but for very few years. The Great Depression was just around the corner.
Part of that desperation and the horrifying experience of the Great War is shown here. And I have to say that I’m always impressed when romance books, that are supposed to be just commercial fiction, portray these things better than many literary books.
So, another great book by KJ Charles. Yes, I do not give it 5 stars but it is only because of the way I grade books, comparing them with other books written by the same author. And 5-stars books by KJ Charles are –for me- Think of England, A Seditious Affair and An Unnatural Vice.
But I have still to find a story of hers that hasn’t kept me glued to the page.