Sins of the Cities: An Unnatural Vice – K.J. Charles
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.
The second book of the Sins of the Cities series, An Unnatural Vice centers on Justin Lazarus, Seer of London and his entanglement with Nathaniel Roy, crusading journalist. It picks up from the latter parts of An Unseen Attraction where Clem, Rowley, Mark and Nathaniel were on the business of the Clem’s family troubles.
The overarching thread of the series is the riveting mystery of who is murdering people to find information about the missing earl. Suspicious characters consulted the seer, then kidnapped him to force him to find the twins. He escaped but having no one to turn to, Justin ran to Nathaniel’s house to seek shelter. Nathaniel, his chivalrous streak a mile wide, offered his protection. Justin, unused to pure kindness, kept looking for strings attached. and Nathaniel had to keep assuring him there were none. From the get go, we know Justin Lazarus was a fraud but boy, was he really convincing. So convincing in fact that sometimes I forget that this series is historical and not paranormal. I really enjoyed the parts where he revealed his tricks to Nathaniel. Lying, cheating bastard that he is, Nathaniel still saw the good in him, his intelligence, confidence and skills. This is one of the parts I liked best. Nathaniel never lost faith that Justin could be so much more than a fake medium. But as much as I like the two characters and as clearly as I could see their chemistry, I was meh about them as a couple. I don’t know why. Bummer.
The big reveal, now that was quite something! Through Mark’s efforts, the missing Repentance and Regret were found and the chaos that ensued was a major laugh out loud moment. Poor Mark though. Can’t wait for his and Pen’s book. The Talleyfer family troubles is still far from being resolved.
Time and time again, K.J. Charles proved that she’s not capable of writing a bad story. While I am not blown away by the Sins of the Cities series, as much as I was with the beloved Society of Gentlemen and A Charm of Magpies, I think her slightly mediocre (if we can call something this good mediocre) works still read as highly enjoyable, fast paced and gripping. As expected of the author, there is strong sense of time and place. London is very much vividly present in most of her works. The cherry on top was narrator, Matthew Lloyd Davis who was a master at bringing the characters to life. His run through the entire spectrum of voices and accents was very convincing.
Unfortunately, this had to end with a cliffhanger so I recommend buying all three books before starting on this trilogy.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love