The Fortune Hunter – Bonnie Dee
A man with nothing finds everything.
Abandoned at birth, WWI veteran Hal Stanton faces bleak employment prospects in post-war London. Desperation spurs him to reinvent himself to hook a wealthy wife, one he will be devoted to even if he feels no real passion. But when he meets his fiance’s cousin, Julian Needham, it’s all he can do to keep his heart in check and his eye on the prize.
From the moment he’s introduced to the charming stranger Margaret plans to marry, Julian suspects the man’s motives yet fights a relentless attraction. He’s determined to reveal Hal as a fraud but must handle the matter delicately to protect his sweet cousin’s feelings. A weekend at the family estate should allow time and opportunity for him to expose Halstead Wiley.
Even as the men match wits in a battle of attempted unmasking, powerful sexual attraction threatens to overcome them both and win the day. Can a true love connection possibly grow between these adversaries without destroying lives and loved ones?
In a story involving gold diggers and love triangles, you are bound to end up hating one of the characters. Fortunately, Bonnie Dee writes people well. Julian and Hal were both flawed but still, essentially, have good intentions. The woman, Margaret, is intelligent, sweet and ahead of her time.
The story starts with Margaret introducing Hal to the Needham family as her fiance. Julian suspects Hal to be a gold digger and sets about trying to unmask him but of course, they couldn’t help but like each other and tentatively tried to get along for Margaret’s sake. Bonnie Dee did a great job keeping the undercurrent of attraction and deeper connection simmering underneath their truce. I felt sorry for Hal. He just wanted to have a better life. And after Margaret’s decision, he was in an even sorrier state. Julian’s effort to find Hal and their reunion was all I could ever asked for.
When I began reading, I found the first quarter a bit slow and stopped for a couple of weeks. However I was glad I picked it up again because I enjoyed Hal and Julian bonding in the library. That joke about an angel visiting an orphan boy got me laughing. I like that Hal and Julian are both good friends and lovers. Margaret’s fate was predictable but still satisfying. I’m glad she found her perfect match.
Extra points for the the post-WWI setting and how the author was able to easily transport me to this time period. It’s rarely featured in MM books. It was the time when the upper class way of life started to change. There were less money and less servants. The manor upkeep was hard and the landed gentry turn to tourism to keep up with the cost. They also had to keep up with the times by installing telephones, modern plumbing and electricity. Old guards might balk at this but the more practical ones knew they had to make changes. I would have loved a tour of Julian’s family estate. I have always loved old houses and visiting a house with a name is always a treat. Especially if Hal’s hosting the tour.
Again, The Fortune Hunter might start slow and the characters might be unlikable but it would gradually draw you in and you’ll end up rooting for Julian and Hal. Highly recommended!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Seducing the Sedgewicks: It Takes Two to Tumble – Cat Sebastian
Some of Ben Sedgwick’s favorite things:
Helping his poor parishioners
Shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre
After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he’s asked to look after an absent naval captain’s three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything.
Some of Phillip Dacre’s favorite things:
People doing precisely as they’re told
Touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity
Phillip can’t wait to leave England’s shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can’t seem to live without Ben’s winning smiles or devastating kisses.
In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben’s family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.
By now, people had already written many glowing reviews about the story of walking ray of sunshine Ben Sedgwick, also known as vicar of St. Aelred’s and the grumpy Captain Phillip Dacre, father of three incorrigible children. Borrowing some ideas from the Sound of Music, this book is as warm as the musical and as bright and happy as summer.
Everybody in this book, from the children, Ned, Jamie and Peggy, to the cook, Mrs. Morris, to the supposed villain Easterbrook were all well-rounded, likable characters.
Ben being a man of the cloth, the author could have gone the angsty religion vs sexuality route. Fortunately it was not the focus but it was still touched upon in a very sensible way. The writing was in that smooth, upbeat Cat Sebastian style with liberal touches of cute and fluff all over it. However, I think the ending was a bit abrupt and needs an epilogue. They have only been together for the duration of summer and it would have been great if we could see their life together in the coming seasons (maybe in the coming books? Book two is Hartley, Ben’s younger brother.). Overall, one of the best historical romance this year and a great start to a new series.
4.5 – perfection is only half a step away
Like a Gentleman – Eliot Grayson
James Rowley, penniless younger brother of an earl, discovers his rejected sensational story has been stolen and printed under another name — and he’s certain his editor is the guilty party. Determined to get his due, he sets out for London to take revenge on the perfidious L. Wells. He means to have satisfaction, even if he needs to pose as a simpering fop in a pink waistcoat to get it.
Two years before, intrigued by his favorite writer’s talent and wit, Leo Wells had visited the Rowley estate incognito, seen James’s portrait — and promptly lost what was left of his heart. Ever since, Leo has fought his obsession with his favorite writer. Unaware of the manuscript’s theft, he’s bewildered and heartbroken when James, acting the part of a sneering dandy, visits him in person only to use his obvious attraction against him.
From Gloucestershire to London to Portsmouth, can two men with society and secrets dividing them find happiness?
This is such a delightful little Regency romance debut by Eliot Grayson. Short as it is, it felt complete with all the ingredients that makes it a good historical read. Both MCs are likable and their attraction to each other was believable. The writing is in that distinct British style that I like. There seems to be hints for another book about Rowley’s friend. I’m looking forward to that.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal – K.J. Charles
A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.
A note to the Editor
I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.
You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.
So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.
I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.
I said before I didn’t really care for Caldwell and Feximal’s romance when I read Remnant. I spoke too soon apparently. Going into this book, at first, I really didn’t but I gradually grew to like them both as characters and I’m happy that they are happy together. However, the beauty of this book is that it kept me hooked despite my initial apathy to the romance part. The stories are brilliant spins on British folklore interwoven with actual historical details. This is one of the delights of reading a K.J. Charles book. I always learn unfamiliar and sometimes obscure tidbits of British folklore and history that they never show on tv.
The Casebook is written as a collection of different stories each featuring a case Feximal and Caldwell worked on as well as updates on how their relationship developed and thrived. The last few stories were especially evocative. I have read Spectred Isle before this and recalling and connecting these two books stirred strong emotions.The ending was heartbreaking as well with war and all its consequences. I would choose to believe the editor’s note on Mediterranean cottages and ghostless quiet for my peace of mind. Simon and Robert deserved it.
4.5 – perfection is only half a step away
A Society of Gentlemen: A Private Miscellany – K.J. Charles
A short (7.5K words) free coda to the Society of Gentlemen series, catching up on the main characters a year and a half later.
Available through subscription to the author’s newsletter
Portrait with Fox!!! Somebody make a fanart of that quick!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
Society of Gentlemen: A Confidential Problem – K.J. Charles
‘A Confidential Problem’ is a 4,000 word scene which takes place between chapters 15 and 16 of A Seditious Affair (after Silas has gone down to Arrandene, but before the finale). It’s not standalone, and won’t make any sense if you haven’t read A Seditious Affair.
Available through submission to the author’s page newsletter.
I still couldn’t get over this series! This short story features the development of Silas and Cyprian’s friendship. Cyprian was his cool, cunning self all throughout the conversation but when Silas turned the tables by asking the pertinent question, BAM! Right at the kokoro!
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
A Society of Gentlemen: A Gentleman’s Position – K.J. Charles
Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.
For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.
I suppose that topless guy up there is Lord Richard Vane. Not bad. Alas, no Foxy. But look, he’s on the Italian edition!
A Gentleman’s Position is my most anticipated book of the series and it was as brilliant as I had expected. There was so much unresolved sexual tension between Lord Richard Vane and his ever loyal and devoted valet Cyprian. Oh, happy goosebumps!
Cyprian or Foxy David is the character I was most excited to get to know. He is an unprincipled, scheming genius whom Richard depends on to deal with unsavory business. He is in love with Richard since forever and when he finally blurted out his feeling to his lord, the damn fool pushed him away.
I’m not really feeling Richard very much. I must be dense but I needed it spelled out: what on earth does David like about Richard?. Richard is so morally absolute and stuck in the mud to the point of being an idiot. He’s a good guy though and would do everything for his friends but apart from that, all he does is roughshod all over people. He means well but he’s a mess especially without Cyprian. When Richard finally did good and they got together, the feels overflowed!
The other part of the story involves the rest of the gentlemen. Their enemy Maltravers stole a letter poor Ash had written to Francis, the contents of which details their affair. Maltravers plans to blackmail his brother and bring down Silas along with Harry which has dire consequences on the rest of the gentlemen. How Cyprian pulled all the strings and made his puppets dance to save everyone was really ingenious and one of the things I really liked about this story and with the entire series in general is that even if you take away the love stories and let it just be about schemes, political intrigue, family scandals and class conflicts, it would still be as riveting as it is with the M/M angle.
Overall, I couldn’t ask for ask for a more perfect conclusion to this great series.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect
Society of Gentlemen: A Seditious Affair – K.J. Charles
Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution … and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.
A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.
It should be said that although A Society of Gentlemen is a brilliant historical romance series, the cover designs are terrible. Look at that one on top. Who is that suppose to be? The models don’t look anything like the characters they’re suppose to represent. There wasn’t even any blond guy on the cover of A Fashionable Indulgence.
A Seditious Affair focuses on Silas and Dominic who regularly meets anonymously every Wednesday for some BDSM fun. Silas is a firebrand radical who writes the most libelous pamphlets around and Dominic is a dyed in the wool Tory who works in the Home Office. They never get into their heads to ask each other names and so when the Home Office people raids Silas’ bookshop in search for incriminating materials, they were both in for a surprise. The rest of the book deals with the events after.
This is definitely much better than the first. For one, Harry and Julius from the POV of somebody else, Silas for example, turned out to be more likable, funnier and snarkier than in book one. Second, people often use the phrase “the struggle is real” in memes. Here, the phrase applies in several, heart wrenching levels. I really felt for Silas and Dominic and how they fought to be together and how they dealt with external and internal conflicts. I love how Silas is so non-judgmental and accepting of people and their unique preferences and helped Dominic step out of Richard’s shadow and accept himself. For some reason, I get a kick out of Silas calling Dominic “Tory”.
Third, there were some very real historical events interwoven with the different scandals involving our gentlemen. The author kept some of the dialogue as accurate as possible based on historical accounts. The resolution was complicated but very believable and satisfying. All the gentlemen pitched in even Ash (watch out for a very “Ashish” moment). Of course, it was all Foxy’s doing.
Overall, great love story between two men with opposing political views plus a good historical account of some dark period in Regency England.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect