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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (August 5, 2020)

    Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

    Original Rules

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago.
    • Find a book that will be published THIS year.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT year.

    Some slight revision of the rules:

    • Find a book published 10+ years ago
    • Find a book that will be published THIS month.
    • Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Any Old Diamonds by K.J. Charles

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    Lilywhite Boys: Any Old Diamonds – K.J. Charles

    Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.

    The Duke’s remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he’ll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec’s new best friend.

    But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.

    Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what’s between them…all without getting caught.


    This is the story of the wicked thief who taught a lord to lie and how the lord undone him with his truths.

    Jerry Crozier was all that was advertised and more. Controlling, remote and devastating. He is unapologetic about what or who he is. The man was as compelling as the sweet whisperings of Lucifer. Alec stood no chance of resisting.

    Lord Alexander ‘Alec’ Pyne-ffoulkes has the kind of innocence that begs to be ruined. And he was very much willing to be so. His submission belies an inner strength capable of tapping into his baser nature and going against everything he loves just to get revenge. All without losing said innocence at all.

    Alec gave Jerry complete control to do whatever he pleases. Jerry is a man who LOVES control. In all fairness, the whole thing was beautifully done. I’m just not a fan of BDSM so the plaything aspect wasn’t something I go for in romance stories.

    It started as physical. As the story progressed, we see subtle hints of finer feelings. This was my favorite parts. The gestures were so simple, a tighter grip or a change of breath, and so casually mentioned you’d missed it if you don’t pay attention.

    The story focused more on the relationship between the two main characters. The progression was flawless. Jerry taught Alec how to play the long game. All throughout, we see the master thief in control until… he wasn’t. Because Alec SAW him.

    I see hints of Gabriel ‘Ash’ Ashleigh (Society of Gentlemen) in Alec. Especially in how his naivety could be so effective in making him the best kind of liar. The kind who tells the truth. This particular characteristic was masterfully put to good use all throughout the book.

    The heist plotline, while secondary, was still top notch in its execution. We meet another Lilywhite Boy, Templeton Lane and private detective, Susan Lazarus. Suzy, who we first meet as a child in Sins of the City, is all grown up and ready to kick some ass. She and Temp has some pretty interesting history going on. They have their own book.

    The family drama was as sordid as to be expected. According to the author, this was based on a real life couple. And since the author does not write one-dimensional characters, she even made the stepmother and Alec’s father vile yet sympathetic enough to make Alec think twice about his revenge.

    The big twist! I totally didn’t see it coming. The author really outdid herself with how this particular scene was written. It was a tricky thing making us see a character from another’s perspective while still writing in the first character’s POV. The result? I was as flabbergasted by the whole thing as Jerry and Temp.

    Any Old Diamonds is one of K.J. Charles best written books. The character portraits were some of the best I’ve come across with. It’s very twisty and unpredictable. And so very clever!

    P.S.

    The Lilywhite Boys takes place 20 years after Sins of the Cities. It is not necessary to read the earlier series to enjoy this but why miss out on meeting the deliciously devious Justin Lazarus and his friends? Sins of the Cities review here.
    K.J. Charles books here.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: The Long Game
    Artist: Johnathan Rice
    Album: The Long Game

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    FIRST LINES FRIDAY 56: It’s Amazing What People Throw Away

    First Line Fridays” is by Hoarding Books and is all about the first line of a current/upcoming read. Friday 56 is a meme hosted by Freda’s Voice, where you turn to page 56 (or 56%) in what you’re reading a find a snippet that jumps out at you. The idea to combine the two came from Kat @ Here There Be Dragons

    I found this meme on The Writerly Way. And I’m doing this on a Thursday just to be difficult.

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    THE AMERICAN HORROR STORY BOOK TAG

    This tag is brought to you by Susan at Novel Lives. She made this tag and you should click the link to check out the original tag and her blog!

    I found this on My Year of Reading Dangerously. The gifs are theirs.

    I LOVE American Horror Story. The visuals are always stunning! But after Hotel, I was too chickenshit to watch the other seasons.

    Here goes my little tribute to this terrorific show…

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

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    Band Sinister – K.J. Charles

    Sir Philip Rookwood is the disgrace of the county. He’s a rake and an atheist, and the rumours about his hellfire club, the Murder, can only be spoken in whispers. (Orgies. It’s orgies.)

    Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in rural seclusion after a family scandal. But when Amanda breaks her leg in a riding accident, she’s forced to recuperate at Rookwood Hall, where Sir Philip is hosting the Murder. 

    Guy rushes to protect her, but the Murder aren’t what he expects. They’re educated, fascinating people, and the notorious Sir Philip turns out to be charming, kind—and dangerously attractive. 

    In this private space where anything goes, the longings Guy has stifled all his life are impossible to resist…and so is Philip. But all too soon the rural rumour mill threatens both Guy and Amanda. The innocent country gentleman has lost his heart to the bastard baronet—but does he dare lose his reputation too?

    I haven’t read Georgette Heyer but if her works are as fun-tastic as this, I’d gladly read her entire oeuvre.

    Band Sinister is KJ Charlesgoing full Heyer” and there’s lots to love.

    First, the characters all stood out, even the secondaries and extras who had minimal page time. She made me curious about all the cast that I started wishing for a book for many of them. Especially Corvin! Give us Corvin’s book, please please please!!! He’s just too good to pass up.

    The rake and the virgin trope was executed perfectly! A lot of times, this trope could get rapey so a million points for the big emphasis on consent. I loved Philip Rookwood for being simultaneously a devilish gentleman and golden-hearted rake. Who could resist such combination!

    “Let me be frank. I find you intriguing, and extremely appealing, and delightful company, and very much a man who deserves more pleasure in his life. If you’d like to take that pleasure with me, I’d be honoured. If you aren’t so minded, don’t take offence at the offer, and I shan’t at the refusal. And if you decide you’d prefer Corvin, for example, I shall bow out like a gentleman, although I shall probably kick him in the shins at some point from pure envy.”

    Certainly not Guy! Who soon discovered there is so much more to their neighbor and his hellfire club than their unspeakable activities. Who was intrigued and curious despite himself. Who found the courage to be honest and go after what he wanted. And who was the best brother any sister could hope for.

    Guy and Amanda’s relationship was one of the most enjoyable part of the book. The siblings stuck together no matter what and I’m glad that both of them got their HEA in equally adorable ways.

    Needless to say, I love the Murder! I wanted to join the club. A Facebook friend once said, our country is stuck in perma-Victorian times, and although Band Sinister is set in the Regency period, the small town small minded atmosphere is similar to the oppressiveness of Guy and Amanda’s village. A club like the Murder would be like a breath of fresh air. I could totally understand the sense of liberation Guy felt when he was with Philip and his friends.

    KJC has always been a great storyteller and her writing was sharp as always. There were many lines that had me chuckling and laughing out loud. Her writing works wonderfully well with Cornell Collins’ narration whose delivery of upper crust sarcasm practically “dripped to the carpet

    Band Sinister is the type of book you could enjoy reading over and over again. It is peopled with characters you’d love to be friends with. It takes well-worn tropes and turn them on their heads, and in doing so gave them polish and edge. I would love more of this sensational world of hellfire clubs, gothic novelists and free-spirited individuals. I would certainly love another rendezvous with our polyamorous gang so more Murder please!

    P.S.

    Lord Corvin and John Raven also appeared on Wanted, An Author (review here).
    KJC books here

    Rating:
    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Stay Here For A While
    Artist: Paper Lions
    Album: Trophies

  • book,  Uncategorized

    A Charm of Magpies: Rag and Bone – K.J. Charles

    It’s amazing what people throw away…

    Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.

    Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.

    But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.

    Fluffiest KJC book so far!

    Awesome magic system based on frequencies and resonance.

    “Freckles” !!! 

    (๑˃ᴗ˂)ﻭ

    Crispin + Ned = adorbs!!! 

    ✺(^▽^✺) ✺(^O^)✺ (✺^▽^)✺

     Appearances by Stephen Day (please don’t leave the Justiciary, please), Mrs. Gold, Janossi, and Ben Spencer.

    Jonah Pastern pops out of nowhere:

    Ned looked round, startled. He hadn’t noticed anyone joining him, but there
    he was, a young chap with a jagged streak of white running through his black
    hair, like a lightning strike. He was good-looking, blue-eyed, smartly dressed
    with a flash blue waistcoat, and if ever Ned had seen untrustworthy, it was
    sitting on the bench next to him. 

    Oh Jonah! 

    (-‸ლ) 

    The villain was kind of obvious but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story.

    Cornell Collins’ voice for the ghost thing is creeeepy. Do not listen to it in the dark at 3 a.m.

    Fighting resurrected witches with music hall sensations is a thing now?

    Magic police are cool!

    P.S.

    I recommend reading the fantastic A Charm of Magpies series before reading Rag and Bone.

    Rating:

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Butterfly Caught
    Artist: Massive Attack
    Album: 100th Window

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34870160-rag-and-bone)

  • book,  Uncategorized

    Unfit to Print – K.J. Charles

    When crusading lawyer Vikram Pandey sets out in search of a missing youth, his investigations take him to Holywell Street, London’s most notorious address. He expects to find a disgraceful array of sordid bookshops. He doesn’t expect one of them to be run by the long-lost friend whose disappearance and presumed death he’s been mourning for thirteen years.

    Gil Lawless became a Holywell Street bookseller for his own reasons, and he’s damned if he’s going to apologise or listen to moralising from anyone. Not even Vikram; not even if the once-beloved boy has grown into a man who makes his mouth water.

    Now the upright lawyer and the illicit bookseller need to work together to track down the missing youth. And on the way, they may even learn if there’s more than just memory and old affection binding them together…

    A double post in celebration of the World Cup.

    Congratulations, France!

    I’m team Croatia but I couldn’t find a Croatian LGBTQIA+ book, so even though it did not come home, here’s an English book anyway. 

    Anything K.J. Charles writes, I read. I am reading my way through her existing oeuvre. At the latest count, there are probably only 4 books left that I need to get my hands on. I hope she keep those goodies coming.

    As she had stated on her blog, historical romance and happy endings should not be limited to rich white people and true to her word, she has created happy endings for a jobbing writer and a black merchant as seen in Wanted, a Gentleman, an Indian lodgings keeper and a Victorian taxidermist in An Unseen Attraction and has also included a transman and black club manager (a couple) in the A Society of Gentlemen series. 

    Unfit to Print is another example of Charles’ consistent effort to write diverse and inclusive stories. Vikram Pandey is a successful Indian lawyer who works pro bono for the poor Indian residents of London. He was tasked to look for a missing Indian boy and his search brought him to the ironically named Holywell Street which is the Akihabara of porn in 19th century England. To his extreme shock, he found his childhood friend and former school buddy Gil Lawless, long thought dead for 13 years. Gil is a mulatto bastard of the Lawes family, swindled out of his inheritance and abandoned to the streets by his half brother, Matthew. He now owns a bookstore selling illicit materials.

    Vikram is a moralizing, uptight gentleman with an overactive sense of responsibility and Gil is one of the free love, free will, mutual enjoyment sort who let the others do the worrying because it’s damn well none of his business. Theirs is a combination that worked quite well despite of and/or because of the differences. Vik sees through Gil’s well-cultivated apathy and knows he cares. Why else would he come to Vik’s office? Gil brought the joy and the smiles back to Vik’s life like he always had all those years ago in Oxford. And when one is uptight and the other is insouciant, the resulting dialogue is usually the laugh out loud kind.

    “You’ve really got a problem with the pictures?”

    “Of course I do,” Vikram snapped. “They’re illegal, immoral, and obscene.”

    “Right, but what’s bad about them?”

    Although the main focus was Vik and Gil and the mystery was light, it wasn’t a slouch on that area either. The two did great detective work, sorting through a massive heap of porn photos looking for clues on the whereabouts of the missing boy, Sunil, who worked as a model in some of the photos. Their search also bought another case

    to their attention, that of a young boy who was found in the streets with his skull caved in, and as this boy was also found posing in the pictures, they knew the cases were related.

    I commend the amount of research done for this story. I think modern day porn connoisseurs would be astounded at the variety and scope of Victorian era pornography. As always, the way Charles writes about London is like opening a door and getting hit with the smell of Thames and a barrage of Anglo accents. I also liked the way Vik and Gil’s race and background were worked into the story in a very natural way. They were important and were touched upon but not the focus. Rather, there was the well-paced and well-fleshed out development of their characters and relationship, there was the fight to right the wrongs done to poor immigrants, a discussion on the depths people go through to survive, a look at the hypocrisy of the upper class and an exhortation to be happy even if life has given you one too many kicks in the guts.

    “What’s important,” he said carefully. “For me, what’s important is that you give  each other a good time when you can. Carpe diem, as they used to say at school. Take your pleasures where you find them, while they last.”

    “And do anything you like, because it doesn’t really matter?”

    “Being alive matters,” Gil said, on a sudden wave of something like anger. “It matters that I’ve got a warm room and a full belly, and I know that because I went a while without those things, which I’ll bet is more than you ever did. It matters that I’ve a pal with me, and there’s something I reckon you’ve been missing. It matters to be happy instead of miserable.”

    It’s easy to take the high moral ground but there’s also the adage of walking a mile in another man’s shoes. I think Vik and Gil made a compelling case of how we can make these things work, of keeping an open mind, of giving enough damns and taking action.

    This is an opposite attracts + childhood friends to lovers story + second chance romance with great sense of time and place, palpable Victorian atmosphere and as always, that distinctly sharp humor I have come to associate with Charles’ writing. This might not be her best work, hence the quibbles, but if  you ask me what’s wrong with it, I really couldn’t say. Still, this is a great addition to her collective body of work. 

    Definitely recommended!

    Rating: 
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39330140-unfit-to-print)

    P.S.

    image

    Wanted, an Author – K.J. Charles

    Wanted, an Author is a 5000-word story set in 1807. It returns to the characters of Wanted, a Gentleman, and also introduces a character from my forthcoming novel, Band Sinister.
    A Newsletter freebie.
    This works best if you’ve read Wanted, a Gentleman.

    In Unfit to Print, Gil found a copy of Jonathan: or, The Trials of Virtue, said to be the holy grail of illicit books. Here is where you find the author who wrote it.

    Theo getting giddy at being called “a real writer” is adorbs! I’m glad his career is going well.

    Martin snoring like a foghorn and annoying the hell out of Theo is just too funny.

    Setting the story at the time when Parliament was voting for the abolition of slavery was a nice historical touch and a great excuse to party. And boy, did they party!

    John Raven and Lord Corvin! I can’t wait to see what mischief they are up to. 

    What’s up with all these birdy surnames?

    Rating: 
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40735423-wanted-an-author)

    Soundtrack: Adventures in Solitude
    Artist: The New Pornographers
    Album: Challengers