A Fashionable Indulgence, by K.J. Charles (A Society of Gentlemen Novel)
Publisher: Random House/Loveswept (August 11, 2015)
Page Count: 264 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Historical Romance
Rating: 5 out of 5
* I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. *
Summary: When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: Julius Norreys, the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.
My Thoughts: K.J. Charles’ beautiful writing, compelling characters, and expert historical knowledge will sweep you off your feet and back to Regency England. Here the poor clash with the rich, and a young man must decide if living the life he’s always dreamed of is worth turning his back on what he believes is right.
First off, I don’t think the summary does the story justice, so… Harry was raised by his radical parents, but the constant fear or riots and arrests has led him to realize that he doesn’t value the politics as strongly as his parents did. He initially jumps at the chance to be accepted by his wealthy grandfather, to live among the highest class of society… even to the point of agreeing to marry his cousin in order to inherit. But it quickly becomes obvious to him that he cannot ignore the suffering of the friends he’s left behind in the mud, and he has to make some very difficult decisions.
In the midst of the political and economical drama, Charles weaves in a lovely romance between Harry and his mentor, Julius. Though they begin as just friends, attraction quickly flares between the two men. They’re lucky to be surrounded by a close-knit group of men who share their orientation, and who help support and protect their growing relationship. This is a time period when homosexuality was punishable by death, so there’s a constant need for secrecy as both men transition from attraction to love.
And while this is definitely a romance, it’s also a lot more than that. Charles has the rare and precious talent of being able to bring history to life without bogging the reader down with the mundane and uninteresting tidbits. This is a richly illustrated society, and Charles uses Harry as a bridge between the starving commoners and the ludicrously wealthy elite. She does an amazing job of showing the politics of the period in such a way that it enhances the plot.
I think my favorite part of this book was the character of Julius. He’s a dandy, preferring to focus on his appearance over anything else. But he’s also an incredibly complex character, a man with a tragic past who has buried himself in the superficial in the hopes of masking his pain. Harry might be the protagonist, but it’s Julius who shows an emotional transformation as he learns to open his heart and trust in his love for Harry.
I could honestly go on and on about this novel, but I’ll restrain myself. Instead, I’ll end this review by saying that this is the perfect historical romance, where the characters are intriguing and the romance unfolds naturally and elegantly. Highly recommended, and I can’t wait for the other two books in the trilogy!
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