Historical (Period)

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities #1) by K.J. Charles

an-unseen-attractionRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Historical; Mystery 
Publication day:
 February 21, 2017
Length: 
247 pages  
Publisher:
Loveswept

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

My View: An Unseen Attraction is an interesting historical that goes with K.J. Charles’s style. As always, it’s well-written and detailed; perfect for the period and the mystery ahead. Everything from the weather to the clothing plays a part in the book.

This story can be considered a friends-to-lovers even when we don’t see much of the friendship taking place. The setup reminds me of a game of Clue; trying to determine where the murder was committed, how, by who, when, etc. There are players inside the boarding house and outside forces.

Some parts moved at a quick pace and others dragged. The sex scenes were a bit hard to follow and Rowley’s preferences, mixed with Clem’s responses were some sort of surprise. Almost like having stuntmen taking their place. Plus, they switched from confident to needy in a blink of an eye.

If you are a K.J. Charles’s fan, love historicals or mysteries, this story is for you. It’s easy to read an interesting enough for a single day read.

What I liked the most: The period’s details.

I wanted more/less: Less details about Rowley’s work and more interaction with other characters.

Who should read it:  Fans of historical mysteries.

ARC provided by Loveswept, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Wanted, A Gentleman by K.J. Charles

wantedRating: 3.5 stars
Genre: 
Historical
Publication day:
 January 9, 2017
Length: 
155 pages  
Publisher:
Riptide

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring

a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber

***

In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

My View: I like this story, but I didn’t love it. There’s something I can’t pinpoint that was missing for me to make this a great read. Perhaps it’s more me than the story, but that connection between the MCs was not enough for me to get invested. I love their individual stories, but as a couple, I was not too interested in knowing what would happen next.

Theo was my favorite of the pair. He was funny and broken, but still, he looked forward to doing his job, even if it was out of necessity. Martin background was discussed in the forefront, but it felt like a history lesson more than a historical.

The travel, the settings, and the complete atmosphere were the best part of the story. It was easy to be transported to those time in which social status and family obligations ruled the world. I’d like to read more stories in this world and to know more about Theo and Martin in the near future.

What I liked the most: How well the main characters complemented each other as colleagues.

I wanted more/less: More time to see Martin and Theo be together as a couple.

Who should read it: Fans of historical romance with diverse characters.

ARC provided by Riptide, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Trailer Trash by Marie Sexton

Trailer TrashRate: 5 stars
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication day: March 21, 2016
Length:  340 pages
Publisher: Riptide

It’s 1986, and what should have been the greatest summer of Nate Bradford’s life goes sour when his parents suddenly divorce. Now, instead of spending his senior year in his hometown of Austin, Texas, he’s living with his father in Warren, Wyoming, population 2,833 (and Nate thinks that might be a generous estimate). There’s no swimming pool, no tennis team, no mall—not even any MTV. The entire school’s smaller than his graduating class back home, and in a town where the top teen pastimes are sex and drugs, Nate just doesn’t fit in.

Then Nate meets Cody Lawrence. Cody’s dirt-poor, from a broken family, and definitely lives on the wrong side of the tracks. Nate’s dad says Cody’s bad news. The other kids say he’s trash. But Nate knows Cody’s a good kid who’s been dealt a lousy hand. In fact, he’s beginning to think his feelings for Cody go beyond friendship.

Admitting he might be gay is hard enough, but between small-town prejudices and the growing AIDS epidemic dominating the headlines, a town like Warren, Wyoming, is no place for two young men to fall in love.

Heartbreaking, but beautiful.

My View: Trailer Trash isn’t an easy read. It’s filled with information, character development, setting & placement, and so much more. The author did an excellent job making a story set in the eighties relevant, bringing a growing relationship to the forefront during the AIDS epidemic.

I’m not a YA reader, but Nate and Cody captivated me from the very beginning. I got invested in them, their town, and their hopes. I felt their pain and wished with them for a brighter future.

They didn’t live in a bubble. They were part of a family, a school, a community. We get to see every aspect of their journey, and the story never felt too long or philosophical. The little insides about the gay community in the United States were enough to make the reader aware of the difficult views people had during that time.

The story is heartbreaking. The amount of despair and grief increases with every page, but behind everything, there’s a story of young love and possibilities. The journey in this story is as important as the ending. All the characters involved had a purpose and further the plot.

I can lower the rating if I look into particular parts of the story, but the overall is strong enough to allow for flexibility. The story isn’t perfect, but it’s a delight to read, even the sad parts. In the end, there’s hope.

What I liked the most: How much Nate and Cody trusted each other, even when they were apart.

I wanted more of: A future. I was hoping for an epilogue thirty years later.

Who should read it: Readers looking for a well-developed story with a great setting and sense of time & place.

ARC courtesy of Riptide, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk

WiddershinsRate: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Paranormal, Historical
Pages: 236
Duration: 9 hours and 15 minutes
Narrator: Julian G. Simmons
Published: May 24, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published

Some things should stay buried.

Repressed scholar Percival Endicott Whyborne has two skills: reading dead languages and hiding in his office at the Ladysmith Museum. After the tragic death of the friend he secretly loved, he’s ruthlessly suppressed any desire for another man.

So when handsome ex-Pinkerton Griffin Flaherty approaches him to translate a mysterious book, Whyborne wants to finish the job and get rid of the detective as quickly as possible. Griffin left the Pinkertons following the death of his partner, hoping to start a new life. But the powerful cult which murdered Glenn has taken root in Widdershins, and only the spells in the book can stop them. Spells the intellectual Whyborne doesn’t believe are real.

As the investigation draws the two men closer, Griffin’s rakish charm threatens to shatter Whyborne’s iron control. When the cult resurrects an evil sorcerer who commands terrifying monsters, can Whyborne overcome his fear and learn to trust? Will Griffin let go of his past and risk falling in love? Or will Griffin’s secrets cost Whyborne both his heart and his life?

My View: I enjoyed this first in the series, but not as much as other books by the author. Perhaps because this is one of her oldest volumes and her writing had matured over time. Even so, the story was interesting and engaging; especially, the historical aspects.

I liked everything about this story, from the characters, the events, to the every day mundane situations. It almost read as an MM installment in the Indiana Jones franchise. The addition of Christine to the story gave more to the plot than a simple love story. At the same time, it helped the author set the characteristic of the time; in which women in the workforce were as frown upon as gay men.

The relationship between Griffin and Percival felt more like an HFN than an HEA to me. Maybe if Percival had taken a little longer to fall for Griffin, it would have worked better for me. He went from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

Narrator: I got the additional audio edition, but I didn’t like the narrator. I’m not sure if it was the quality of the recording or the voices; it needed a little more. It was good enough to listen as I drove or when cooking, but not a narration to be immersed on.

What I liked the most: The historical aspect and how well the author integrated little bits of history to the fictional elements.

I wanted more of: A relationship between Griffin and Percival. I felt more of a connection between Leander and Percival.

Who should read it: Jordan L. Hawk fans.

Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk

Restless SpiritsRate: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Publication day: June 6, 2015
Length: 218 pages
Publisher: Widdershins Press LLC (Self-Published)

After losing the family fortune to a fraudulent psychic, inventor Henry Strauss is determined to bring the otherworld under control through the application of science. All he needs is a genuine haunting to prove his Electro-Séance will work. A letter from wealthy industrialist Dominic Gladfield seems the answer to his prayers. Gladfield’s proposition: a contest pitting science against spiritualism, with a hefty prize for the winner.

The contest takes Henry to Reyhome Castle, the site of a series of brutal murders decades earlier. There he meets his rival for the prize, the dangerously appealing Vincent Night. Vincent is handsome, charming…and determined to get Henry into bed.

Henry can’t afford to fall for a spirit medium, let alone the competition. But nothing in the haunted mansion is quite as it seems, and soon winning the contest is the least of Henry’s concerns.

For the evil stalking the halls of Reyhome Castle wants to claim not just Henry and Vincent’s lives, but their very souls.

My View: It took me a long time to read this book, but I enjoyed it in the end. I read the Spectr series part 1 and loved Gray, but I think Vincent and Henry are fighting for a close second.

I had some trouble in the beginning following the pace of the changing POVs, and it took me a minute to figure out the four main characters, but after that, it was a relatively easy book to follow. Almost like a game of Clue mixed with a historical version of Scobby-Do. Definitely, a clever book.

Other than the characters, I enjoyed the events, in addition to the not quite romantic plot. The MCs had great chemistry, but I think they got more of a strong HFN than an HEA. Needless to say, the build-up and banter, leading to their relationship was entertaining, even if so, a little easy for men of their time.

The string of events and the diversity of the characters worked well with the story. And, I need to accept that I didn’t guess the perpetrator. In the end, the author threaded a great story, filled with true and ingenious facts to give the reader a well-paced adventure with a taste of romance. Looking forward to the next book in the series.

What I liked the most: The mystery and paranormal aspects of the story.

I wanted more of: Probably a pause between the POV changes at the beginning of the story.

Who should read it: Fans of paranormal and historical stories.