Title: An Unseen Attraction
Author: K. J. Charles
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Loveswept
Date of publication: February 21st 2017
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
Number of pages: Unknown
POV: 3rd person
Series: Sins of the Cities
An Unseen Attraction – Book 1
An Unnatural Vice – Book 2 (Expected publication date June 6th, 2017)
Can be read out-of-order from series: Yes, first book in series
A slow-burning romance and a chilling mystery bind two singular men in the suspenseful first book of a new Victorian series from K. J. Charles.
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 was 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.
This book took a while for me to get into. I almost DNF’d it about 16% into the book because it just dragged and I was wondering when the romance was going to start. But, right after I made that decision, everything happened. The book went from being boring to being very interesting. I couldn’t read it fast enough!!
The storyline was pretty good. Clem is the bastard younger brother of an Earl. 8 years before, when the former Earl died, he made sure that his legitimate son and heir took care of Clem. And by that, the new Earl bought a lodging house and made Clem the proprietor of it. Clem liked his job and liked most of the people who lodged there. With the exception of Lugtrout, a pastor who has lived there indefinitely and is a drunk. Lugtrout is the otherwise black spot on Clem’s happy life.
If Lugtrout is a black spot on Clem’s life, then Rowley Green is a bright, bright yellow spot. Rowley is a taxidermist who owns the shop next to Clem’s boarding house. In the 8 months that he has lived at the lodging house, Clem and Rowley have become fast friends. They share a nightly tea and have really gotten to know each other. Clem, though, is very attracted to Rowley but is afraid to say or do anything.
This is Victorian England and male/male relationships are not only frowned on but can constitute in 10 years of jail time. So, Clem has to be very careful about who he approaches. Luckily, he found a club called the Jack and Knave that is for men of Clem’s inclination.
Luckily for him, Rowley is also very attracted to Clem and on what I guess you could call their first date, he told Clem that he was attracted to him and shortly afterward, they had their first kiss. It was during that first kiss that Lugtrout started screaming that he had been robbed. After calming him down, Clem sends word to his brother about Mr. Lugtrout’s behavior….only to be told, in not so many words, “Deal with it”.
It is when Mr. Lugtrout is found murdered outside of the lodging house and then Rowley is attacked and his shop burned, is when the book picked up the pace. From then on, it was Clem and Rowley trying to figure out why Lugtrout was killed, who attacked Rowley and who tried to burn down Rowley’s shop. All on top of keeping their relationship super secret.
The sex scenes weren’t anything remarkable and I actually kinda disconnected from them in most scenes. I don’t know why. Maybe because it had to be super secret and the doors had to be shut and locked before anything was done. The oppression of that time was awful.
While I say that the sex scenes weren’t remarkable, I did think that the romance between Clem and Rowley were. Both had overcome a lot in their life and both were willing to make their relationship work….no matter what. What I thought sucked is that they couldn’t let on that they were in love. The only safe place was the club.
Now what I thought was refreshing was the club that Clem belonged to. There was a trans woman who tended the bar and I have never, ever read a historical romance book that is LGBTQIA that had a trans woman featured. And I loved it. I hope that Phyllis (aka Phil) makes more of an appearance in the other books.
The whodunit storyline was pretty predictable but I do like that the author did throw in a couple of curveballs. The main one being at the end of the story which threw things up in the air on Clem’s end.
Speaking of the end of the book, the author did a great job wrapping up the storylines. But, like I said above, the curveball at the end threw me. And it left for a great opener for the next story.
How many stars will I give An Unseen Attraction: 3
Why: While I liked the story, I had an issue getting into it. The characters were really hard for me to connect to at first but once I did, I really enjoyed them. Besides the book getting off to a very slow start, there was also a lull in the middle of the book. The author was able to get back on track but the lull was for a couple of chapters (when Clem and Edmund met) and I was pretty certain that the book wouldn’t recover from it.
Will I reread: On the fence about rereading it.
Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes
Age range: Adult
Why: Sex and some mild violence
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**