Author: K.J. Charles
Rating: 5 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: K. J. Charles turns up the heat in her new Society of Gentlemen novel, as two lovers face off in a sensual duel that challenges their deepest beliefs.
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.
Review:This is the second book in a series. While it could be read as a standalone, I have to ask why anyone would pass up the superb ‘A Fashionable Indulgence’ – the first book in the series – which initially introduces the reader to Dominic and Silas, the main characters in ‘A Seditious Affair’. In my opinion, do yourself a big favor and read them in order.
Brilliant: this book is exactly so. However, there is much to expound on!
While reading this story, I was thinking, how am I ever going to review this? KJ Charles’ writing is so extraordinary, so meaty. I found myself wanting to keep my finger on the highlight key -every single word is rich with meaning. I experienced the range of far reaching emotions right along with the characters. Each smile, each tear, each turmoil, each discovery, each heartache, each impassioned moment – all are related in stark glory.
Desire and Duty. Where does one draw a line? Must a line be drawn…..?
Dominic and Silas are two men from vastly differing societal/political classes, who have been meeting every Wednesday for a year. Neither is aware of the identity – indeed not even the name – of the other. Dominic is simply Silas’ “Tory” and Silas is Dom’s “brute”. They’ve no idea they would be enemies in the world outside of their cocooned trysts. Encounters which began as a fulfillment of sexual needs have evolved into so much more, although it takes the two a bit longer to realize this. Longer yet to accept the close relationship they have built. Their meetings began to include lengthy discussions regarding books, modern printing techniques, poetry, and a bit of politics. They even took to quoting poetry to one another – the works of William Blake for one – which absolutely had me swooning. Alas, as soon as the men accept their true feelings, long hidden truths come crashing down around them and threaten their fragile bond, and their very lives.
This book begins with a lengthy scene focusing solely on interaction between Dominic and Silas. This is so much more than a sex scene. It beautifully establishes the dynamic between Silas and Dom, the complexity of their relationship. We are presented with the absolute fact Silas is Dom’s intellectual equal, societal status be damned. Dom’s state of mind about his sexual needs – his need to be controlled, commanded, and powerless – is made clear. Silas’ reaction to Dom’s needs is clearly presented: he fulfills them – perhaps not without some minor qualms – but definitely without judgement. And ultimately knowing that Dom does hold all the power. I want to say right here – anyone who skips this book because they are concerned it contains “kinky” sex/bondage is going to be missing out on a love story second to none. The depth of absolute understanding, respect and trust in this story between Dominic and Silas made for one of the most absolutely stirring romance reads ever in my experience. The sex they have is quite combustible mind you, but the scenes are written clearly with purpose toward illustrating character and relationship development.
The timeline and events in this story overlap and continue those of ‘A Fashionable Indulgence’, a technique which worked in spades for me. Having loved “A Fashionable Indulgence’, I found it extremely gratifying to learn more details surrounding key events, and find out exactly what had been going on with Dom and his “Wednesday Man”. At the same time, the author manages to toss in even more titillating questions about what may be coming up in book three.
While Dom and Silas’ love story is front and center, there wouldn’t be a story without the full cast of Ricardians. Indeed all of the gentlemen proved crucial in solving the predicament Dom and Silas found themselves in. I enjoyed the generous doses of Richard, Harry, Julius and Ash. Richard’s friendship with Dom was thoroughly examined, and holds a close second for page time given, while taking nothing away from Dom’s perilous relationship with Silas. Watching the two of them – especially Richard – wrestle with understanding was torturous at times, but oh so satisfying. The expanded interplay between Cyprian, Shakespeare, and the back rooms at Quex’s contained some eye opening, crazy exposés.
This history buff was drooling over the manner in which the author utilizes the political events of the time to provide a backdrop for the story. The politics came across as a parallel figure in the narrative. Ever present, ever a catalyst, but never taking over from the characters’ personal stories. The politics of the day are both the common thread and the divide between Silas’ radical behavior and Dom’s government fealty. I love that I learned some new bits regarding 1819-1820 London, specifically The Cato Street Conspiracy. The author even had me researching Jeremy Bentham essays (a mixed blessing!).
This has become my favorite KJ Charles book to date. The multiple interpersonal dynamics flow effortlessly, purposefully, and perfectly through the mire of political posturing. I hung on every word of every conversation. The dialogue is stunning and real. The author has a gift for combining all of the above qualities amidst period authenticity – language, events, wardrobe, and locations. Add the presence of deft humor, agent provocateurs, fierce loyalty and love – and one simply cannot miss. Building to the climax of the story, so many threads were cleverly woven together, leading to an ending which felt spot on, believable, and left a huge smile on my face.
This book is a triumph of relating the human condition. KJ Charles, via a skillfully well told and entertaining story, reminds us no matter the century, what we have in common can well overcome our differences.