Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment
Review: KJ Charles has a way of sucking a reader right in with her witty dialogue, exquisite representation of time and place, remarkable characters, and her overall engaging writing. This certainly happened to me with this story in which 1805 London comes in loud and clear during the rollicking escapades of Theo and Martin.
Theo runs a lonely hearts/matchmaking column of sorts, of which many of the participants have dubious intent. Theo is merely the delivery agent, doing what he can to eke out a living in between doing what he truly loves; writing somewhat successful gothic romances under a female pen name. He lives in his office, sleeps on his couch, and has permanently ink stained hands. He was a child of the streets and has a smart mouth to go along with his intelligent mind.
Composed and imposing Martin appears at Theo’s office one day looking for information regarding some correspondence in Theo’s column. He is of African descent, and while now a free man, Martin is attempting to help his former owners with an issue concerning their capricious daughter, Jennifer. Martin had always been especially fond of the girl. Theo, while naturally cautious, is immediately struck by Martin’s impressive physique, polished demeanor, and ability to pay for his services.
Theo barters a deal to assist Martin in keeping Jennifer from eloping with a money grubbing rake – admitting to himself that it is as much about getting to better know the intriguing man as it is about coin. Martin soon discovers that while Theo is thorny and sharp tongued, he is also treating Martin as an equal and finds it contemptable when others do not. Martin is appreciative of this, and it ups his opinion of Theo very much. He is also soon wondering – and discovering – what other skills Theo may demonstrate with his tongue.
To Theo’s amusement, as the men embark across England to attempt to talk sense to Jennifer, their predicament seems to resemble a plot in one of his novels. Not necessarily with romance, but with entertaining hijinks and, well, hot sex. Theo puts his scheming mind to the test, trying to figure out the next move of Jennifer and her paramour so they may catch up with them before it’s too late.
This story is written in third person, so that we get both Theo and Martin’s thoughts. But not so fast, nearly two thirds of the way into the story, there is a big upset in Theo’s perceived intentions. I was floored – but I loved the twist. Martin did not. The author is uncompromising in not giving the pair an easy time on the way to an eventual HFN, Theo is miserable. Martin is furious, then somewhat sheepish. The manner in which they eventually come to terms absolutely utilizes a main component of the story to perfection.
Theo and Martin were immediately likeable to me. There is raucous one liners and deft bantering between the two men, often laced with brilliant double entendre. I absolutely love how KJ Charles weaves people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, social standing, etc. into her stories in such an exquisite, clever manner. Social mores are explored as a natural, inevitable component of this story, with no heavy handedness or preachy intention. In this story she shows us in 1805 London it was possible for a black man to be higher stationed – better clothes, connections, wealth – than a white man. Something I’m assuming some people would have not have thought possible. I never fail to learn something about the time period which this author’s stories are set in, which is as fun in its own right as is the story itself.
Kudos to the gorgeous cover design and layout of this book!