Author: K.J. Charles
Publisher: KJC Books
Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Sir Philip Rookwood is the disgrace of the county. He’s a rake and an atheist, and the rumours about his hellfire club, the Murder, can only be spoken in whispers. (Orgies. It’s orgies.)
Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in rural seclusion after a family scandal. But when Amanda breaks her leg in a riding accident, she’s forced to recuperate at Rookwood Hall, where Sir Philip is hosting the Murder.
Guy rushes to protect her, but the Murder aren’t what he expects. They’re educated, fascinating people, and the notorious Sir Philip turns out to be charming, kind—and dangerously attractive.
In this private space where anything goes, the longings Guy has stifled all his life are impossible to resist…and so is Philip. But all too soon the rural rumour mill threatens both Guy and Amanda. The innocent country gentleman has lost his heart to the bastard baronet—but does he dare lose his reputation too?
Review: This historical hooked me on the first page and kept me thoroughly engaged through the last one. It contains classic Regency elements, something at which author Charles definitely excels. Present are: the much gossiped about yet tender-hearted rake, a strong-minded sister, the inexperienced young man who falls for the “forbidden fruit”, staunch friends, and of course, money-hoarding relatives.
The story plays out in a fun manner, I liked the saucy undertone. Unlike many of Charles’s works, this one doesn’t delve into mystery or deep political issues– aside from the obvious – a point I actually found refreshing. It revolves around Guy, an inexperienced young man, discovering a world outside of the constrained one he has known. In learning truths and learning to trust others via his own dealings with them, Guy also learns about his true self. He learns to love life. Much of Guy’s awakening is due directly to Sir Philip Rookwood, the primary rake of the story who turns out to possess much more depth than Guy expects. Incidents from the past involving both men are explored and woven into the plot seamlessly and with just the right impact.
Guy struck me as uptight and a bit prickly at first, especially toward Rookwood, although in his mind he had good reason to be. I liked Guy immensely, and completely enjoyed having a front seat to witness his most satisfying erotic awakening. Rookwood, in Guy’s mind, was a depraved individual. The reader is able to glean early on that Rookwood was not wholly deserving of such a label but is, in fact, quite a lovely man. So Rookwood was solid with me from the start! Guy’s sister, Amanda, is a wonderfully creative and smart individual who is keen on challenging the confines of society as well as their aunt’s control. She provided support to Guy in an utterly plausible sense. Of huge importance in the whole scheme of things are the men who make up the Murder. This eclectic group of similarly inclined men enjoy a safe place at Rookwood’s manor home as well as in one another’s hearts. The dynamic here was every bit as enjoyable as the primary romance, and their social and ethnic diversity is presented as something celebrated, definitely not a mix the ton would approve of!
I love reading about personal growth, about the evolution of relationships. This book has that in spades, plus lush sensuality and sweetness. There is the seductive dance and romance between Guy and Rookwood, there is the influence of Amanda, but equally important and fascinating was the time-tested respect and love of the Murder. Charles’s capacity for writing engrossing characters, locales, and relationships shines. I did not miss the deep political intrigue or body count present in so many of her stories. I’m also wondering who among the Murder may be getting their story told next!