AN UNSUITABLE HEIR (Sins of the Cities #3) by KJ Charles-a review
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 3, 2017
A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.
On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.
Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.
But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends
REVIEW: AN UNSUITABLE HEIR is the third and final installment in KJ Charles’ Victorian England, adult SIN OF THE CITIES M/M romance, mystery trilogy. This is private investigator Mark Braglewicz, and trapeze artist and reluctant earl Repentance ‘Pen’ Starling’s story line. AN UNSUITABLE HEIR can be read as a stand alone but for cohesion and backstory I recommend reading the series in order as there is an ongoing premise and plot throughout the series focusing on the search for the heir to the Earl of Moreton’s estate.
NOTE: AN UNSUITABLE HEIR and the SINS OF THE CITIES series contain scenes of M/M sexual situations and may not be suitable for all readers.
SOME BACKGROUND: Twenty three years earlier, sixteen year old and pregnant Emmeline Godfrey Taillefer’s life fell apart when the man that she married walked away without a backwards glance. Fast forward and the son to whom she gave birth is said to be the legitimate heir to the Earl of Moreton-a position coveted by more than one surviving relation.
Told from dual third person perspectives (Pen and Mark) AN UNSUITABLE HEIR focuses on the search for the truth as a group of friends endeavors to find the missing heir to the Taillefer fortune and title holder to the Earl of Moreton. Mark Braglewicz has been commissioned to locate a young man known a Pen Starling-one half of the Flying Starling trapeze artists, and the man who is quite possibly the missing heir to the Moreton estates. Enter Repentance Taillefer aka Pen Starling, a man whose lifestyle will never be conducive as the Earl of Moreton, and the man with whom Mark Braglewicz will fall in love. With a killer on the loose, searching for the missing Taillefer twins, Mark struggles to convince Pen and his sister Greta (Regret) that Pen’s life hangs in the balance as a killer sets his sights on the Moreton heir.
Pen Starling is an anomaly – a bi-gendered man living in Victoria England; a flamboyant trapeze artist whose ‘professional persona’ crosses over into his daily life including an attraction to men that must be hidden in light of the times. Pen’s ‘gender fluidity’ is expressed by the way he presents himself as a girl or a boy (woman or man) depending upon his current state of mind or emotions. Mark Braglewicz, a private investigator is a bisexual man (with a missing left arm) whose captivation with Pen is palpable and intense.
The relationship between Pen and Mark is one of mutual fascination; a forbidden romance between two men who must remain closeted at a time when homosexuality is criminal and a sin. Mark’s ongoing need to convince Pen to acknowledge his rightful title builds a wall between our leading couple, a wall that will harden the heart of Pen Starling as betrayal and lies force Pen to face the truth about the man with whom he is falling in love. Pen is a reluctant heir knowing his personal lifestyle will become fodder for the people in charge-his fears are legitimate and painful. The $ex scenes are intimate without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.
The world building continues to focus on the hunt for a killer; the search for the missing Moreton heirs; and the developing friendships and relationships between a group of gay men in Victorian England. All of the previous story line couples and characters play secondary and supporting roles. Once again, the tone of the story is not conducive to the era or the time-I was expecting a tighter interpretation of the language e.g. euphemisms, slang, sentence structure, and because of this, the story line reads more modern than historic (see my review of books one and two). The premise is entertaining and enlightening; the characters are colorful but flawed; the romance is seductive and intense.
I would like to add that political correctness did not exist in Victorian England, and to apply modern standards to an historical romance novel would alter the perceptive believability of the era. Some readers may take offense to the ‘presentation’ of Pen’s sexuality or Mark’s physical disability but for readers to apply contemporary criteria, standards, measurements or guidelines to this series and story line would be a grievous error that should be avoided.
Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley
Reviewed by Sandy