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Summary

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 were 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.

©2017 K. J. Charles (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
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  • BR
  • 25-02-17

K J Charles is amazing

I had a hard start with this book. I love Charm of Magpies so much that I was initially disappointed to listen to a softer, more slowly paced book. But the author's talent won me over. As is true in all her books, the characters are portrayed as complete people with flaws and issues that make them more interesting. The characters are not "perfect" as people or physically. Which is a relief from most m/m books and gives their romance through friendship and awkward flirtation more complexities than simple physical attraction. Not that there isn't sexual attraction and a tiny bit of kink, which is nicely explored. Besides the layered personalities of the main characters, KJ Charles situates them deftly in Victorian London with nice historical details. The mystery is not the strongest element of the story but it does move the story along. The narrator had a good voice and gave each character a unique voice without overdoing it. I still hold out hope that Charm of Magpies will someday get turned into an audiobook but am perfectly happy with her current work if it continues to be of this quality. And (the best compliment you can give an author) I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Meredith
  • 25-02-17

Delightful

I'm fond of adventures featuring everyday people, and this is an excellent example. I felt like I could have been one of the other residents of the boarding house or regulars at the Jack and Knave. KJ Charles' historical worldbuilding is thorough without beating you over the head with endless descriptive passages, so that you're just dropped into the rich complexity of Victorian London and allowed to live there. This is a gentler, slower story than some of her wild rides, but there's plenty of excitement, a little horror, and some truly hilarious animals.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wende
  • 23-02-17

Loved it

The narrator was very good and brought the book alive. I did have problems with Clem. He almost was TSTL. The book was enjoyable and the mystery was very well done.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Diana in SC
  • 09-08-17

Wow! A cozy romance with a dangerous mystery, too!

This is the first book by KJ Charles that I have read or listened to, and I was really impressed. I cannot wait to read the next two books in this trilogy. What a great combination! An exciting, gritty murder mystery, and a lovely gay (male-male) romance. I was enthralled the entire time by the excellent writing, wonderful characters, and an absorbing plot.

Clem and Rowlie are both good, decent guys. They respect each other and have patience and affection for each other's shortcomings. Rowlie is a taxidermist who came from a really poor background in South London. Clem is an autistic man who manages a lodging house for lower middle class artisans. He grew up in the English countryside. Clem looks like a handsome young man from India, but he was raised by his white English father. Clem's autistic characteristics include the following: an aversion to crowds and loud voices, an inability to multitask, a resistance to change, and a love of an orderly routine. I really like when romances have autistic characters, and this book handles it really well. I also loved the realistic progression of Clem and Rowlie's relationship, which is put under stress by the dangerous situation. They have disagreements that they work through.

The audiobook is wonderfully atmospheric. Dangerous men lurk in the sickly yellow fog. I discovered unusual parts of Victorian London where books have never taken me before: a taxidermist shop, a lodging house for artisans, a private social club for gay people, and a trapeze artist show.

I would say that there are several love scenes, and they are moderately steamy. Although they are somewhat graphic, the mechanics of what they do is not very adventurous or advanced as compared to other MM romances that I have read. Clem and Rowlie's first sexual encounter is so sweet and awkward; it was very charming. I felt the closeness and intimacy between Clem and Rowlie. The love scenes were very well written and added to the growing relationship in the book.

It was so sweet how the pair liked to just spend time together sitting on the couch having tea, talking, and petting the cat. I like both men a lot. Clem did occasionally get on my nerves with his denial and stubbornness about certain things that come to light.

Certain things in the plot were settled at the end of this book, but an ongoing story arc continues in Book 2 with Clem and Rowlie's investigative journalist friend as one of the main characters. I can't wait to listen to Book 2.

The narrator Matthew Lloyd Davies did such an excellent job! He is now one of my favorite narrators. Each character's voice was very distinctive, with the correct type of accent, different pitch, and the speed of speech. For example, Clem had an adorable English countryside accent, like a hobbit. I also like how the narrator seemed very comfortable with the intimate male/male love scenes. He is very good at expressing the emotions that Clem and Rowlie have for each other. In addition, his pacing was superb, especially for the action scenes. I hung on his every word, and I think he did a perfect job. Because of Mr. Davies' narration, I just had to buy the second book in this trilogy.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • HP Reader
  • 04-05-17

Well Done Historical M/M Mystery/Romance

This is the type of m/m romance I can get into. It has a plot first, with the romance supporting it. With so many cookie-cutter romance stories around, it is refreshing to find one as well done as this one. Told from the two main characters' POVs, the switching happens in chapters rather than paragraph ping-pong ball done by so many inexperienced writers.

I found the description of foggy London so well done that I could feel the grit on my own skin, as if I'd been walking through it myself. And of course, the narration by Matthew Lloyd Davies makes this story a listening treat for the ears, especially the sex scenes. And speaking of sex scenes - the slow build up makes this story extremely erotic, with just a slight dom/sub added in for spice.

Although a self-contained story, I like how it leads in to the sequel - which I have another month to wait for!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nica Flor
  • 04-07-18

Deliciously entertaining

I love historical romance, and nobody writes like KJ Charles. I especially appreciate the way the author has a person of color as a main character. Diversity and inclusion are indispensable and Clem is an adorable, engaging character for whom I cheered and hoped for throughout the book, and his Rowley is a quiet, yet loving shelter for the clumsy landlord. The mystery of the story kept me engaged and the action scenes were exciting. Not to mention the love scenes were scorching. The actor's performance was wonderful. He kept each character's voice distinctive and recognizable, and had a nice pace to the narration.

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  • Rachel ogubunka
  • 21-01-18

romance, mystery,detective fic and crime. lovely

not juat a well written tale of romance but it also has a few more genera including mystery , suspense, crime and detective fiction .

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  • rook
  • 19-12-17

Truly refreshing romance

What did you love best about An Unseen Attraction?

KJ Charles is the first historical romance author I've seen to obviously do a great deal of research into the eras of their books. Weather, environment, geography, trades, laws, scandals, current events— all taken into account. I've never read erotica about London during the industrial revolution that even mentioned industrial pollution. This London feels lived in, and the setting feels to be as much of a character as the characters themselves. ALSO gosh, it was was so refreshing to see a romance about a biracial person, let alone one presented as on the autism spectrum! In fact, this is the first romance I've ever read with a non-white protagonist, and it was so refreshing to not just see Clem (front and center on the cover!), but also to have his complicated relationship with his family and culture discussed and not be conveniently glossed over.

Which character – as performed by Matthew Lloyd Davies – was your favorite?

I adored Matthew Lloyd Davies as a narrator. This was the first book of his I've listened to and I'm excited to follow to more of his work. His character voices were all a delight and all extremely distinctive, recognizable, and added extra dimension to each character.

Any additional comments?

I've now listened to this entire series and am truly enamored with this trilogy of books. I highly recommending listening to them in sequence, as a trio. The way the three books' narratives are constructed and twine around each other is unlike any other romance series I've ever read. Enjoy!

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  • Amocca
  • 09-12-17

Lovely romance and interesting mystery

I loved this little mystery by KJ Charles.

Clem Talleyfer manages a lodgings house in Clerkenwell for his brother, among his lodgers are the quiet reserved Mr Rowley Green, a preserver of dead animals, a man Clem would very much like to share more than tea by the fire with, but also the deplorable MR Lugtrout - a retired parson with a penchant for drunkenness - who lives there rent free due to Clem's brother's kindness.

A series of odd incidents, seemingly not related at all, ends up with Mr. Lugtrout dead and his tortured body left on the doorstep of the lodgings house and Mr Green's shop broken into and set on fire.

Clem and Rowley are both quiet people and their romance is of the quiet, stumbling variety, but it is achingly sweet and lovely, even if it takes a little bit of a back seat to the mystery of the odd happenings.

The details of taxidermy was fascinating and the secondary characters interesting and obviously quite a few of them could be main characters in subsequent novels in the series. The ending was HFN - in keeping with the time the story is set in - for the couple, but the bigger story arc was left open and waiting for the next book.

Like 'Think of England' by the same author, some readers may find that the mystery part of this story overshadows the romance part, which I guess is true, but I didn't mind that one bit. The romance was sweet and steamy, the mystery was fun and engaging and as always Ms. Charles's vivid writing made the city of London such a presence as if it was almost another character in the story.

Warmly recommended.

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  • MJ
  • 03-12-17

Well written, well plotted, beautifully characterized

KJ Charles is one of my very favorite authors. This particular book is excellent. As always, her historical settings are fascinating and well researched, the characters are endearing and charming and make you root for them, and the story is engrossing. From the very beginning, I found myself falling in love with both Rowley and Clem. They are both complicated and well drawn characters whose relationship is very satisfying to watch unfold. Highly recommend.