In the first novel of an explosive new series from K. J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.
When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.
After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.
The beginning was tentative, but as is typical of a K.J. Charles novel, the story picked up, and I was mesmerized.
This book has it all: ballroom politics, bedroom antics, and societal intrigue.
The flame between the flashy, sarcastic Julian and the fledgling-radical-turned-heir Harry cannot be suppressed.
Julian is "made of moonlight." His dry sense of humour had me in tears:
"[Your style is excellent] ... for a large and sober man of forty."
"Thirty-six," Lord Richard said.
"Really? I would have said older, but I dare say you know best ...."
Harry is lost. He's been dragged along and done without for so long, he'd do anything to belong. But as a good friend tells him:
"If you can't be happy, then be something else. Be useful, that would be good. Decorative, if you like. Selfish, if you must. Just don't whine about it."
The writing is sharp and witty, but I expect nothing less from this author.
I enjoyed the complex secondary characters, particularly Harry's cousin Verona, a woman who knows what she wants and will push to get it. Hurrah for a strong female character!
The relationship between the MCs changes and evolves. They move from mentor/student to a grudging friendship to lovers.
Julian teaches Harry London manners, how to dress, how to speak ... how to pretend.
Harry teaches Julian, who's living in a prolonged state of grief and guilt, to kiss ... and to give.
The sexy scenes are contained, but they are gorgeous and true.
"You've needed a good hard fuck as long as I've known you. Untouchable Julius," [Harry's] tongue flicked out, over Julius' parted lips. "Why hasn't anyone given you a ride before now?"
"Nobody was sufficiently insolent," Julius managed.
I, for one, am already a devoted fan of this series.
I want to read more about the ever proper Richard, whose feathers most definitely need to be ruffled, and perhaps Dominic, who needs to be gripped and whipped.
So many delicious possibilities, so little time.