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.
I got a copy of this book from the author, because she is great. As at the time I wasn’t sure if I was reviewing or not, I found that very generous.
A Fashionable Indulgence is a classic case of right book, right time, because I actually read it twice. The first time I was so fixated on the detail in the clothing, and some of the customs that I couldn’t actually see anything else, it was just before I went on holiday. I was quite tense. The second time was just after I came back from holiday, a little more relaxed and what a different experience.
KJ Charles is a clever writer, initially I felt that this was a homage to the Heyer school of historical novel, the language and the setting, and the very ordered and formal descriptions of clothing and situations. Plus there is quite a large cast of characters to contend with, almost from the off. Then I started noticing political parallels, with the treatment of the poor, the resistance to the government, and the sedition. And that really sucked me in. I think that the best and most memorable romance books have more than just a relationship in them. They can, and should make you think.
The main characters Harry and Julius are such good counterpoints to each other, physically dark and light and emotionally light and dark. Harry is a very open, heart on his sleeve character, and it appears that the job of Julius is to tamp that enthusiasm down, so that Harry becomes a Gentleman. Yet as Harry becomes more a part of Society, he looses that spark that makes him unique and there is this glorious internal conflict, mirrored in the defrosting of Julius, the balance between these two is excellent.
Harry should be, if this were even vaguely traditional, the innocent virgin, and Julius the man of the world, but this is KJC and nothing is that straightforward. There are many writers who would simply swap the characteristics over, but not here. Harry IS more sexually experienced than Julius, but the balance is the Julius understands society, in many ways Julius is the more innocent.
There is also a rather wonderful Sleeping Beauty feel about A Fashionable Indulgence, and for me quite a literal feel.
I found A Fashionable Indulgence so multi layered, a great read.
You can buy a copy here.