Y: While the first half of the novel was fun to get introduced to the characters and the world, I think I preferred this half of the novel because Curtis and da Silva really seem to come into their own. It feels less like I’m reading about Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane and more like, hey, there’s Curtis and da Silva! Hope they get to cuddle! You know? Also, remember those ladies that Curtis made snap judgements about? Oh, yeah, they are kick-ass and Curtis owes them so much.
E: I love the lady characters SO MUCH. I really want to read a book about them, actually - I’m going to have to look up and see if she wrote a book about them (it seems doubtful, but a girl can dream). Otherwise Curtis and da Silva progress in a fairly expected way - Curtis has a lot of self-reflection, da Silva becomes more open to intimacy so good things happen. But really, the lady characters are THE BEST (Other than da Silva, of course).
Y: I also think Curtis develops in some interesting ways over the novel. As someone who is the closet without really knowing that he is in the closet, Curtis sort of fumbles his way through his relationship (if it can be called that) with da Silva. Just as you can display racial prejudice while being a person of colour, I suppose one could be gay and still have to fight years of heteronormative biases. I think we get to see Curtis grow on that front and I appreciate that. Much of these developments (and shortcomings) are revealed during romantic interludes with da Silva and we get to see how their relationship grows (or suffers) as a direct result. I still can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing.
E: The first half of the second half (I feel like there must be some way to phrase this better) is where the relationship really shines for me. Da Silva is at his most vulnerable, Curtis gets to be strong and protective, and it becomes significantly more about physical attraction at this point, which is what I had really been waiting for. There’s cuddling and cute moments and it’s perfection. The epilogue kind of lost me a bit - that last encounter reminded me too much of all the things I hadn’t liked about the second encounter, and it kind of felt like the character development regressed because of that, despite all the progress Curtis has made in self awareness.
PLOT & MISC.
Y: The ending is ridiculous. So. Very. Ridiculous. Like, Quentin Tarantino would have shook his head and gone, maybe that was a bit much? But I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes and giggling, so obviously I didn’t hate it. I just wanted Curtis and da Silva to be okay. TBH, I wouldn’t even have minded if a giant unicorn had come trampling through the fields and crushed their enemies. So, plot-wise, don’t expect anything mind-blowing, but do be prepared to laugh at the ridiculous.
E: Yeahhhh...so if I had plausibility issues with the set up this ending is beyond ridiculous hahahahaha. I mean it’s fun I guess? A bit bloodthirsty for my taste in historical romance, but to each her own I suppose. Basically at this point I was just so happy da Silva and Curtis got all their cuteness in that I was ready for the main plot-line to be over.
WHY YOU MAY LIKE IT
Y: So much representation--and most of it done well, I feel--we have a closeted, disabled Englishman protagonist and his romantic interest is an openly gay, Jewish man from Spain. We also have a minor mention of ladies who are quite possibly a couple. It is hilarious and so full of innuendo--I laugh for five straight minutes at the mention of “buttering a roll with great care”--and it is set in the Edwardian era, which, I mean, maybe you want some historical fiction set in England that isn’t all white and all straight? I know I do. And, while this is marked as the first book in a series, I think the ending was pretty conclusive and doesn’t leave any loose threads.
E: This is more or less exactly what I’ve been looking for in my historical romances lately: non-white or gay characters (this is my first non-hetero relationship for historical romance actually). And I have to say, as far as first books in that category go, I would recommend it. (Also if you are looking for non-white, might I recommend Beverly Jenkins). I would say this is for people who like: Edwardian era romance, alpha male and/or snarky male pairings, non-white, and/or disabled characters.
WHY YOU MAY NOT LIKE IT
Y: My biggest issue with the book was the epilogue. I suppose Curtis kissing da Silva is meant to be passionate, but it mostly read like assault. Granted, da Silva reciprocates enthusiastically almost immediately, but it is an uncomfortable way to properly begin their relationship. It is also very uncomfortable to read. (Maybe da Silva feels he doesn’t have a choice? Maybe he would regret it after? I mean, obviously, they are Meant To Be in this book, but IRL reciprocation doesn’t always mean yes. Especially if you are holding them down.) I hope K. J. Charles does better in terms of consent and passion in the next one.
E: I have similar qualms - a few of the scenes were too much like assault and it made me a bit uncomfortable. Particularly the epilogue because he’s inserting himself into da Silva’s life in every aspect. I also think you can’t be a stickler for details - plot-wise you definitely need some suspension of belief. Overall, though, I was pretty pleased with this book and would definitely try another book by K.J. Charles (particularly if they are about aforementioned two ladies!)