Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Rating: 5 Stars
Blurb: Lie back and think of England…
England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.
Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.
As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.
As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before…
Warning: Contains explicit male/male encounters, ghastly historical attitudes, and some extremely stiff upper lips.
Review: I’ll be perfectly honest, I was a little scared to dive into this book, not because I was afraid that KJ Charles had suddenly become less than the great wordsmith I’ve come to expect but because I’ve never read anything by this author that didn’t have a wildly original paranormal twist. Where in the world would I get my adrenaline fix from if there weren’t macabre and malevolent foes to outrun? Of course, now I can laugh at my own stupidity because while Think of England is certainly different, the author has not only managed to deliver another winning historical novel but has also managed to deliver all the suspense and danger I’ve come to expect from her books, though with a human rather than supernatural element of intrigue.
Archie Curtis and Daniel da Silva are perfect foils, and I love the way KJ Charles led me into their introduction. I went back and read the blurb again at one point because I was certain I had the love interest wrong, there was that much friction between them, but as the story unfolded along with the details of a heinous betrayal, so did Archie and Daniel’s relationship. By the climax of the story, I was still a little uncertain whether these two men were going to be able to hang on to the tenuous bond they’d formed at the height of a situation that could very well have meant their attraction was more circumstance than substance, but the author skillfully delivers the story’s end with the usual flair I’ve come to expect, and the promise that there’s much more to come from these characters.
For a lover of historical romance, there’s nothing much more disappointing than dialogue or cadence of speech that feels too contemporary and out of place for the time period in which a story is set, but every single thing about this book felt pitch perfect. From the setting and the prose, which complemented each other perfectly, to the treason that caused Archie’s handicap and the way in which the search for clues to bring the traitors to justice unfolded, the author drew me in from start to finish.
Unlike so many literary heroes who’re scarred and disfigured, Archie’s physical limitations are never abused or used as a simple device to gain sympathy for him. Rather, Archie’s strength and courage in spite of what he’s had to overcome made him the perfect partner for Daniel, who has his own internal scars. These men see beyond each other’s pain, and it was that final layer built into their relationship that sealed my love for them and this book. Archie’s transformation is wonderful, Daniel’s façade which masks a toughened yet vulnerable heart is perfection, and it’s all wrapped up in a story that’s serious without taking itself too seriously.
If you’ve never read KJ Charles because you’re not a particular fan of speculative fiction but are a fan of fast paced and well written historical romance, I can’t recommend Think of England enough.
You can buy Think of England here: