What a delightful way to end the year. I always like K.J. Charles’s books, but this one just pushed every single one of my buttons. It’s an homage to Georgette Heyer, and a romance, but I’ve not read anything quite like it before.
Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda are secluded from society in their quiet country home. An old scandal involving their mother and their neighbor besmirched their names and ruined Amanda’s prospects, and Guy now prefers to shrink quietly into the shadows of invisibility and propriety, meekly accepting whatever handouts their relatives give them in order to survive. But his sister, who has just anonymously penned a newly published Gothic novel inspired by those very same neighbors, is severely injured while trespassing on that neighbor’s property, and forced to convalesce in that house of ill repute.
Sir Philip Rookwood and his set, the Murder, are rumored to belong to a Hellfire Club, surely during which time orgies and devil worship of all kind is practiced. No lady will set foot in the house for fear of her own reputation, even to attend the gravely ill Amanda, so devoted Guy has no choice but to remain there for his sister’s protection.
What follows is a delightful surrendering of Guy’s innocence, and what replaces it is appreciation of human difference, human kindness, and the pursuit of knowledge. Two weeks in a house full of reprobates — many of who claim to be atheists! Guy has never before met an atheist, or a Jew, or a black man — and Guy’s entire world has been thoroughly turned upside down. Imagine a place where a religious man such as himself can converse with people who think and believe differently than he does. And he can’t at first.
I can’t remember the last time a romance or historical novel so filled me with glee. Charles also seems to have a lot of fun thumbing her nose at basically everyone. Highly recommend this one, especially as a starting point into Charles’s work