I absolutely had to read the book in English too.
London, 1873, the Victorian era. Clem Talleyfer, thirty years old, an attractive man, half English, half Indian, runs a guesthouse in a not-so-wealthy part of London. Mainly rooms are rented for craftsmen.
The 35-year-old taxidermist Rowley Green has been staying with Clem for eight months. He does not consider himself very handsome, small and skinny as he is.
Both men indulge in a forbidden affection and love. They favour men. Punishable by up to ten years in prison if caught, as Oscar Wilde years later .
In an era of prudery, with a dedicated double standard, with an enormous amount of hypocrisy and mendacity of exquisite sophistication.
Both recognize each other and come closer, cautiously and then more and more passionately discovering their interest in each other.
Everything could be clandestine and blissful if ... if not Mr. Lugtrout, one of the tenants, named Pastor Gin, didn't keep causing disputes and trouble in the house. But Clem is forced by his brother, who owns the pension, to have to accommodate him.
Mysterious events happen. Allegedly the pastor's room was broken into. Then another break-in into Rowley's shop, which is right next door. Then the pastor disappears and reappears dead on the doorstep of the pension, tortured and brutally murdered.
Suddenly the new lovers Clem and Rowley are faced with unexpected dangers when an arson attack takes place and they float in the miasm of a fatal risk that is always vital to them. Will they be able to solve this terrible enigma and does their relationship have a future?
KJ Charles' books are always much more than crime novels. I would say they are part of historical romance, with an attached crime story.
She did a very good research, as she mentioned in the afterword, and this gives the plot an authentic note. Just how she impressively portrays the suffocating brew of the London air makes one gasp for air while reading.
She writes vividly and empathically, depicting the contrast between the noble caste and the "normal" people. Likewise the secret and discreet, wanting to live the "forbidden" love, not wanting to deny oneself happiness. Contrary to all encrusted fire-and-flame hatred spitters.
The "criminal" aspect of the story is compelling and some unexpected events occur.
Of course, the focus is on the romance that is being generated, but that's what I expect from the author.
And this is described as sensitive, warm-hearted, loving and tender. I don't understand why there are people who are bothered by the erotic aspects. These are by no means pornographic ( there is far more explicit literature. And what do some people understand by pornography? ), but described in a bewitching, hot, sexy and very appealing way. Not an end in itself, but always meaningful in context.
I love Clem and Rowley. They are a dream couple and, in their enchanting way, charmingly extraordinary. In general, I'm really addicted to the author's books. A story that puts me in the flow and that is great.