Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
[xrr rating= 4.5/5]
WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated
the grand romance of
Mr. Martin St. Vincent … a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann … a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love
Act the First:
the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling
Act the Second:
a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)
a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber
In the course of which are presented
Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires
the particulars of which are too numerous to impart
Well, first of all, I love the highly creative blurb. Second, I love the gorgeous cover. Third, I love the author (who doesn’t?). Fourth, this book is a standalone. And fifth, with all that going for it, I’m excited to say…I loved this story!
Theo Swann writes a lonely hearts column, for lack of a better term. Actually it’s a very old-fashioned precursor to web dating sites—a flyer in which people seeking people for the purpose of marriage, at least ostensibly, advertise for a fee. He also has a side job that earns him a small sum—he’s a romance novel writer named Dorothea Swann. With all that work, one would think he’d be a man of means, but Theo lives hand to mouth, and in fact, he lives in his office. He’s been indebted to a cousin for over twelve years, and in all that time, the high interest rate he’s charged assures he’ll never be able to repay the original amount. He admits it’s his own fault for being young and foolish and gambling away the funds he had available at the time.
Enter Martin St. Vincent (featured on the cover), a wealthy business owner, who gives tall, dark, and handsome new meaning to Theo. But he also gives brooding, demanding, and masterful a new meaning as well. Seeking information on a correspondence that’s been going back and forth between two lovers for quite some time, he finally reveals that he must find the female for his friend and former master, and he must stop her from making the mistake of her life with the, probably, underhanded man who is likely wooing her for her money alone. Agreeing to help Martin, Theo and he discover that it may already be too late—the lovers may have met and left to elope at Gretna Green.
On the promise of forty pounds payment, Theo agrees to accompany Martin on the chase. But all is not as it seems, and along the way Theo and Martin discover more than the girl and her lover. They discover, and eventually act on a mutual attraction. Unfortunately, all the circumstances surrounding the girl’s escapades come to a head, and Theo is literally left with mud on his face and no more hopes for a brighter future.
Of course the story doesn’t end that way, and my simplistic summary of the early events is just that. KJ Charles takes words and builds worlds. The highly talented author always pens interesting and endearing characters and exciting situations, generally set in past times in London or the English countryside, or both. Within the first few pages, I find myself engaged and smiling (or sometimes crying if the story warrants it). Each page reveals a new facet of a character’s personality or a story’s subtle plot twists. And this story is no different. I was hooked within the first few pages.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this story to all lovers of historical adventure and MM romance. It’s the perfect mix of both. And yes, there’s a HEA in Theo’s future.