ARC Review: An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles

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An Unsuitable Heir, the final novel in K.J. Charles’ Sins of the Cities series, was a sensational, unputdownable conclusion, filled to the brim with murder, scandal, sexual tension, and two unconventional men finding love and acceptance in 19th century Britain.

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A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.
On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.
Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.
But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.

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It is easy for me to say that An Unsuitable Heir is my favourite K.J. Charles novel. The stunning conclusion was everything I wanted in the novel and more, and I closed the book with a massive smile on my face. Charles has outdone herself in weaving together three different couples and story arcs, all converging on An Unsuitable Heir, resolving the clandestine plot that has been simmering since the first book, and concluding the journeys for our favourite characters.

The main characters in this novel, Pen and Mark, are wonderfully complex characters that the reader will quickly fall for. Charles has raised the bar for all other historical and m/m authors out there with the characterisation of Pen, a gender fluid character! I can’t tell you how exciting it is to read an historical novel where the characters weren’t straight, white, and/or wealthy. Charles has proven that there is not only a demand for characters like Pen, but that all manner of lgbtqiap+ people DID, in fact, exist throughout history, and it is wrong to try to erase them from narratives – as so often happens, especially in Romance.

Pen is gender fluid – some days he feels comfortable in his male body, and other days he doesn’t, and Charles expertly handles Pen’s feelings over his identity, without being disrespectful. Although he knows who he is inside, Pen struggles to get close to anyone, aside from his twin sister, because he cannot come to terms with his identity. That is until he meets Mark, the man who has been searching for him for weeks, and who is also pansexual.

Reading a pansexual character almost brought tears to my eyes, because it is such a rarity to read about someone you can relate to. Mark is the most compassionate, understanding character I have ever come across, not just in Romance, but in all literature. He constantly asks Pen where he would like to be touched, whether there is a pronoun that Pen prefers (he/him), or which identity he responded to each day. Mark was born with one forearm missing, and is considered by the general society as to be disabled, but Mark proves all of them wrong time and time again, and like Pen, slowly learns to let someone in and see the real him.

The plot is simply ingenious. Reading this novel, I was practically perched on the edge of my seat, desperately trying to figure out how Charles would tie up all the loose ends, and still give us a happily ever after. As usual, Charles does not disappoint and wraps up the mystery in such a way that the reader will never be able to guess. But the conclusion of the novel is by far the best part of the entire series, which I know will stay with me for a long time.

An Unsuitable Heir is one of K.J. Charles’ best novels and I am making it my life’s mission to ensure as many people read this amazing series as possible. Pen and Mark are remarkable characters who are unapologetically themselves. Their dynamic is loving and healthy, and the respect they show one another is incredibly touching. I can’t recommend this book enough, but do yourselves a big favour, and read the other books in the glorious series, Sins of the Cities. 

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5 stars
An Unsuitable Heir is set for publication on October 3, 2017. Preorder the novel here.

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles

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