When crusading lawyer Vikram Pandey sets out in search of a missing youth, his investigations take him to Holywell Street, London’s most notorious address. He expects to find a disgraceful array of sordid bookshops. He doesn’t expect one of them to be run by the long-lost friend whose disappearance and presumed death he’s been mourning for thirteen years.
Gil Lawless became a Holywell Street bookseller for his own reasons, and he’s damned if he’s going to apologise or listen to moralising from anyone. Not even Vikram; not even if the once-beloved boy has grown into a man who makes his mouth water.
Now the upright lawyer and the illicit bookseller need to work together to track down the missing youth. And on the way, they may even learn if there’s more than just memory and old affection binding them together…
“What you get round here, under the counter as it were, is literature tending to deprave or corrupt. Obscene publications. Books mostly, but also photographs. Anything that’s unfit to print.”
Thank you very much to KJ Charles for providing an e-copy of her novel.
I didn’t realise how much I needed a romance novella about Victorian pornography until I was reading one.
Unfit to Print, KJ Charles’ newest novella, features a crusading Indian lawyer, fighting for the rights of Indian people who were taken advantage of by the British; and a nonchalant pornographic bookseller, who, after being abandoned by his family in his teens, doesn’t allow himself to get close to anyone anymore.
My only complaint about this novella is that I wish it were longer! I kid, everything was wonderful, primarily the loveable characters, Vikram and Gil. Gil, the half-Black illegitimate son of an aristocrat, is one of those characters who is hard on the outside, but tender on the inside. I know I made it sound like he’s a biscuit or something, but what I meant to say is that he’s actually a soft cinnamon roll who hardens and protects himself from being disappointed by people because of what his family put him through. He’s self-serving — at least he tries to come across that way — but he still has a soft spot for Vikram.
Vikram is uptight and very ethical, living his life to the rigid structures of what he believes is morally right and wrong. Vikram’s life is focused solely on his work – he represses all feeling, and doesn’t have any friends. And Reader, I just wanted to hug him. Vikram had lived quite a privileged life – in that he grew up wealthy (he’s distantly related to Indian princes!) and has never had to worry about finding a meal – although he has struggled throughout his life due to the colour of his skin. Then, during an investigation, Vikram finds Gil, his former best friend and someone Vikram had thought was dead for thirteen years.
“You’ve really got a problem with the pictures?”
“Of course I do,” Vikram snapped. “They’re illegal, immoral, and obscene.”
“Right, but what’s bad about them?”
The setting of Unfit to Print is so interesting! For someone who is as obsessed with British history as I am, I can’t believe I’ve never thought about the seedy underbelly of English life before: the myriad of streets and businesses dedicated to disreputable things. I’m talking about porn, friends! Gil is a purveyor of erotic novels: he both sells and writes pornographic novels, and sometimes he even sells photographs. These smutty books and photos don’t discriminate, either: they feature people of all sexual orientations and races. Surprisingly diverse, but then again, Victorian England was incredibly diverse … although only a few Romance writers ever portray history as such. (I digress.)
Unfit to Print is written beautifully – there was just enough historical English phrases to place this book in the Victorian age, while catering to its modern reader. Which is something KJ does — and has always done — so well. The plot was perfectly paced: we have the issue of the missing boy mixed in with the pleasurable suspense of Gil and Vikram finding each other again, and learning about their personal history. It’s a fun and entertaining ride that you just can’t miss out on!
If you’re looking for a diverse Romance read, with incredible characters and a moving romance, then look no further than Unfit to Print! Available July 10!