KJ Charles returns us to Victorian London for the second book in this trilogy about the search for a deceased earl’s missing heir, and once again we aren’t spared the less pleasant aspects of city life in the latter part of the nineteenth century. For one thing, the fog is practically a character in its own right, presenting obstacles and distractions for our heroes as they fight their way through it to avoid enemies and solve more pieces of the overarching puzzle. But what of our heroes? This time around we’re presented with a very different pair from the two main protagonists of the first book.
Justin Lazarus was raised from the depth of poverty by a fake medium, who took him in, educated him, and trained him to take over the business of conducting highly staged séances with the aim of defrauding the rich and recently bereaved. Although unscrupulous in his business dealings, Justin cares deeply for the children he has taken in and is now training up to work for him – and in some cases to eventually set up as mediums in their own right. By contrast, Nathaniel Roy was born into wealth and is on a mission to unmask fraudsters like Justin who prey on the vulnerable. Just like Justin, though, Nathaniel is a mix of contrasts: an Archbishop’s son, who is now an atheist, trained as a lawyer but now working as a journalist, and the possessor of a large house in the country who prefers to live and work in London. Nathaniel is still in mourning for his lover who died some years earlier, and this makes his attempt to reveal Justin’s con particularly poignant, when Justin uses the name of Nathaniel’s dead lover as part of his deception.
Following this less than auspicious beginning, however, the two find themselves embroiled in the same mystery. Nathaniel has been helping his friends search for missing twins: the new earl and his sister, and Justin was visited by the twin’s mother some time earlier. She left him with a clue to their identity as security against money she owed for his services, but never returned. When other, less benevolent individuals, who are also looking for the twins, turn their attentions towards Justin, Nathaniel feels obliged to step in and help – especially since the evidence in Justin’s possession may be of great help with his friends’ investigations. Soon, however, Justin is being pursued by people who will stop at nothing to prevent him revealing what he knows.
I enjoyed this book, but it suffered very much from being the middle part of a trilogy. The latest big reveal for the main series arc leaves us more with questions than answers, and the book’s conclusion in terms of its own plot is overshadowed by the lead-in to the final book of the series. Those niggles not withstanding, I once again enjoyed meeting all the individuals in this book – even the most minor of characters has their own personality, aims and agency, and I greatly hope we get to meet many of them again in the next book, where the series will conclude and presumably all loose ends will be tied up.
In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.
Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.
Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.
But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.
No excerpt available.