In anticipation of the October 3rd release of KJ Charles’ An Unsuitable Heir, book three in the Sins of the Cities series from Loveswept, we’re so pleased to share this Exclusive Excerpt from the book with you. Enjoy!
About the Book
Title: An Unsuitable Heir
Series: Sins of the Cities: Book Three
Book One: An Unseen Attraction || Book Two: An Unnatural Vice
Category: Historical Romance
Length: 246 Pages
Blurb: 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.
“Pen, was that?” Mark asked. “Is that Quaker, or is it short for something?”
“It’s just my name.”
“Fair enough.” Mark brought his glass to his mouth, barely moistening his lips for all he’d said he needed a drink. “So what do you do, Pen?”
It was an approach. Pen was sure of it, alarm and excitement warring in his mind.
This was always such a guessing game, and he knew himself hard to guess. People tended either to see the long hair and the way he often dressed and decide he was womanish, or to see the broad shoulders and bulging biceps and conclude he was a fine strong man. They were all wrong, and he was so tired of trying to explain why.
Mark had perceptive eyes and they were taking Pen in at their leisure. He almost wished he was wearing eye paint; he very much wished that they’d met in one of the places you could wear it without fear.
Mark cocked a brow, and Pen realised he hadn’t answered the question. “Oh. I’m an acrobat.”
“Acrobat? What, like in the circus?”
“Music hall, yes. Trapeze.”
“Swinging off ropes?”
“And jumping between them. A double flying trapeze act.”
“Blimey.” Mark seemed surprised and impressed. “Double. Does that mean you do it with someone else?”
Pen said yes, he worked with his sister, and found himself answering the next question, and the next, and quite a few more beyond that—Were you brought up in the circus, then? What’s that accent? He didn’t get the impression Mark was asking for any more reason than interest, and to keep the conversation going into another glass of gin, and all the time Mark’s eyes were on him, examining his features, taking note. He wanted to untie his hair and let it hang loose over his shoulders, to see how Mark reacted, and had to remind himself that the Kitchen wasn’t a place for that.
“So would I be able to see you on the trapeze?” Mark asked.
“As soon as the fog clears, yes. The Grand Cirque.”
“Holborn, right? I know it.”
“That’s where we perform, exclusively. The Flying Starlings. My sister’s working on our costumes now.” While he sat in the Gin Kitchen chatting up an attractive man, but he’d waited at home for her often enough, and she had, after all, told him to find something to do.
“Costumes. Like, those things you see on the posters?” Mark’s eyes seemed somewhat darker. “They look pretty tight.”
“Very close-fitting,” Pen agreed, rather breathlessly. “Clinging to the skin.”
“Right.” Mark swirled the gin in his tumbler, not looking away from Pen’s face. “Here’s a funny thing, my mate went to see the Flying Starlings, and I could swear he said it was two women . . . ?”
His tone wasn’t aggressive or accusatory. More, it wasn’t demanding a denial. It was a question, a trail of interest that lit Pen’s nerves up like a match to powder.
“We costume differently,” he said. “Depending on the act. You know how music hall is.” Male impersonators, female impersonators; sometimes it seemed half the people on the stage were dressed against what their bodies dictated.
“So is that why the long hair?”
“Mmm,” Pen said, because it wasn’t, not entirely.
“It looks good.”
Pen couldn’t quite believe he’d heard that. Mark had said it quietly, but he’d definitely said it and his gaze was intent on Pen’s face and oh, God. “Thank you. A lot of people think it’s odd.”
“Well, a lot of people are arseholes.” Mark made that remark in a goes-without-saying tone; Pen spluttered amusement. “It suits you. What’s it look like loose?”
Pen wasn’t sure how to answer that. “It’s a lot of hair. It’s, uh . . . sometimes my sister braids it, or puts it up. For performance.”
“Yeah?” Mark’s lips curled in an almost savage grin. “I’d like to see that.”
About the Author
KJ Charles spent twenty years working as an editor before switching sides to become a full-time writer. She hasn’t regretted it yet. KJ writes mostly queer historical romance, some of it paranormal or fantasy. She lives in London with her husband, two children, and a cat of absolute night.