Title: Wanted, a Gentleman
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 157 Pages
At a Glance: While the story was solid in the vernacular and style, the plot felt incomplete and lacking in real depth.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: 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
Review: Undoubtedly the queen of historical fiction, author KJ Charles delivers another authentic period piece in her latest release, Wanted, a Gentleman. While this novel had definite romantic elements, I felt it leaned toward more of an adventure story with a rather hastily drawn love element thrown in for good measure. In many ways the plot felt thin to me, with characters that begged to be developed further, particularly because both Theo and Martin carried a great deal of emotional baggage from their pasts. However, as historical fiction goes, this author does not fail to deliver authenticity both in dialogue and story dressing.
Martin is a former slave of the Conroy family. Virtually growing up with their only daughter, it is he who is called upon to help rescue her after she elopes with a man who is only known by the name he uses in their correspondence, Troilus. Theo is the proprietor and crafter of the want ads that lonely-hearts place when they are seeking wives and husbands. It is through his weekly want ads that Miss Conroy (aka Cressida) meets her Troilus, and the two plan their elopement. Martin bribes Theo to accompany him in the pursuit of the fleeing couple in the hopes that he can stop them before they are married, and convince Miss Conroy to return home with him to her waiting parents.
But all is not what it seem and Theo hides many secrets, including the knowledge that not only does he know who Troilus is but has actually been coerced into helping the man carry away the unsuspecting girl. During their pursuit, poor Theo finds himself drawn more and more to Martin. When his treachery is found out, Theo must make the decision to either help Martin win the day–and possibly be jailed for his assistance–or turn from the man who sparks more than just a passing lust in his heart.
From the beginning of this story I was completely involved in Theo, and really rooting for him to be a good guy. A starving writer who obviously fell on bad times earlier in his life, the clever young man lived by his wits and sometimes by his luck—what little he had. When he and Martin first meet, it is difficult to picture the two of them developing a relationship, simply because they were so very different in almost every way. Beginning with the fact that Martin was a former slave, there was also the reality that he had become a businessman of some standing in his community, while Theo was nothing more than a romance writer who quietly turned the other way while people sought relationships that were rarely approved by good society.
One could feel that there was some chemistry between the two men, but the endless chase after the eloping couple really kept this novel from developing the romance, as I would have liked. Instead, theirs was more an itch that needed to be scratched due to being thrown into close quarters on their journey. While there were definitely some tender and revealing moments between the two men, I was frustrated that it felt as though the moment the author began to scratch beneath the surface and feed us some of Martin and Theo’s backstories, we were jerked away and thrown right back into flight. Hence, much was left underdeveloped and we had to rely on the idea that these two men were falling in love rather than actually watching it happen in the novel.
KJ Charles is most assuredly one of the best at developing historical fiction that captures the period and atmosphere of the time frame being written about. This time, however, while the story was solid in the vernacular and style, the plot felt incomplete and lacking in real depth. In the end, Wanted, a Gentleman was a good story that with just a bit more development could have been a great novel.
You can buy Wanted, a Gentleman here: