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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Band Sinister by K.J. Charles

~sigh~ I loved this book SO MUCH. It was impossible to put down and I'm definitely paying for it today with a lack of sleep but it was SO worth it. This was a tender love story. It was sweet, endearing, in a way innocent even for the guy who couldn't be any less except when it concerned his new found interest. There was something beautiful about the way all characters found their own family or chose the one they felt meant the most and it didn't have to necessarily have anything to do with blood and certainly nothing to do with status. It's all about finding a place or a group of people who SEE you as you are and ACCEPT you with no judgement just wanting for you to have and be your very best self.

The Rookwook family and the Frisby family have been neighbors for years but they haven't been in a good one for almost 20 years and since the current head of the Rookwook family isn't usually around the Frisby's siblings usually ignore his existence even with all the rumors about Sir Philip Rookwood and his "Murder hellfire club" he hosts in his estate. Yet Amanda Frisby has always had her wild imagination and she decided to write a Gothic novel about what MIGHT be going on there, at least how she pictures it in her head. Her brother Guy is HORRIFIED by her novel, not concerning it's worth but the fact her use of their disguised names couldn't be more obvious..

The bad blood between the families has nothing to do with the "young generation" and everything to do with Philip Rookwood's older brother James and Eleanor Frisby - Guy and Amanda's mother who ran into the sunset together leaving behind two broken families. Guy and Amanda's life shattered to little pieces with a drunken father who died with too many debt paid by their aunt Beatrice who couldn't be more resentful for her sister's behavior and thus pays for them to stay low and not ruin her current position as the Lady Paul Cavendish and since they don't have other way to make an income they accept her conditions. Amanda as a book writer could really help their financial situation.

When Amanda breaks her leg while transpassing on Sir Philip Rookwood's land (as a research for her next book...) both siblings are surprised by Philip's hospitality. Well, it's mostly Guy who is grateful (while being worried and fearful) as Amanda is unconscious battling an infection due to her injury. She couldn't be moved without a real danger to her life, so even though Philip isn't thrilled about the Frisby siblings staying at his home he is not an inconsiderate man and he tries to make both siblings' stay as comfortable as possible while trying not to make it more difficult for himself and his close friends who came to his country home exactly to be away from society and be who they want and how they want to be.

At first both men feel uncomfortable with one another. Yet they both sort of warm to one another as they spend more time together. Guy sees Philip firstly as a kind man. His friends might be a bit too eccentric to his liking - atheists with radical views and illegal tastes - but stretching their legs almost every day on the the estate grounds brings them an opportunity to talk. It takes time for Guy to get used to the way Philip phrases himself, his sarcastic and cynic views and mostly his thinking about society and how all these circulating rumors and prejudice should NOT shape anyone's life. Both men struggled with society's distaste of their lives with a lot of those of no fault of their own (but their family's actions) but while Philip was surrounded by people who cared about him (yet not actually his family) - Viscount Corvin and John Raven - Guy had no one except for his sister and while he loves, cares for her and does his best to shield her from everything he can he is still in a much worse situation than Philip is and was and seeing that Philip can't help but offer his kindness and friendship.

Guy couldn't be more innocent, yet he he is unable to resist his interest in Philip and it's quite obvious to anyone who looks at them that there is something THERE but Philip is not sure he should pursue his own infatuation. But it gets harder and harder to put his feelings aside with each conversation they share and each revelation into Guy's inner world and though Philip is floored with Guy's vulnerability and honesty he himself offers compliments and insights on Guy freely and honestly his words made ME swoon.

"Your beauty hides itself away, invisible until you decide someone is worthy of seeing it. And then you smile, and it shines"

I think anyone would want someone like Philip for his (or her) introduction into sexuality. His openness, acceptance, lack of judgment and also the way he asks for permission to be granted the same way he gives his own. There was never any pressure or expectation, there was always honestly and generosity. I don't think I've ever read a sexual exploration as gentle as this one and Guy surely needed EXACTLY that. He needed Philip to guide him, but while Philip no doubt was more in control he was also always attentive allowing Guy to make his own small (and not so small) steps and not simply be swept away by Philip's own wishes.

There is so much more to this book. Philip's interactions with his friends - especially Corvin and John Raven. If the names sounds familiar they were the one to commission Theo Swann (From "Wanted, A Gentleman") to write the book "Johnathan" which was featured in "Unfit to Print". There's also quite a lot going on with the novel Amanda wrote and Amanda herself. While Guy was tormented about their lives, wanting everything for his little sister whom he adores, Amanda in a way grew up a bit sheltered by his action and so it was easier for her to see Philip and his friends' POV concerning society's stupid norms. She wants so much more for herself and her brother and like her brother if necessary she is more than willing to be there for him. Also like him she is able to find her own happiness while staying at Philip's estate.

Truly OUTSTANDING novel. Can't recommend it enough. It's a bit more angsty than KJ's usual reads but it's also raw, beautiful and heartfelt because of that.


Read on:
21-22 April 2020

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