Desert Isle Keeper
A Seditious Affair
The second book in K.J Charles’ Society of Gentlemen trilogy, A Seditious Affair contains all the ingredients I enjoyed so much in A Fashionable Indulgence, which I read in the summer. I was so impressed by Ms Charles’ writing and the wonderful way she wove the romantic relationship through a gripping story of social and political unrest, attempted murder and conflicting loyalties that to say I was chomping at the bit to read this next in the series is a massive understatement.
But the wait was well worth it, because A Seditious Affair is, amazingly, even better than the previous novel. Some of its events run concurrently with those in A Fashionable Indulgence, so readers of that book will already be familiar with the protagonists of this story; lawyer and Home Office official Dominic Frey and Silas Mason, bookseller and free-thinking political activist.
Every Wednesday night for the past year, Dom and Silas have been meeting anonymously, at a discreet house of assignation. Although he is a gentleman of good breeding and a powerful official, when it comes to the bedroom, Dominic likes it rough; he wants to surrender control, to be forced to submit to the man he has dubbed his “brute”. Neither knows the others identity, but over the year they have been meeting, they have become friends and companions as well as sexual partners, enjoying the intellectual aspect of their relationship as much as the sexual side.
K.J Charles sets the tone of their relationship right from the opening page, with a searingly hot sex scene after which the couple starts chatting companionably about their week. It’s poignant, almost domestic and utterly brilliant, the deep emotional connection between them so strongly drawn that it drew me in straight away and wouldn’t let me go until I’d finished the book.
Readers of A Fashionable Indulgence will recall Silas’ activities as a pamphleteer, writing about the injustices practiced on the British people by the ruling classes, and calling for drastic change. The book is set shortly after the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, a peaceful gathering of workers which turned nasty when soldiers began firing on unarmed civilians. Readers of historical romance set in the Regency period will be familiar with the world of the ton; the seemingly endless round of balls and parties attended by our beautifully dressed heroes and heroines as, in the best tradition of escapist fiction, we are presented with a picture of grace, elegance and wealth . But in actuality, the decade from 1812 to 1822 was a period of great unrest in England. Following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the country was on the verge of great change in many ways, fuelled by bad harvests, large numbers of returning soldiers unable to find work and the massive inequalities between rich and poor. And in 1819, so many were prepared to speak out against the privileged classes that the government was driven to introduce the Six Acts, acts of parliament that pronounced every meeting for radical reform is an overt act of treasonable conspiracy against the King and his government. I confess, this isn’t a situation I knew much about before reading this book, but I found it fascinating.
On opposite sides of the political spectrum, “the brute” and “the Tory” are stimulated as much by their often voluble exchanges of ideas as by their sexual relationship. Dominic is all for the need to maintain order – people need rules, laws and government or there will be chaos; whereas Silas wants people to have a choice, even if they choose badly, and he will continue to speak out while he can. But the passing of the acts – one of which is a tax on printed material – makes Silas’ already precarious situation even more hazardous. Already believed to be the seditionist Jack Cade, Silas is struggling to stay one step ahead of the authorities who want to silence him. Dominic’s loyalties are stretched to their limit, and it’s hard to see how on earth these men who so obviously care very deeply for each other can possibly end up together. But what Ms Charles does so beautifully and convincingly is to show how both men have been changed by their association, so that when things come to a head and they have to make some difficult choices, those choices are perfectly within the bounds of possibility and don’t feel at all like some convenient plot device to ensure an HEA.
Set against the backdrop of the Cato Street Conspiracy, Ms Charles has done an amazing job of weaving a compelling and deeply romantic love story through the rich tapestry of real historical events. I admit that when the nature of the relationship between two such unlikely bedfellows was revealed, I wasn’t sure whether I’d enjoy the book as D/s relationships are not normally my cup of tea. But I was completely won over by both Silas and Dominic, who are wonderfully drawn, strong characters, and by the sheer depth of emotion that lies between them. We are re-introduced to a familiar cast of supporting characters including Julius and Harry from the previous book and Lord Richard Vane and his mysterious, seemingly omnipotent valet. Richard will be one of the protagonists in the next book, and is such an unpleasant stuffed-shirt in this one that I can’t imagine how Ms Charles is going to redeem him; although I’m sure she will, and in spectacular fashion.
Without doubt, A Seditious Affair is one of the best books I’ve read this year.
|Review Date:||December 8, 2015|
|Book Type:||Historical Romance|
|Review Tags:||activist | cross-class lovers | Male/Male romance | mild d/s | opposites attract | politician | publisher | Queer romance | Society of Gentlemen series|
The poll and CZO’s review brought all the love I have for this book back vividly. Thoroughly deserving of a top ten place in the 2018 poll.
>>However, a sense of closure with an HFN would work for me in this case.
Oh, yes, you’ll get that. :-)
Robin – I agree with your comments. I imagine that the relationship would be likely to last over the long term simply because Dom and Silas are limited to seeing each other maybe 1-2 times a week, and not more. Plus, each fulfills the other’s needs in ways that would be hard for anyone else to do.
Keira: You always get to try a book then decide it’s not for you. ;)
Re the huge political divide between Domenic and Silas: I loved the way that played out for them, spurring each to grow and make sacrifices. It’s a little hard to imagine a relationship like that surviving the long haul, but: 1) We don’t have to worry about the long haul. and 2) I think it might actually work for them, because Silas values his independence so much. They will always have a certain type of relationship, both because of that, and because their relationship is illegal. So, even if they wanted to live together, which would mean their disagreements would bump up against each other all the time and might get overly enflamed, they don’t have that choice.
Indeed, yes! In Cat Sebastian’s two books that I have read, the two men figure out how to live together even in the Regency. However, with two such prominent men as in ASA, you’re right, it’s doubtful they’ll be able to find an HEA. However, a sense of closure with an HFN would work for me in this case.
I am grateful to everyone taking the time to reply with such detailed analysis of the book. You’ve made up my mind to go ahead and read the book. Thank you.
I actually find the D/S relationship super-intense, and I think I might have rated the sensuality hot. True, there are no whips and chains, no body fluids (aside from the usual), but the emotional intensity is a 10/10 for me. This is some deep, deep sexual chemistry. Like Caz, I’m not easily shocked, but the intensity does pack a punch!
Ah! Now you’re making me doubt my ability to handle this. I find Cat Sebastian about the hottest I can go, and I find Alicia Rai too hot. Looks like this may be super intense and beyond my comfort zone. I’m so conflicted. Perhaps the best thing would be to give this one a go and see where it takes me.
All I can say is that the sex scenes are incredibly well written and are not “tacked on” – they’re integral to the relationship development so while they might be a bit out of your comfort zone they do have a greater purpose within the love story, which is, as Robin said at the start, beautifully done.
Thanks as always, Caz. Your opinion of a book is always interesting to me.
I agree with STL-reader: You *can* read this one on its own. The experience will be a lot richer if you read the first novel first.
Chiming in with more love for this book!
Keira, “A Seditious Affair” was my first KJ Charles book, and it worked well for me as a standalone. It made me want to read the rest of the series.
That said,,. having now read the two previous books (the novella that starts the series, “The Ruin of Gabriel Ashley,” and then “A Fashionable Indulgence”), I would say:
* It *helps* to read “A Fashionable Indulgence” before reading “A Seditious Affair” in terms of understanding some of the events that unfold.
* “A Fashionable Indulgence” is weaker than “A Seditious Affair,” in my opinion. If I had read “AFI” first, would I have gone on to read “ASA”? I’m not sure.
Also, the m/m sex “A Seditious Affair,” while consensual, is definitely rough and not everyone’s cup of tea. (I also found the sex to be a little hotter than “warm.” :-) )
I cannot give this book the A+ that Caz did for the simple reason that Silas and Dominic are so far apart politically. Does there come a point where you say, I love him, but he believes in something I will never feel right about, and I don’t think I can be with someone like that?
I asked myself: What if this story took place in Germany in the 1930s? And Dominic, though himself not a Nazi, had a job where he provided services/supplies to the Nazi Party? And peasant Silas, though not Jewish himself, sympathized with increasingly persecuted German Jews, who he counted among his friends and neighbors? Would there come a point, as the 1930s-early 1940s wore on and terrible things were being done to European Jews, gypsies, etc, that Silas would no longer be able to separate his friend Dominic from the Nazi party he was clearly supporting (if only indirectly)?
So, yeah, I love this book, but on a star system, it would be 4 out of 5 stars for me.
Thank you so much for this thoughtful analysis. Being forewarned will help me keep my cool with the characters. I prefer less heat in the sex I read, so I appreciate knowing what I am getting myself into.
There’s a huge difference between being a Tory and being a Nazi.
Dominic is a conservative in the sense that he believes in maintaining the existing social order (which is very much to his own benefit, of course). Obviously, Silas does not. One of the beautiful things in the novel is that it also shows the evolution of Dominic’s thinking (and he says so explicitly to Silas at one point), but it derives from his sense of justice and fairness, not because he’s getting laid by a radical. Certainly his view of government and the activities of the Home Office are considerably altered by the events in the novel.
To me, Silas and Dominic seemed, at the end, like two people who could respect each other’s perspectives even as they disagreed fundamentally about quite a lot. There are plenty of couples like that in real life.
I read A Seditious Affair first, and then the rest of the trilogy (not the prequel novella). The entire trilogy is excellent, but ASA is the best. It’s the only book I’ve read in the past five years or so that I consider an A, with no reservations (I’m a picky reader). Also, Silas is awesome.
Thank you for this analysis, Mary. So helpful in deciding to read it.
That’s it exactly, Mary, well said. And Silas is, indeed, awesome. He’s quite possibly my favourite character in the entire series (and one of my favourite KJC characters full stop.)
Thank you for this comment, and agreed. As a queer Jewish reader the Nazi/rebel allegory was a little… bad. I think, Mary, that your reply is a beautiful summation of why I actually like Dom, and Dom and Silas’ relationship, so much.
Oh I loved this one so much.
It really is perfection.
May I ask: How hot is the D/s relationship? Is it BDSM? Are there a lot of sex scenes? I’m trying to figure out if this is my cuppa tea.
I rated it warm which means that IMO, the sex scenes are the same frequency and heat level as the average HR. (That said, it takes a lot to shock me!). The D/s relationship doesn’t involve whips or chains :P.
Thank you. I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and your review just convinced me I should.
I know how much you like the history in historicals and finding out new things -and this is just as superb on that front as it is in developing the romance. I really can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed, Keira. Do let me know what you think when you’ve read it!
Thanks much, Caz, for highlighting the history aspects of it. I was sold before, but now, you’ve just upped the ante.
Have you read the 1st book? I always think context is good in a series & part of the pleasure of A Seditious Affair is how different and unique it is on it’s own, but how well it works are part of the ongoing story of this group of friends/confidants.
No, I haven’t. I haven’t read any KJ Charles. So your recommendation is that I go read the first one before diving into this one? Sounds good.
I do believe this is the most beautifully crafted love story I’ve ever read.
I’m inclined to agree with you. This is still the only book to which I’ve given an A+ grade.