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Publisher's Summary

A slow-burning romance and a chilling mystery bind two singular men in the suspenseful first book of a new Victorian series from K. J. Charles.

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He's happy with his hobbies, his work - and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship....

Rowley just wants to be left alone - at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding...it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered. Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they're to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets - and their hearts.

©2017 K. J. Charles (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about An Unseen Attraction

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  • BR
  • 02-25-17

K J Charles is amazing

I had a hard start with this book. I love Charm of Magpies so much that I was initially disappointed to listen to a softer, more slowly paced book. But the author's talent won me over. As is true in all her books, the characters are portrayed as complete people with flaws and issues that make them more interesting. The characters are not "perfect" as people or physically. Which is a relief from most m/m books and gives their romance through friendship and awkward flirtation more complexities than simple physical attraction. Not that there isn't sexual attraction and a tiny bit of kink, which is nicely explored. Besides the layered personalities of the main characters, KJ Charles situates them deftly in Victorian London with nice historical details. The mystery is not the strongest element of the story but it does move the story along. The narrator had a good voice and gave each character a unique voice without overdoing it. I still hold out hope that Charm of Magpies will someday get turned into an audiobook but am perfectly happy with her current work if it continues to be of this quality. And (the best compliment you can give an author) I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.

16 people found this helpful

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Delightful

I'm fond of adventures featuring everyday people, and this is an excellent example. I felt like I could have been one of the other residents of the boarding house or regulars at the Jack and Knave. KJ Charles' historical worldbuilding is thorough without beating you over the head with endless descriptive passages, so that you're just dropped into the rich complexity of Victorian London and allowed to live there. This is a gentler, slower story than some of her wild rides, but there's plenty of excitement, a little horror, and some truly hilarious animals.

6 people found this helpful

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Truly refreshing romance

What did you love best about An Unseen Attraction?

KJ Charles is the first historical romance author I've seen to obviously do a great deal of research into the eras of their books. Weather, environment, geography, trades, laws, scandals, current events— all taken into account. I've never read erotica about London during the industrial revolution that even mentioned industrial pollution. This London feels lived in, and the setting feels to be as much of a character as the characters themselves. ALSO gosh, it was was so refreshing to see a romance about a biracial person, let alone one presented as on the autism spectrum! In fact, this is the first romance I've ever read with a non-white protagonist, and it was so refreshing to not just see Clem (front and center on the cover!), but also to have his complicated relationship with his family and culture discussed and not be conveniently glossed over.

Which character – as performed by Matthew Lloyd Davies – was your favorite?

I adored Matthew Lloyd Davies as a narrator. This was the first book of his I've listened to and I'm excited to follow to more of his work. His character voices were all a delight and all extremely distinctive, recognizable, and added extra dimension to each character.

Any additional comments?

I've now listened to this entire series and am truly enamored with this trilogy of books. I highly recommending listening to them in sequence, as a trio. The way the three books' narratives are constructed and twine around each other is unlike any other romance series I've ever read. Enjoy!

5 people found this helpful

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Unexpected delight

This story quickly captivated me from the beginning and delightfully pulled me through every chapter to the wonderful conclusion. I have already added the next two novels in the series and can’t wait to dive into them. The mystery of the tale is cunningly parceled out with clever plot devices and gentle humor. The gay sexual element of the book is skillfully woven within the plot without being overwhelming or gratuitous. It’s a great novel in which the main characters are gay, instead of using a thin plot as an excuse to jump from sex scene to sex scene.

4 people found this helpful

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Not my cuppa

3.25 stars for the narrator. He wasn't bad but the voices he made during the sexual scenes made me uncomfortable lol.

2 stars for the story. Was not a fan of either of the characters. Clem was naive and weak when it came to his brother and Rowley was weak when it came to Clem. I just didn't care for it. I also was a fan of the story line dealing with the brother. However, I will be listening to book 2 hoping it improves.

3 people found this helpful

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Wow! A cozy romance with a dangerous mystery, too!

This is the first book by KJ Charles that I have read or listened to, and I was really impressed. I cannot wait to read the next two books in this trilogy. What a great combination! An exciting, gritty murder mystery, and a lovely gay (male-male) romance. I was enthralled the entire time by the excellent writing, wonderful characters, and an absorbing plot.

Clem and Rowlie are both good, decent guys. They respect each other and have patience and affection for each other's shortcomings. Rowlie is a taxidermist who came from a really poor background in South London. Clem is an autistic man who manages a lodging house for lower middle class artisans. He grew up in the English countryside. Clem looks like a handsome young man from India, but he was raised by his white English father. Clem's autistic characteristics include the following: an aversion to crowds and loud voices, an inability to multitask, a resistance to change, and a love of an orderly routine. I really like when romances have autistic characters, and this book handles it really well. I also loved the realistic progression of Clem and Rowlie's relationship, which is put under stress by the dangerous situation. They have disagreements that they work through.

The audiobook is wonderfully atmospheric. Dangerous men lurk in the sickly yellow fog. I discovered unusual parts of Victorian London where books have never taken me before: a taxidermist shop, a lodging house for artisans, a private social club for gay people, and a trapeze artist show.

I would say that there are several love scenes, and they are moderately steamy. Although they are somewhat graphic, the mechanics of what they do is not very adventurous or advanced as compared to other MM romances that I have read. Clem and Rowlie's first sexual encounter is so sweet and awkward; it was very charming. I felt the closeness and intimacy between Clem and Rowlie. The love scenes were very well written and added to the growing relationship in the book.

It was so sweet how the pair liked to just spend time together sitting on the couch having tea, talking, and petting the cat. I like both men a lot. Clem did occasionally get on my nerves with his denial and stubbornness about certain things that come to light.

Certain things in the plot were settled at the end of this book, but an ongoing story arc continues in Book 2 with Clem and Rowlie's investigative journalist friend as one of the main characters. I can't wait to listen to Book 2.

The narrator Matthew Lloyd Davies did such an excellent job! He is now one of my favorite narrators. Each character's voice was very distinctive, with the correct type of accent, different pitch, and the speed of speech. For example, Clem had an adorable English countryside accent, like a hobbit. I also like how the narrator seemed very comfortable with the intimate male/male love scenes. He is very good at expressing the emotions that Clem and Rowlie have for each other. In addition, his pacing was superb, especially for the action scenes. I hung on his every word, and I think he did a perfect job. Because of Mr. Davies' narration, I just had to buy the second book in this trilogy.

3 people found this helpful

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Well Done Historical M/M Mystery/Romance

This is the type of m/m romance I can get into. It has a plot first, with the romance supporting it. With so many cookie-cutter romance stories around, it is refreshing to find one as well done as this one. Told from the two main characters' POVs, the switching happens in chapters rather than paragraph ping-pong ball done by so many inexperienced writers.

I found the description of foggy London so well done that I could feel the grit on my own skin, as if I'd been walking through it myself. And of course, the narration by Matthew Lloyd Davies makes this story a listening treat for the ears, especially the sex scenes. And speaking of sex scenes - the slow build up makes this story extremely erotic, with just a slight dom/sub added in for spice.

Although a self-contained story, I like how it leads in to the sequel - which I have another month to wait for!

3 people found this helpful

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Loved it

The narrator was very good and brought the book alive. I did have problems with Clem. He almost was TSTL. The book was enjoyable and the mystery was very well done.

3 people found this helpful

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LGBQT friendly historical romance

I am not usually a consumer of romances. Partially because I have an impression of them being rather one note (fair or not) and partially, no doubt, because my own experiences with romantic love have not been kind. But, this one promised at least some mystery and it was set in Victorian England and it has sexual, racial and ability representations which are deeply important to me. Added to that that this happens to be part of the plus catalog on a month when I cannot spend more money on credits, and decided to try it

I am so glad I did. I loved the narrator, who I thought did a great job (I am American and do not have a perfect grasp of regional accents elsewhere but I believe this was handled well, to my limited knowledge). I loved the characters: gentle, lovable Clem who is neurodivergent and courageous in a world which, even now, does not perfectly fit people like us. Capable, patient and traumatized Rowley, dealing with the spector of child abuse and rising above it.

I enjoyed their coming together (though I feel slow burn is a bit of an exaggeration, I also don't read many romances so maybe it is slow for them to get together by chapter 3) and I was surprised by the conclusion to a degree (I had my suspicions of the culprit but I really couldn't be sure). I enjoyed the descriptions and the writing. I don't really feel "cliffhanger" is accurate. You are given enough of an ending to reasonably stop reading the books if you want, and feel satisfied, though I intend to try the next myself.

I do want to address a couple of the other reviews, since I can't comment on them directly. Calling Clem "TSTL" really disappointed me. He is, in fact, NOT stupid. He is someone dealing with a difference that means that he has to think and react in ways that are not necessarily run of the mill but which do make sense. I think he was a very well researched character who adapted realistically within his capacity.

Living with neurodivergency is not a one size fits all thing and the author still represented him well to me, and I am both neurodivergent myself and work with neurodivergent people. Another review claimed that no one showed courage. Incorrect. Courage is not the absence of fear, after all. Both characters had challenges. Rowly came from a violent background and like many trauma victims had triggers. Clem was dealing with challenges that made doing ordinary things courageous in a way.

If you have a need for flawless characters with perfect bodies and minds who react to danger as if it's a game or as if showing feelings is weakness, this won't be your book. However, I'd take friends like these characters any day over that other type of character.

2 people found this helpful

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Not worth a go

I thought to give it a go, reviews being mixed. And I listened to half the book, but the characters are just so bland and weak, the story so boring. It was boring people in a boring romance trying to live through a boring mystery. No one was smart, or brave, or ingenious, or thoughtful, everyone was just scared and reacting to everything around them. It just annoyed me. Not sure I’ll check the others in the series, it was painfully bland.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • 06-27-20

Good story

The concept is interesting and well written. The characters are likeable and the narration is good.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Louise
  • 10-06-21

Great start to the series

I hadn't realised the Sins of The Cities series had an interconnected plotline (each book focuses on different characters, so I thought they were standalones with connected characters), but actually really liked having more time for the plot to develop, alongside the romantic storylines. I liked the way Clem and Rowley's relationship started very early on, but it's established that they have a previous connection starting before the events of the book begin, so it works. I wasn't sure about the narration at first, but it actually really works for the time period the book is set in somehow. Overall a nice blend of romance, drama, intrigue and immersive historical setting.

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  • Shadow
  • 08-22-21

A ripping good gay romantic yarn

A delight to listen to, excellent narration and although it wasn’t always difficult to identify the culprits, it kept me hooked to my headphones. I am off to buy the next in this tidy little trilogy.

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  • Flora
  • 05-21-21

Blew me away...

I bought this not knowing what to expect, but ready to be open to what the writer wanted to share, and I listened to the entire book in one sitting. No regrets whatsoever!
This beautiful story drew me right in, to all its subtleties, nuances, like a fine watercolor being brought to life before my inner eyes. And even better, it was also challenging, frustrating and painful to experience parts of the journey, which just added to it's overall charm.
Rowley and Clem's relationship was a gem of a literary creation, and there was an almost intimate privilege in seeing into their connection. As someone who has lived and worked with people who are at various points on the spectrum of learning needs ( as is everyone to a certain extent, to be clear!), it's so refreshing to have a character like Clem being given the space to be a fully present human, with all his needs and aspects honoured and respected, particularly his sexuality - it's too often the case that people further along the spectrum get automatically de-sexualised, reduced to tropes or seen as lacking the capacity to express or experience aspects of being human that society deems the realm of ' normal people'.
The story drew me in right away and I really look forward to getting the next books in the series to see how it all pans out!

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  • Jayltee
  • 04-16-18

Disappointing

Given how much I enjoyed the Magpie Lord series it’s a shame I found this so boring. Clem was a frustrating character who is kind and accomodating except when it comes to anything that actually matters, like logic and the truth, at which point he’s annoyingly belligerent. His relationship with Rowley left me cold, unlike other works of Charles which have been both delightfully romantic and smoking hot.
Narration was very good

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  • Martin Moore
  • 04-08-18

Rushing for part two.

I’ve been riveted, by the character development, the incredible settings and well drawn sense of time and place.