Review: A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles (Society of Gentlemen #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Random House Publishing Group - Loveswept in exchange for an honest review.

Julius tilted his head, acknowledging the sentiment rather than agreeing. In his view, Harry would be a success because of his modesty, his quick smile and eager pursuit of enjoyment, the sheer joy he took in his new life. None of those were characteristics of the well-bred people he knew. Perhaps Harry would become jaded by debauchery and bored by privilege. Doubtless he would make mistakes and be ridiculed; express happiness at some little thing that others took for granted, and mark himself out as plebeian. Julius could see the flush sweeping over his cheeks at every little snub and sneer, the self-betraying hurt in those expressive eyes, and even to imagine it made his fists tighten.

Born and raised a radical by his parents and spending twenty-three years as Harry Gordon and participating in the battle for government reform, Harry Vane is sought out by his cousin and informed that he is to become a gentleman and live up to the family name in order to become one of two of his grandfather's heirs. He is to be mentored by Julius Norreys, a close friend of his cousin's and a dandy of the highest order. Harry knows a great deal is expected of him and wants nothing more than to earn the praise of Julius. Developing feelings for a man and espousing calls for democracy is considered criminal behavior, but Harry is finding it difficult to be the gentleman that is expected to be and the man he truly is.

A Fashionable Indulgence is the first in the Society of Gentlemen series from author K.J. Charles and it also happens to be the first book penned by the author that I've had the privilege and pleasure of reading. To say that this was simply a male/male romance would not give this book justice. Yes, there was certainly romance, what with the evolving relationship between twenty-three-year-old Harry Vane and twenty-nine-year-old Julius Norreys, but there were also other facets--including political and societal--that made this first in a series a thought-provoking read. There are books that are pure entertainment and there are those that are for information purposes, but A Fashionable Indulgence had me enthralled while inspiring me to learn more about the era the story is set in and take note of the changes and parallels then and now.

I was thoroughly impressed with the character development of not just the lead characters but of the supporting ones as well, making me curious about them and wanting to find out what may be in store for them in future books. There is much more to Harry and Julius than being a radical and a dandy, respectively. Harry is torn between wanting to live a far more comfortable life and having access to the promised inheritance assures him of that, but he also finds it difficult to sit idly by and know speak up when it comes to the plight of other classes who demand change and equality. Then there is Julius whose sense of loss and guilt has cast a pallor over the past five years of his life, triggering the need for him to solely focus on things like the cut of his clothes, the style of his hair, and the rest of his physical demeanor. 

There are certain events in the book that caught me by surprise, though I don't really want to mention what they are and why I was caught unaware, but suffice it to say that I more than appreciated those instances because that meant this was more than your run-of-the-mill story and characters. I've become emotionally invested in several characters and while I was hoping that two in particular would be brought together in one of the next two books, one look at the summaries for the rest of the series left me with the realization that I was simply wishfully thinking things would go my way. But yes, A Fashionable Indulgence has more than piqued my interest in all things Society of Gentlemen has to offer and I am eagerly anticipating future installments. For now, allow me to give this latest 2015 favorite five-plus stars. ♥

Release Date: 11 August 2015

Date Read: 08 August 2015

Learn more about K.J. Charles here.

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