The Gentleman and the Spy by Neil S. Plakcy

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Three out of Five Stars


After his father’s death Lord Magnus Dawson has more important things to think about than falling in love—like how to earn a living when all he knows is the idleness he was raised with, and the military training he received before selling his commission.

For Toby Marsh, the impetus is as great, though he doesn’t have Magnus’s family connections to fall back on. A scholarship student at Cambridge, he was forced to spend his last year in college as valet and sometime tutor to a brainless fellow student after his father’s sudden death. Now he scrabbles out a living as a freelance tutor.

Then a call from the Foreign Office brings them together. Toby disdains the idle lordling, and Magnus can’t seem to treat Toby as more than a servant. As they delve deeper into their assignment, the attraction between them grows. But can they envision a future together when so class and culture conspire to drive them apart?

The Review

Lord Magnus Dawson is down on his luck. His father has passed, but his older brother has control of the estate and he’s not offering Magnus work on the estate. Magnus is desperate for work and he stumbles into working for the Foreign Office because of his title.

Toby Marsh, who is also down on his luck. He has a degree but hates the idea of teaching, so he tutors to make ends meet. His specialty in languages and previous experience as a valet lands him a temporary job at the Foreign Office working as a valet for Magnus as they go under cover at a shooting party.

The attraction between Magnus and Toby is instantaneous. It’s got a bit of a forbidden love aspect to it that worked. Magnus and Toby are in different social classes and that is used for their undercover work.

There were parts of this that I was iffy on. What was their purpose of going undercover? I kind of lost that. Then some of the terminology got a little repetitive. I didn’t like that I couldn’t remember the purpose.

TRIGGER WARNING Scene – Toby Marsh scene message me if you want more info. I had to skim through it

What I did like was being able to see this from two separate classes and the issues that come from that. Also it was interesting to see the inner working of estates and how they work. There was detail that late me be exactly where Magnus and Toby were.

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An Unsuitable Heir by K J Charles


This is Book Three in K.J. Charles Sins of the Cities Series

Summary: A private detective finds passion, danger, and the love of a lifetime when he hunts down a lost earl in Victorian London.

On the trail of an aristocrat’s secret son, enquiry agent Mark Braglewicz finds his quarry in a music hall, performing as a trapeze artist with his twin sister. Graceful, beautiful, elusive, and strong, Pen Starling is like nobody Mark’s ever met—and everything he’s ever wanted. But the long-haired acrobat has an earldom and a fortune to claim.

Pen doesn’t want to live as any sort of man, least of all a nobleman. The thought of being wealthy, titled, and always in the public eye is horrifying. He likes his life now—his days on the trapeze, his nights with Mark. And he won’t be pushed into taking a title that would destroy his soul.

But there’s a killer stalking London’s foggy streets, and more lives than just Pen’s are at risk. Mark decides he must force the reluctant heir from music hall to manor house, to save Pen’s neck. Betrayed by the one man he thought he could trust, Pen never wants to see his lover again. But when the killer comes after him, Pen must find a way to forgive—or he might not live long enough for Mark to make amends.

The Review


Before I start my review, I need to tell you what one of the most important aspects of this novel is: the beautiful portrayal of Pen Starling.

Pen Starling is a non-binary character. It’s not often that you come across an author who can make a character feel as real as KJ Charles did with Pen. The way Pen identified throughout the novel wasn’t mentioned in passing. It was present the entire novel. There were explanations, feelings and a need for the reader to understand just who Pen Starling was. There were scenes that showed the thoughts that swirled around Pen’s mind. There were some days his mind and body was more masculine and others its more feminine. It wasn’t a joke to KJ Charles and that was beyond important to me.

But on to the other bits!

I’m a fan of historical fiction, it’s the historian in me. I get picky when I read what’s supposed to be historical and the language, the buildings, the actions of characters don’t reflect the time period. I didn’t have this issue with An Unsuitable Heir. The language used and the imagery used immersed the reader in the time period.  All the descriptions of clothes, Pen’s job, character reactions, and how society would have truly acted towards a non-binary person like Pen and a person in not the best societal standing, enhanced that feeling. It was easy to get lost in the world that was presented. I wanted more. I was very glad to have had a chance to read this early.

Would I recommend this to friends? I already have. I recommended it when I was about 30% into the novel. I’ve got the entire series on my iPad but I’m hoping to buy physical copies soon.

I received a copy of An Unsuitable Heir by K J Charles from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Sins of the Cities series is comprised of: An Unseen Attraction (Book One), An Unnatural Vice (Book Two), An Unsuitable Heir (Book Three)