Title: Band Sinister
Author: KJ Charles
Length: 224 Pages
At a Glance: Band Sinister is a delightful novel to lose oneself in. KJ Charles fulfills every expectation for her most faithful readers as well as any reader who might be new to her work but are the most ardent devotees of Historical Romance.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Sir Philip Rookwood is the disgrace of the county. He’s a rake and an atheist, and the rumours about his hellfire club, the Murder, can only be spoken in whispers. (Orgies. It’s orgies.)
Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in rural seclusion after a family scandal. But when Amanda breaks her leg in a riding accident, she’s forced to recuperate at Rookwood Hall, where Sir Philip is hosting the Murder.
Guy rushes to protect her, but the Murder aren’t what he expects. They’re educated, fascinating people, and the notorious Sir Philip turns out to be charming, kind—and dangerously attractive.
In this private space where anything goes, the longings Guy has stifled all his life are impossible to resist…and so is Philip. But all too soon the rural rumour mill threatens both Guy and Amanda. The innocent country gentleman has lost his heart to the bastard baronet—but does he dare lose his reputation too?
Review: It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the pleasure of losing myself in a KJ Charles Historical Romance. I’m so glad I chose Band Sinister to break that long dry spell.
The scoundrels, rogues and rakes of historical fiction are some of my favorite romantic leads. If it’s fair to call an archetype a trope as well, I will say that the transforming of a heart too cynical to love and a man so contemptuous of society’s rules that he willfully breaks those rules just to spite them is, and will always be, a favorite. Of course, Sir Philip Rookwood has good reason to thumb his nose at a society that never has deigned to show him common courtesy let alone simple decency. What I appreciated a great deal about this novel, however, is that Charles upsot my expectations of a redemption story. This is not a story of redemption. Philip neither wants nor needs to be redeemed, but he does need to be understood and the country naïf Guy Frisby, whose family name was intertwined with Philip’s long before they’d ever laid eyes on each other, became the ideal man to gift Philip with his understanding and trust.
Guy’s introduction to Philip, the chosen brothers who make up the Murder (as they’ve dubbed themselves), and to the forbidden Rookwood Hall comes on the heels of an accident which finds Amanda Frisby helpless and at the mercy of Philip’s unenthusiastic hospitality. The Frisby siblings’ attendance at Rookwood Hall not only runs the risk of damaging Amanda’s reputation—far more than it’s already been—but Guy and Amanda run the risk of their aunt and sole benefactor discovering their whereabouts. It’s their backstory and how it ties into Philip’s that adds to the deliciously scandalous nature of their spending time at Rookwood Hall, and while it puts a damper on Philip’s mood to have them under roof, it was also lovely too watch him warm up to their presence both in his concern for Amanda’s health as well as in his attention to Guy. Amanda herself, from the brief moments we’re allowed to spend in her company, is irrepressible and clever and has a secret which becomes quite the thing for the men of the Murder. I also enjoyed the side romance she became a part of, yet another bit of scandal to add to her repertoire, which made me like her all the more for it.
Band Sinister is a romp rife with droll banter, a bit of snark and unfettered honesty where polite restraint was more the norm, and characters who are not only charming but do not lack in interests that kept me engrossed in the story, all while delving into the realms of the sensual as well. Philip introducing the virginal Guy, who is quite concerned with adhering to convention, to what it means to take pleasure from another man, and to give pleasure in return, is not only integral to the formation of their relationship but plays a role in the storyline itself. Philip teaches Guy to embrace passion, and Guy proves to be not only a willing but apt pupil. I enjoyed how the intensity of their encounters left the far-more-experienced Philip feeling a bit wrong-footed.
The three men who are the foundation of the Murder, Philip, Lord Corvin, and John Raven, share a connection that goes well beyond mere friendship or even the bonds of their brotherhood. The overall sense of their connection and the pleasures they take in each other’s company, both physically and emotionally, is an absolute imperative to Philip; it is not something he’s willing to endanger for anyone, which also made me appreciate Guy all the more. That bond was something he could empathize with, as he was every bit as committed to Amanda’s wellbeing, putting her first even when she didn’t want him to. Each man’s uncompromising loyalty was the bedrock of their character, and that understanding befitted their attraction to and relationship with each other.
Band Sinister is a delightful novel in which to lose oneself. KJ Charles fulfills every expectation for her most faithful readers as well as any reader who might be new to her work but are the most ardent devotees of Historical Romance. This story is populated by characters it was impossible not to be charmed by and, as always, the tone and atmosphere is indicative of the time, allowing me to immerse myself in the message. Although the book isn’t titled as such, I could see it spawning another book or two, especially with regards to Lord Corvin, who has more story to tell than we’re teased with here, I’m sure. I’d count myself fortunate if so, as I’d love to know more and would gladly welcome any and all of these characters back into my reading space.
You can buy Band Sinister here:
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