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Society of Gentlemen #1

A Fashionable Indulgence

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In the first novel of an explosive new series from K. J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.

When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.

After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.

264 pages, ebook

First published August 11, 2015

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About the author

K.J. Charles

59 books8,144 followers
KJ is a writer of romance, mostly m/m, historical or fantasy or both. She blogs about writing and editing at http://kjcharleswriter.com.

She lives in London, UK, with her husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Twitter https://twitter.com/kj_charles
Join the lively Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/13876...
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Please **do not** message me on Goodreads as I no longer check the inbox due to unwanted messages.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,017 reviews
November 7, 2015

The beginning was tentative, but as is typical of a K.J. Charles novel, the story picked up, and I was mesmerized.

This book has it all: ballroom politics, bedroom antics, and societal intrigue.

The flame between the flashy, sarcastic Julius and the fledgling-radical-turned-heir Harry cannot be suppressed.

Julius is "made of moonlight." His dry sense of humour had me in tears:

"[Your style is excellent] ... for a large and sober man of forty."

"Thirty-six," Lord Richard said.

"Really? I would have said older, but I dare say you know best ...."

Harry is lost. He's been dragged along and done without for so long, he'd do anything to belong. But as a good friend tells him:

"If you can't be happy, then be something else. Be useful, that would be good. Decorative, if you like. Selfish, if you must. Just don't whine about it."

The writing is sharp and witty, but I expect nothing less from this author.

I enjoyed the complex secondary characters, particularly Harry's cousin Verona, a woman who knows what she wants and will push to get it. Hurrah for a strong female character!

The relationship between the MCs changes and evolves. They move from mentor/student to a grudging friendship to lovers.

Julius teaches Harry London manners, how to dress, how to speak ... how to pretend.

Harry teaches Julius, who's living in a prolonged state of grief and guilt, to kiss ... and to give.

The sexy scenes are contained, but they are gorgeous and true.

"You've needed a good hard fuck as long as I've known you. Untouchable Julius," [Harry's] tongue flicked out, over Julius' parted lips. "Why hasn't anyone given you a ride before now?"

"Nobody was sufficiently insolent," Julius managed.


I, for one, am already a devoted fan of this series.

I want to read more about the ever proper Richard, whose feathers most definitely need to be ruffled, and perhaps Dominic, who needs to be gripped and whipped.

So many delicious possibilities, so little time.

Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,861 reviews5,638 followers
November 9, 2015
*Only $0.99 today at Amazon US, 11/9/15! http://www.amazon.com/Fashionable-Ind...*

*4.5 stars*

Lesson learned: never doubt K.J. Charles.

There is no getting around the fact that the start of this book is sort of slow. At first, I was feeling a little iffy about the story and having a really hard time connecting to the characters, which was freaking me out because this author is usually SO on point... like ALL of the time.

Then things started to get interesting.

The plot of the book is deceptively simple. A poor man comes into a fortune and needs to be tutored in the ways of London high society. However, the author makes this story so utterly compelling and way more nuanced than you'd expect.

The character development really makes this story come alive. The MCs are such divided, flawed characters and I adored every bit of them. But as much as I loved Henry's rags-to-riches story, it was Julius who stole my heart. Julius was so contained, so in charge, that I just DIED with joy when Henry broke through that exterior, bit by naughty bit.

This series has so much potential. I liked how the side characters were included (and how their own individual stories were teased) but didn't take away from the main couple's story. K.J. Charles struck just the right balance.

The writing was sharp, the story was engrossing... I couldn't ask for anything more.

**Copy provided in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,144 followers
December 31, 2014
Book 1 of the Society of Gentlemen trilogy, set in Regency England. Young Radical Harry Vane discovers his noble birth, and is plunged into Society with icy fop Julius Norreys as his guide, tutor...and more. May involve politics, plots, marriage and murder as well as some seriously nice clothes and one really bad puce coat....

The first in a trilogy of m/m Regency romances about a group of gentlemen with unconventional desires in a time of social and political turmoil.

(There's a story about two other members of the society of gentlemen, Ash and Francis, in the anthology Another Place in Time.)
Profile Image for SheReadsALot.
1,838 reviews1,194 followers
August 15, 2015

BR with Adam & Cupcake!

A tag-team review betwixt Cupcake and Baby can be found here:

4.5 HEARTS--Regency era through the mighty pen of K.J. Charles.

My favorite historical period written by one of my favorite authors? You know I was all over that.
This wasn’t fabulous on-dit with the Ton and clandestine meetings at molly houses (I like those too) Charles brought her fabulous vocabulary to the London streets of 1819 where the working class continues to suffer under British society. The upper class aren’t listening nor helping the lower classes. The class system is unjust. For a quick minute while I was reading, if you switched some of the main players’ names around to today’s US big wigs – it’s like reading the today’s news. :/ Don’t worry I won’t get political.

“A Fashionable Indulgence” is a story that features action, the effects of classism, rags to riches and an ice man who melts for the one he loves…and doesn’t lose his acerbic tongue in the process. Oh, oh and has the best choice dandified clothes. Ever.

Julius is just--(timeout: He brought to mind Lucius Malfoy and I know, he’s evil, but I have such a crush on him and I kept picturing Lucius as Julius, same ice queen, ice blond, sharp tongue ways and I just melted. Okay time-in) If you look up the word dandy, you might have a picture of Julius cutting you with his eyebrows, slaying you for days.

Harry Vane is the son of radicals. He has lived life on the run and knows nothing else. He flees to France with his parents while an adolescent, only to return a near-man, penniless and an orphan. His parents radical friend, Silas, is the only one who takes him in. and there he works until a windfall with strings is bestowed upon him. He can become one of them, the Ton. A life without having to worry about being arrested or worse for helping Silas fight for the cause.

He takes it (he’d be crazy not to) but those strings. See, Harry has to learn how to ape like his betters. He inherits a family with all sorts of society connections including Lord Richard Vane and friends. Lord Vane and his friends form a sort of society where the man love can be free if you know what I mean and I think you do. They’ll help carry the rest of this series (Also can’t effing wait – good lord)
But this first book is all Julius, flawless dressed (he really loves his fashion) dandy on the outside, damaged ex-soldier on the inside who knows how to move and shake within the Ton. He becomes Harry’s mentor in all things except one.

Ah, you thought Harry was a nubile virgin? Nope. That trope isn’t played here. Harry teaches Julius a few things as well, more importantly lasting things such as caring and love. Reading someone who comes off as having a hard exterior fall in love is always refreshing and one of my favorite characters to read about. As usual, K.J. Charles brings a different light to the regency era. It’s not society by plays but more about the friends as a whole, their personalities and how they play a part in the larger arc of radicalism. I don’t think I can remember too many regency romances with radicalism, it was different. I equally love society and the working class when it comes to this era I find.

Since it’s not my first go round with K.J. Charles, I found this to be a very solid start. I’m more intrigued with how she’ll pull off the other two books. There was something about the swiftness of Julius going all hearts in with Harry that can’t make me give all the hearts. Still one of my favorite books of the year.

Oh and the sex was awesome, passionate and fitting, not overdone. :D

Highly recommended.

A copy provided for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kat.
940 reviews
August 26, 2015
I'm aware that there's a time and a place for D/s sex on tables while magpie tattoos flutter around excitedly....

And it's tempting to go with the wave of praise and let Charles' earlier works, that were without exception instant successes for me, appease my disappointment.

And compared to what else the genre has to offer, A Fashionable Indulgence truly is a decent regency romance. But the truth of the matter is, I'd been looking forward to Charles' usual quirky, amusing and interesting characters with their genuine chemistry and hot scenes. I'd anticipated her popping and sizzling plotting for months.

But...but....it was honestly tough for me to recognize Charles' hand in a big chunk of this book since it lacked most of her signature elements (in my not so humble opinion). What was left was good writing.

And infodumping.
And ignoring the enormous potential of the My Fair Lady trope by humorlessly morphing the street kid into a gentleman.
And so much telling.
And barely there UST that eventually made my anticipation take a woooooo---waahhh---wahh?---whaddafuq nosedive when that quick hand job happened and the rest of their encounters were either hastily TOLD or skipped.
And a book that felt more like a pilot that never took off.
And Lord Richard's historically challenged, but oh so convenient hangups.
And checking again if I was actually, really reading a Charles?

I sinned. I skimmed. I skimmed a fucking K.J. Charles because I was BORED???! *bangs head against screen*

If you've read the anthology Another Place in Time, you'll remember Ash and Francis and their hot little tale (that's also coming up in The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh). They make several short appearances in this book too, described in lines like "Ash was marching in, a broad grin on his handsome features, with Francis a severe, silent presence behind him", that made me want to latch on to them immediately, and never look back to the uninteresting vessel in the form of Harry Vane that Charles condemned me to instead.

And did I mention that I miss Lord Crane so bloody much right now?

Oi! Next book! Please be good? I can reread The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh only so many times.
Profile Image for wesley.
223 reviews235 followers
January 17, 2016

While it can’t be denied that this was an excellently written book, I can’t also say that this is Charles’ best book. I expected it to be fast-paced and tension-filled but was kind of let down when I found it more subdued.

The characters were interesting enough, but I found it difficult to connect with them as much as I wanted to. Harry and Julius’ romance lacked chemistry and felt bland. The build-up and UST I was waiting for in a Pygmalion trope didn't live up to expectations.

With the story set during Great Britain’s era of social change and reform, I expected more of the plot to focus on the bigger things – politics, corruption, social injustice and oppression – but only saw these more pronounced toward the end of the book. The story, rather, gravitated on Harry’s dilemma – how he can’t choose between two disparate lives. Pacing was slow with a rather abrupt and less detailed resolution, if I can call it even that.

Harry just wasn’t a strong MC to support the story’s great backbone. That being said, I can’t wait to read the second book.

Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,765 reviews3,851 followers
February 24, 2018
BR with Baby & The Adam!

I ❤ A DANDY!!!!

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I wish I could give this all the hearts.

This is my first K.J. Charles and I was captivated. I dragged it out because I didn't want it to end. I'm a fan of series wherein a cast of characters, that aren't blood related, are family nonetheless and if that cast of characters are all intriguing then I can hardly ask for more.

All of these characters are expertly drawn:

The unflappable Cyprian
The detached dandy Julius
The impetuous Harry
The imperious and compassionate Richard
The sensible and proud Silas
The intransigent Dominic
The "sapheaded" Ash
The resolute Verona
The asshat Gideon

That last one hurts a bit. My poor name kink took a hit. The only member of The Ricardians I didn't truly get a sense of was Francis. Otherwise, Charles breathed life into these characters with her magnificent words.

I was transported back to Regency England with its curricles, whist, settles, cravats, foxedness and waistcoats.

The depiction of the seedy underbelly, the side that's overlooked and underrepresented in historical Regency books and I appreciated that. It's clear Charles researched the era by the presence of historical events she incorporated seamlessly into the story. There may have been a little heavy-handedness with the political rhetoric of the era, but I like politics and history, so I was happy as a clam. I don't mind saying that I'm crazy stupid excited for the next one in this series with Silas and Dominic.

Two words: HATE FUCKING!

Julius and Harry, the protagonists of this story, are thrown together on a bet. Harry must live up to his surname and to achieve that end he's to study with the crème de la crème of dandihood, Julius. I was drawn to Julius from the start. He's sharp, cutting, witty and outwardly haughty, but I got the sense underneath that bombastic exterior was a man desperately trying to conceal his pain.

Harry is just the ticket.

He's exuberant and... he reminded me of a puppy actually. He's eager to learn, easily overwhelmed, in need of guidance, impulsive and prone to blundering. He was brought up in the stews to radically liberal parents who were both outcast by their families because of their ideals. In order for Harry to blend into the ton he requires a strict taskmaster and Julius is certainly that.

Be careful what you wish for for you will surely get it.

The problem is the more time they spend together they become friends and have inside jokes. Followed shortly by Julius coming to realize he doesn't want Harry to change altogether. Harry, for his part, is smitten, but his grandfather's expectations for him to marry and produce an heir weigh heavily on him.

Julius needed fucking, in Harry's opinion, and a lot of it. Biting Harry's shoulder, gasping into his ear, whimpering under his hands and mouth-no wonder he shielded himself against passion, when it undid him so completely. Undid him and made him.

A Fashionable Indulgence is more passionate than erotic. Julius and Harry are hungry for each other no doubt, but their relationship is built on a foundation of friendship and trust. Their relationship progression was dazzling. They are evenly matched in attributes and flaws.

The suspenseful whodunnit added to the upbeat pacing and I'll tell you I did not see that end game. Kudos to Charles on throwing me for a loop.

Highly recommend this entertaining and charming initial book to what's sure to become a favorite historical series.

He kissed with such precious care, as if every time was a gift, as if to be together was a small victory to be celebrated.


An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) on-hiatus.
1,092 reviews798 followers
June 9, 2019
Buddy reread June 2019; With Elena, Moony, Rosa and Teal.

Loved it even more the second time.

K.J. Charles's writing is great. She made me feel like i was living in the 1800s with these characters.

5 +++++++++++ stars

Read this in one sitting.

This book! this book!


I Loved the writing, Loved Julius adored Harry.

Profile Image for Moony Eliver.
305 reviews161 followers
June 10, 2019
June 2019: I liked this volume even a little more than I did on my first read. This time, I was determined to write more of a review, but I still can't because I'm still too anxious to move onto A Seditious Affair, which is easily my favorite book in the series.

-----original review-------
This book deserves more of a review than I'm going to write right now, but I'm impatient to start the next in the series.

After the volcanic start that was the short prequel (do not miss that, omg the hotness), I loved getting to know the Ricardians in this first full installment. The plot was on point, detailed and nuanced and how does KJ make that look so easy?? No one does it like she does.

My connection to the main characters, Harry and Julius, was a little slow to form, and I felt many of the other characters were more robustly portrayed. But I adore this ensemble cast and I am looking forward to the inferno that I know is waiting for me in the next...
Profile Image for Ingie.
1,344 reviews169 followers
April 9, 2016
Written August 18, 2015

3.8 Stars - A historical yummy M-M romance is always a joy for me and this was a good enough series start

A Fashionable Indulgence is new M/M Historical from a fantastic favorite romance writer, K.J. Charles. I've more or less read and loved every story by her magic pen so far. It felt great to at last (after months of eager waiting) start this new very promising three book Society of Gentlemen series (new lovebirds in each series part).

And was it a good one?

Oh yes absolutely!!
I liked and enjoyed but I'm not stunned and maybe didn't love. Overall a very nice, well done and fun read. This gang of gay men we learned to know here were all quite interesting and it will be very good to meet them again later this fall.


Meet two quite flashy men with a taste for good things in life (and other men) in the late 1810:s London. These characters has quite different upbringing and history but they both like to shine. ...And I liked that.
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«In the first novel of an explosive new series from K.J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.»
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# Harry Vane, (24) raised in simplicity and almost poverty with radical politics in everyday life. Fortunately finally rediscovered by his wealthy grandfather Vane (and cousin Richard) and returned to the fine establishment in London's aristocracy.

# Julius Norreys, (30) a frivolous fop and dandy in the most beautiful clothes and with an eye on what applies for the day. But even beautiful and well fortunate people carrying sometimes sorrows and a tough past.

Lord Richard Vane, the head of the Ricardians (a bunch of gay friends) let these two get to know each other. Julius is asked to learn Harry good manners and style. Harry needs to be accepted by the the ton quickly if his grandfather is going to accept him as a future inheritor. No one in this noble social circle should in the future be gossiping about a less flattering past and dubious background when meeting Harry.
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“And here’s Mr. Aristocrat Vane, the clothes on your back enough to feed a family for a month, I’ll be bound, come crying to me because you’ve squabbled with a fop over a pink coat. Because you’ve sold yourself and you don’t like the price. Is that the best you can do?”

And just guess how this turns out.
Quite surprising actually....


There were a lot of stuff happening here. Many characters and maybe this book lacks a bit when it comes to concentrating the storyline to the main couple here. I liked them, Harry and Julius, but I never really felt them (their souls, hearts, inner pulse) or for them (their love's grandness) as much as I wanted. (As a sincerely romantic old fashioned romances reader.)

For me should A Fashionable Indulgence have been an ever better romance novel with more intense "feel" moments. Meybe more heartbreaking romantic grand scenes and less about all these second characters (even if I liked them), friends (as I want to meet in later books) and side plots (a bit unresolved sometimes).
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‘...Julius felt Harry’s words fit to his mind like the wood to his palm.
I love you.
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I usually always applause historicals with topics as also point to social issues and life's inequalities between the social classes in the old days. In this case was it maybe too much that was mentioned but then never really fully "discussed", solved or lead to anything in this story in the end. I'm sorry to say but even the suspense plot felt a bit too easy solved and flat in the end. ...Or was it me and too high expectations?


I always like K.J. Charles way of telling stories, make interesting (not perfect) naughty characters, her hilarious witty dialogues, creepy suspense, and in many ways I got all that this time too. Well, my conclusion: A Fashionable Indulgence was a lovely boys loves boys HR, a good enough addition to my crowded KJC's book shelf and I want more. Much, much more.

I LIKE - to read about men loving men 200 years ago

BUDDYREAD with my sweet friends Sofia, Bev and Andrea this second August weekend 2015. Thanks Ladies!
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
590 reviews249 followers
August 11, 2019
10-year-old Harry Vane has been fervently hoping for a serious stroke of luck, in the form of a sizable inheritance. Forget changing the world, he'd rather be a lazy good-for-nothing noble, if he could stop having to run from the authorities. Wonder of wonders, our hero gets his wish 14 years later. Of course, this sudden windfall comes with plenty of strings attached, but Harry's seen much dire circumstances.

... until he gets hopelessly enamoured with his aloof dandy of a teacher, and realizes that some of his new obligations are rather unappealing after all. At the end of the day, Harry finds that he's not quite ready to sever every single link to his old life.

come on man

Taken separately, I greatly enjoy both historical, and M/M romance novels. Combining the two however, had always felt like it would make any real attempt at a happily-ever-after quite a challenge. Reading the author's Charm of Magpies series though, has given me hope.

Sure enough, Harry and Julius' chemistry was just perfect, even with all the angst thrown in to make for some seriously thrilling moments. And yes, there's plenty of fun banter to be had, mostly in the form of fashion commentary.

fashion commentary

... which is where things start to spiral down, for me. I know next to nothing about contemporary fashion beyond "this shirt DOES makes me look like a beach ball" vs "this shirt DOES NOT make me look like a beach ball", so discussing the pros and cons of men's clothes from 200 years ago didn't really spark much joy in me. Unlike the characters who were happy to spend an entire afternoon debating fashion related stuff.

And then came the discussion about Harry's feelings on fighting for the right of the poor. I have no problem with people not wanting to fight for certain/some/any ideals. I am also one of those passive types, who'd rather do the angry muttering from a safe distance, preferably behind closed doors. However when it comes to publicly explaining your choice... somehow it's not so easy to fight for your right to be selfish.
...or maybe that's just me? Suffice to say, that the subject made me uncomfortably aware that this book was not that much of a mindless entertainment.

Score: 3/5 stars

I started out wishing for mindless entertainment, got plenty of it early on, only to then get stuck pondering several serious issues. By all accounts that's a rather commendable aspect in a book. At the same time, while my mind can appreciate the pros of making me uncomfortable, my heart would have much rather settled for a less thought-provoking read. Sorry, I guess?

Review of book 0.5: The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh
Review of book 2: A Seditious Affair
review of book 2.5: A Confidential Problem
Review of book 3: A Gentleman's Position
Review of book 3.5: A Private Miscellany
Profile Image for Adam.
610 reviews309 followers
August 24, 2015
BR with SheReadsALot and Wench!

4.25 stars

In last year's Another Place In Time anthology, KJ Charles' entry, 'The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh', was all kinds of awesome. When I found out that Charles was writing a series about Gabriel and his lover Francis' friends, I was ecstatic. 'A Fashionable Indulgence' was a great beginning to this new series!

Harry Vane, formerly Harry Gordon, is the son of impoverished Radicals in Regency-era England. He's hated the upper-crust his whole life, but when he gets a chance to be a part of them, he dives in. It would be very easy to look at Harry as a hypocrite or coward. However to me, he was real. Charles wrote a character that was very flawed, who was willing to set aside his convictions for material things. But I could understand why he would do that. All Harry had known in life was hunger, poverty, and fear. Escaping that to become part of the privileged world of le bon ton must have been worth any price.

Julius Norreys took some getting used to. He's an aloof sarcastic dandy, concerned only with the cut of his coat and making quick-witted comebacks. Or so he'd have you think. When I finally got to see Julius' true self in the second half of the book, I think I swooned a bit. I loved seeing Julius open up in response to Harry's attention and kindness. It was sweet and sad all at once.

I think what I enjoyed the most in this book was the gradual progression of Julius and Harry's relationship. From strangers, to mentor and student, to friends, to more. It was all very well-paced, without becoming slow and boring.

I've got to give kudos to the author for showing the other side of the Regency era. The hungry and angry masses, the paranoid security forces, and borderline-tyrannical government. And the unsympathetic elite. KJ Charles paints an accurate, and occasionally heart-wrenching, picture of how the majority of the British population lived like at that time. It made for some enlightening context.

Overall, this was a great start to the new Society of Gentlemen series. 'A Fashionable Indulgence' was very well-written, with an entertaining romance and a bit of political intrigue. I'm looking forward to the sequels!

Review copy provided through NetGalley.


My pre-read gloating. Because.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,839 reviews393 followers
November 17, 2015
I'm a sucker for Regency romances, and this was no exception. Harry and Julius make a fine pair in this My Fair Lady salute. But it is the depth in the embroidering of the characters that make this as delightful as it is. It had all the elements I could want combined in a fresh manner.

Strange that I never really think much about the transition to representational government in England. Yes, I realize it predated all those with the Magna Carta. Frankly, compared to the American, French and Russian revolutions it always seemed so tame. Obviously, it wasn't a smooth glide, and I enjoyed this historical tidbit.

I was absolutely charmed by the homage to dramatists. Charles had fun squeaking in all kinds of references from the acknowledged Shaw and Pygmalion, which I thought anachronistic until I saw the parade: Shakespeare, Farquhar, along with Byron and Wollstonecraft. The nod to social critiques was clever and fun.

Overall, diverting tale of intrigue.

Favorite passage:
“Pygmalion had an easier task than I. His Galatea was carved from stone. She had no memories, and no past to be cut away.”
Profile Image for Ami.
5,813 reviews499 followers
November 12, 2015
3.75 stars rounded up

A Fashionable Indulgence is the first installment of a new series, A Society of Gentleman, from the marvelous K.J. Charles, released by Penguin Random House digital only imprint, Loveswept. As far as my knowledge, the series will be a trilogy, featuring the gentlemen from the Ricardians group of friends.

I will be honest to say that this book was NOT a smooth sailing reading experience for me. I struggled a bit in the beginning because the historical context – it sets in London in 1819, with the backdrop of political radicalism around the country – was a bit too ‘far’ for me to comprehend. I am an Indonesian, and my history lesson in school didn’t really cover the ins and outs of specific moments in other country’s history. I didn’t have good frame of reference in mind regarding the domestic turbulent situation after Napoleonic War in England, nor could I actually understand what the whole Ricardians gentlemen were all about. I had to Google-d some things to help me gaining more understanding, including the St. Peter’s Field Massacre.

On top of that, I never really care about the life of the "society of gentlemen" or the regency in general. In the beginning, it was quite delightful to think of Julius Norreys teaching Harry Vane on how to talk, to act, to dress like a gentleman. I kept imagining Julius shouting “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain!” for Harry to follow *laugh*. However, after a while, it bored me to hell. I couldn't care less about what buttons go with what coats or what color of waistcoat to wear (did I care enough about PUCE? Nope!), or why onyx button is better than ivory, or why gilt button should be worn in one specific occasion. And what the HECK is Titus and Cherubin hairstyle anyway?!

Let’s just say that I was this close of shouting internally. I guess I will not be a very proper lady, if I live in that time of age.

But then, K.J. Charles proves why she is still one of my favorite top authors. Around half-way, we finally had a HUGE argument between Harry and Julius, and suddenly it became fast-paced and engaging. Gone was the whole talks and debates about fashion – instead we had some explosive but emotional moments between Harry and Julius, when they finally acknowledged their feelings to one another. We had danger following Harry when the government zeroed in to capture radical movement supporters, including Harry’s friends, and to that extend, Harry’s involvement in distributing seditious pamphlets. It was exciting and I was biting my nails to find out how Harry could get out of the situation.

It took time for Harry to capture my heart. To me, he was a bit naïve. He wanted to be rich, he wanted to be part of the society of gentlemen because he didn’t want to live the way his parents did. Harry thought he could get everything he wanted without taking necessity consequences. Let's just say that I wasn’t feeling very sympathetic towards him – until his old family friend, Silas, drilled a new hole in his brain (NOT literally!!) *laugh*.

Having said that, Harry definitely shown the most progress in terms of characters, in my humble opinion. Yes, Julius had his own tragic past, and Harry was the first man who could make Julius felt love. But in terms of characters, I thought Julius was pretty consistent from the beginning. Julius had his principles and opinions on matters that didn’t sway easily. I liked Julius of course, but Harry was the one who progressed.

There are other characters here who rounded up the group of friends – and would definitely starring in their own book: Richard Vane - Harry’s cousin twice removed and Dominic Frey – Richard and Julius’s friend who worked at Home Office. We also have Silas Mason – Harry’s family friend, a radical bookseller and pamphleteer, as well as other secondary characters such as Richard’s loyal valet Cyprian and Harry’s other cousin, Miss Verona Vane.

All in all, this book won my heart despite the rough beginning. And let me tell you, I read the blurb for the second book and couldn’t contain my EXCITEMENT. If you know the main characters there like I do by reading them in this book, I am sure you would be as well. Gah, December couldn’t come fast enough!

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,894 reviews1,927 followers
October 10, 2020
Real Rating: 4.75* of five

Don't dismiss Romances without reading at least one KJ Charles romantic novel first. This Regency possesses all the charms of the best in the field at conveying the sense of an exquisitely beautiful lifestyle lived by rather dreadful people being, nonetheless, quite extraordinarily tempting an offer. Harry Vane, legitimate son of a pair of narcissists from wildly different social milieux, has that offer made:
No, I don’t want to be sober and restrained
{like his older Vane cousin}. I want to be beautiful. Bright. Confident. Perfect. I want to be you.
he thinks of his mentor, Julius, lusting and admiring and trying so hard to please:
“Again. No. With grace.”

Harry bowed hopelessly, a clumsy movement. “I don’t feel graceful.”

“Of course you don’t. You aren’t. You resemble a cart horse attempting to caracole. Very well, stop.”

Harry's noble father ran away from power, money, position to marry his mill-owner's daughter of a mother, and neither was ever going to be welcomed home because they embraced the Ned Ludd radicalism that led to them racing ahead of the hangman's noose to France. Napoleon's France. The one still reeling from their aborted revolution.

Harry, in short, was never ever going to feel safe anywhere...but then his fortunes changed when his paternal grandfather needed him, now that he's twenty-three and has lived hand-to-mouth in London after the parents had the balls to die at the same time) to carry on the family name. And it is here, my olds, that the action springs to life.

Julius is a man in misery, sadly, and the kind that warps one's view of humanity as much as Harry's uncertain upbringing does: He is Other, a queer gent in a time when that was a hanging offense; he is not on good terms with his family, not for his sexuality (one receives the distinct impression that they are in the dark about the subject), but for a tragic accident that took place at Waterloo. (No, not talkin' about it here. Read it for y'all's selves.) These two men, so young...Julius turns thirty during the story, and that's a big, big part of the story...and so damaged, gravitate together.
And everything he hated, the saliva, the fleshiness, the taste of other people’s food and breath and teeth and sweat, was here. Harry’s skin was as flawed as anyone’s close up. He had wide pores and what looked like red pinpricks, hairs in his nostrils and the sharp brown points of stubble, the first hints of what would be wrinkles when he aged, and stray hairs under his thick brows that could have been plucked away. He was imperfect flesh, like any man, and Julius buried himself in that imperfection because it was alive.

Harry's imperfections bother Julius; Julius's perfection bothers Harry:
“When my namesake, the great Caesar, rode in triumph,” Julius said, “he was accompanied by a slave whose role was to whisper to him, You are but mortal. To remind him he was merely a man who would one day die like any other.

If I could, I should have you at my side to remind me that I am alive, because I have not felt alive in so damned long, and with you, I do. No, I don’t want you to marry, any more than I want you to return to your dirty democrats. I want to show you the world, and see you smile, and keep you with me while my soul grows back. Don’t gape like that.”

The last line is directed at a completely overawed, overjoyed Harry, slackjawed that someone who opens his mouth and just spills this kind of guff verbiage would consider taking him as a pupil, still less as a lover!

So there are plot twists; Harry is banished forever (lasts about two weeks) from Julius's side because he wasn't completely honest once; Julius and the other men in their circle rally round Harry as some exceedingly horrible events transpire; a murder, a suicide, a long-awaited restoration of ma'at all occur. In short, it's a romance. And a fine one, replete with period details (look up "gamahuche"! Haw), and like all Author Charles's books, agreeably smutty and louche. (Straight-straight people: NO.)

The usefulness of any read is what the reader needs from it at the time of the reading. I needed something to help me combat crippling wretchedness by reminding me that there is love, compassion, and commitment in the world. This story was exactly that for me. Is it Dostoevsky? No. I didn't want Litrachure and its many, many tedious foibles, as I needed to be convinced that the world has always been filled with better people than I am used to seeing on the news.

Profile Image for Andrea.
905 reviews131 followers
January 9, 2021
Ok. So. Once more I am finding myself at a loss how to adequately do a book by this wonderful author justice. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, and I am still blown away by how much there was to this wonderful story. It's so much more than a typical historical romance: it tackles not only the problem of how men of what was considered an "unnatural persuasion" found happiness knowing that just one wrong move would see them hanged; it gives an amusing insight into what constitutes a true gentleman; it incorporates rebellion and riots, depicting both sides in a struggle to give a voice to people whom the upper classes held in contempt. There was so much going on, and it all tied in perfeclty with the story of two most unlikely people falling in love. Not once did any of it feel like an afterthought or mere padding, it all made the characters who they were.

"Ghosts are not so easily dismissed."

Harry Gordon/ Vane has never had a moment of peace. His radicals parents raised him amid a crowd of people fighting for a democracy, a chance to be heard. At age 12, he witnesses his father incensing a crowd to violence, a soldier dies, warrants are issued against him and his parents. Desperate, they flee to the Continent. After his parent's death, he returns to England, finding shelter in the bookshop of a former friend, one who still writes and publishes radical pamphlets that could see him hanged if discoveres. When a long-lost relative turns up and offers to give him his rightful place in society under the condition he become a gentleman, Harry jumps at the chance to become someone else, to find a place where he doesn't have to fear for his live anymore. But he soon finds out that he can't simply shake off his past and never look back...
I loved Harry. The sheer joy in his heart was infectious, and his discovery of he he really is was heartbreaking and sweet.

"I am well aware that you are storm-tossed, my dear. I merely wish that you will permit me to give you a port when you need it."

Julius Norreys has lived closed off from everything ever since a tragic loss. Determined to be seen as nothing more than an icy dandy, he hides behind exquisite clothes and a cool demeanour, preferring not to get involved in anything. When his good friend Richard Vane asks him to turn his cousin into a gentleman, he grudgingly admits that a project might be just what he needs. Little does he know his protege will not only draw him out of his shell, but awake feelings he had long thought buried...
I loved Julius. The way Harry slowly coaxed him out of his self-imposed isolation was just so sweet, and the more I learned about his past, the more I wanted to reach in and hug him. I could happily spend more time with these two! In fact, the second this review is done, I'll be starting the next book in this series!

This was not an easy, light, average historical romance. Far from it. I can't remember the last time I cried so hard for two characters (be it Harry and his struggle to balance his two lives or the way Julius retreated and cut himself off from life). I desperately needed those two to be happy, and it was a rough ride. With any other author, I would've given up halfway through because it was all just too much (if that makes sense), but somehow the author found just the perfect balance !
July 15, 2018
Audio 5 stars
Story 3.5

I've only recently started listening to audiobooks, and I do a lot of switching from listening to reading. I'm not always feeling the performance of the narrator. Especially during sex scenes. So far for me, the performances have lacked authenticity.

This is the first audiobook where I didn't even feel tempted to stop listening. Matthew Lloyd Davies is amazing! Simply amazing!! I will go out of my way to find books he narrates. Talk about giving life to a book and characters?? And the sex scenes... beyond impressive!! I could hear the passion.

I'm not big on politically themed books and that's why I rated the story 3.5 stars. Without the narration I probably would have done some skimming.

The MCs were endearing. Especially, Julius! I loved him. The author did a fantastic job with Julius' change from cold and indifferent to vulnerable and loving all because of Harry. Harry made him feel alive. KJ Charles definitely delivered the romance in this book. Definitely a series worth reading.
Profile Image for Trisha Harrington.
Author 2 books124 followers
August 11, 2015
5 amazing stars!

KJ Charles has become an auto buy author for me. Her books always hit the right spot for me and A Fashionable Indulgence is no exception. The first book in a new trilogy, this has made me even more excited for the next two books.

At first, I admit, I struggled to get into it. There was a lot for me to adjust to with the 1800’s historical settling and politics, but I soon found myself falling into the story and enjoying it more and more.

I loved Harry. The lost soul who was so easy to love, for me at least. He’d been through a lot in his life and had done things he didn’t really want to do, but had no choice. All he wanted to do is belong and when that chance comes in the form of a wealthy grandfather, he jumps at it.

Julius is the man who has to teach Harry how to be a gentleman, something he’s not exactly thrilled about at first. He was a bit more difficult for me to love in the beginning, but as I learned more about the closed off grieving man, the more I found myself liking—and eventually loving—him.

The relationship between these two is beautiful. It starts out as student/mentor, develops into a reluctant friendship and finally evolves into lovers who so deeply need each other, it had me rooting for them through all the BS of the historical setting.

Harry changes Julius in many ways. He helps him loosen up and see the world differently. He brings out the man behind the grief.

“It’s not that. I’ve made such a mess of matters and to embroil you any further—You know I love you. I don’t want to entangle you.”

“The problem is, you already have.” Julius’s fingers twined with his hair, “You have entangled me so thoroughly that I doubt I shall ever be satisfied with solitude again. I am well aware that you are storm-tossed, my dear. I merely wish that you will permit me to give you a port when you need it.”

He kissed Harry, gently. “And I have rarely seen a more precious sight that you lying like a mountebank to save your friend.”


“Utterly shameless.” Julius kissed him again. “Quite magnificent. I was proud to stand with you. And talking of stands…” He moved his mouth to Harry’s ear. “Next time you wish to lie to agents of the Crown, I insist you let me watch.”

I enjoyed seeing all the secondary characters and how they shaped the story. Especially Verona, Harry’s cousin, who was such an amazing, likable and strong character. She was a bit of a surprise to Harry, but not to me. I couldn’t imagine the story without her and quite honestly, I would have been happy to have more of her. She especially endeared herself to me in the last chapter, where she did something I knew she would do.

An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 photo Potential-OTDU-Banner-9-Smaller2_zpsf0878d67.png

I got an ARC!! I got an ARC!

The very first book I requested on NetGalley and they accepted me. Yay! Can't wait to start reading this!
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,514 followers
August 17, 2015
This historical romance manages to balance out a love story, a social commentary, and a young man's coming of age, and do it well. Harry is the son of a well-born man who left the world of the ton behind to marry a commoner and agitate for social reform in the streets of England. Harry grew up among radicals and agitators, always poor, often frightened, but also shaped by the drive and moral convictions of his parents and their friends. The death of his parents left him alone at 17, and dependent on working for one of their friends in a bookstore and underground Radical printing press.

Until a man comes to the shop to tell him that his grandfather has decided to rescue Harry, his last male heir, from poverty, and give him a life of wealth and ease. If only he can remake himself to fit into Society as a gentleman. Harry is not-unreasonably dazzled by the prospect, and in a small degree also with the idea of having family, and he agrees. He's given a guide to develop an acceptable manner and fashion - Julius, a friend of his cousin's and a man of impeccable taste. Unfortunately, Harry finds himself infatuated and distracted by wondering how Julius would taste...

Julius has spent the last 4 years hiding all human sentiment behind a layer of perfected and polished superficiality. He has the best taste, knows the right people, occasionally indulges the wrong vice, but only safely among friends. He is willing to be convinced to take on domesticating Harry. But Harry's open warmth, his intelligence, and the good heart that he has to control around the conservatives in their social circle, make Julius start to feel something more than just a challenge.

I loved Julius - his veneer of perfection was clearly hiding something deeper, and I was fascinated to watch it revealed. I also enjoyed Harry. He was in a tough spot, and it was easy to sympathize with his desire after all the hard years, to live a life of ease. The conflict he felt between the ideals of his parents, and the demands to conform and fit into Society, was clear and relatable.

In some ways, the spirit of the times - the fight for justice for the poor of a nation run by the rich and self-satisfied - almost overpowered the personal story. It was hard to cheer for Harry's happiness, if it meant turning his back on the people whose cause his parents had lived and died for. And yet, in this realistic approach, there was no easy answer to Harry's dilemma. I enjoyed watching him battle it, though, and look forward to the rest of the series.
Profile Image for Tara♥ {MindforBooks}.
1,360 reviews114 followers
March 15, 2016
"If you can't be happy, then be something else. Be useful, that would be good. Decorative, if you like. Selfish, if you must. But don't whine about it."

I have always adored historical romances. My love for them started when I was 17 and I found a box of Mills & Boon historicals in our attic, which no one in my house laid claim to (these were in fact my mother’s but she denies it to this day). I found them the week I finished my final exams and spent the next two weeks avoiding humans and devouring each volume of these ownerless classics. Please don’t judge me. These were the first non-educational books that I’d had the pleasure to read in a long time. After that, naïve young ladies in billowing gowns fainting at the feet of rakes became a staple of my reading diet.

Then I discovered M/M.

Then I discovered historical M/M.

Then I discovered KJ Charles.

And now I’ll never be free.

That feeling of hurtling back in time and experiencing an era long gone, convincing yourself that it was all so romantic and how wonderful it would be to have lived back then.

Historical romances don’t often show you the very harsh realities of those times and of course when you are imagining yourself in that era you are unlikely to pop yourself into the correct social class.

Every time I find myself in Merrion Square Park in Dublin I like to wax lyrical about what it must have been like to be a wealthy lady in the early 19th Century who would take herself and her parasol to the park for a stroll. Queue people pouring cold harsh reality all over my daydreams…

- ‘Ah, wealthy? You’d be lucky if you were a maid and tasked with chaperoning said wealthy lady, but even that is unlikely.’
- ‘A woman? Are you on drugs? Who in their right mind would want to be a woman back then? Wealthy or not.’
- ‘Doubtful you’d have been let past the gate to be honest.’

Granted they are all correct, but can’t a girl dream?

Obviously historicals by their nature contain historical facts, either by imparting on us how people lived or touching on significant events that occurred during that period, but some, such as ‘A Fashionable Indulgence’ are far more educational than others.

A million years ago (it’s actually 13 but it feels a lot more) I was a tour guide in the village where I’m from. There is a fort there that was built and occupied by English forces from the 1500s until 1919. Between that and my general love of history I did like to think that I was doing okay with my history knowledge but as is often the case I was wrong. The bulk of my knowledge is obviously Irish and as most will know, that history, for better or worse, is strongly tied to England. While learning about our history we were taught that the ‘English’ were the enemy who stole our land and beat down our people and as such, they were often vilified as a whole. We didn’t get to see the common man of England in our history books. We learned about the consequences of the Acts of Union and the Famine, both of which took place in the 19th Century. I remember on more than one occasion being absolutely baffled that English people on tours had no idea about the atrocities that occurred in Ireland during the Famine. But thinking on it, why should they? England has its own very vast history. While I was learning about our lack of freedom, it honestly never dawned on me to think about people in the same social classes in England. And now I’m baffled by my own ignorance because the political radicalism that took place in England in the 1800s and most importantly the Peterloo Massacre is brand new information. I’ve spent far too much time on Wikipedia as a result and the things I don’t know still vastly outweigh the things I do. Again reminding me why I love to read.

"The wicked have drawn out the sword, they have cast down the poor and needy and such as be of upright conversation."

Reverse of the Peterloo medal (Psalm 37:14)

Peterloo and the radicals provide the backdrop to this book and Waterloo, much like Wold War I in ‘The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal’ feels like a spectre interwoven throughout.

"I didn't take a single wound in the battle, you know, just cuts and bruises. But I'm as crippled as any veteran."

Both Harry and Julius are flawed individuals. Harry’s life was set on course by the choices his parents made. He does not see himself as a radical and has spent much of his life running and hiding from the ramifications of his parents deeds. When he is given the opportunity to escape this life, he gladly takes the way out. This leads Harry to meet Julius. Fashionable Julius, who is tasked with turning Harry into a gentleman in time for the London Little Season. Julius comes across as frivolous and cold. The cut of a waistcoat far more important than the well-being of the lower classes and for a time this suits Harry well. He is enamoured by Julius and the Ton. He takes great delight in how he dresses and very quickly learns to shed the skin of Harry Gordon and become Harry Vane but after the events of Peterloo, Harry finds it much harder to leave the beliefs engrained upon him behind.

"Pygmalion had an easier task than I. His Galatea was carved from stone. She had no memories, and no past to be cut away."

As Harry begins to realise that he can’t forget every part of his past, Julius too begins a transformation. As I was reading this I thought it was Harry who was changing the most but as the story progressed it became clear that it was Julius. Harry became a gentleman but in the end and with some guidance, he hung on to the things that were important. Julius was so jaded and often times cold. He lived a life of wealth and saw much but yet he experienced little. Julius was broken, he lost a part of himself and once that happened he seemed to just stop living, content with being frivolous and just coasting through life.

Their journey isn’t an easy one but it is a lovely one and an exciting one. Two men who are a little lost and very alone come together and by doing so discover who they really are.

"I find myself whole again because of you. Because you showed me what it was to be happy, when you had reason enough to be as lost in self-pity as I. Because you love me when there was little enough to love. Because you're joyful."

I’m really excited about his series, men from very different social classes in an era that didn’t understand or accept it, finding love together. I see fangirling in my future, I’m pretty sure I’ve already become a KJ Charles fangirl but I think I’m also going to become a ‘Richardian’ one. I envisage t-shirts. The thought of waiting for the next two books is making me twitchy.

Reviewed for Boys in Our Books.

A copy provided for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sofia.
1,144 reviews194 followers
August 18, 2015

After a relatively sedate begining this one turned into a roller coaster of a story. The combination of romance, story, social commentary, secondary characters and period detail created a great combination and an excellent background for the coming two books in this trilogy. The book can be read on it's own but it does make you very eager to read more about the Society.

Because of this combination which was excellently done in my opinion, we do not get into as much depth as we might want to with Julius and Henry but this did not defray from my enjoyment of the whole.

Henry is a man blinded by the idea of having safety, comfort, wealth and so found himself trying to serve two masters, his comfort and his conscience. Ok we know that we end up burnt doing that and so KJC adds that layer of angst to her story because we know that this cannot work but we so hope for Henry to find 'happiness'. In a way Julius too is trying to serve two masters, he is trying to live by not living. Well Henry puts paid to that and that was a joy to see.

Buddyread with Bev, Andrea and Ingela - great company as always.

Profile Image for Darien.
847 reviews327 followers
April 16, 2022
The Story: 4.5Pants Off

I loved the heck out of this! Can anyone else do regency gay romance like how KJ Charles does it?? This was a freaking gift and made my historical romance loving heart super happy.

Harry and Julius set the streets and the sheets of London on fire. Throw in all the political fighting, abundant wealth, and street walking poor. Where men fight for the poor and go against queen and country and others will fight just to shut them up.

A Fashionable Indulgence was a delight of epic proportions and I freaking loved it. Great characters, and a great story overall.

The Narration: 5 Pants Off

They couldn’t have found a better person to do this. Mathew Lloyd Davies was a treat for my ears and he just made everything so exciting. I damn near went up in flames 🔥 at the sexy time. When he put that growl raspyness in the voice for Julius or Harry, a girl was deceased.

Mr Davies is up there as one of my fave narrators. He brought this book alive, and I’m looking forward to much more of his works.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,680 reviews1,015 followers
July 26, 2016
First off, I have to admit this is the first book I have read by this author, but on the strength of it, I’m going to seek out her entire backlist, because A Fashionable Indulgence is an utterly fantastic read and I was really impressed. It hooked me in from the first page and kept me that way until the very end; the story is well-developed with plenty of historical detail, all the characters are very strongly drawn, and the two protagonists are captivating and intriguing. In short, I couldn’t put the book down.

The story begins in 1808, when twelve-year-old Harry Gordon and his parents – who are died-in-the-wool radicals – have to flee across the English Channel to avoid arrest for sedition and inciting a riot. Even though Harry’s father is the cousin of a Marquess, he and his wife have, for a number of years, been responsible for writing and printing pamphlets and books on the subject of the abuse of privilege and the plight of the lower classes and have become notorious for their willingness to speak out in the cause of radical reform. But with the effects of the revolution in France still at the forefront of people’s minds, such outspokenness is reviled and anyone espousing radical ideals is a target for the authorities.

Over a decade later, after his parents have both died in a Cholera outbreak, Harry Vane – Gordon was his mother’s maiden name – returns to London penniless and with nowhere to go other than to Silas Mason, a former associate of his parents’ who continues to write and print radical pamphlets in the cellar of his City bookshop. The thing is that Harry doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder or jumping out of his skin every time there is a knock on the door. He loved his parents, but can’t help feeling somewhat resentful of the constant danger to which they exposed him as a child.

It seems, however, that Harry is going to get his wish to live a more comfortable life away from the fear of discovery when a well-dressed, authoritative gentleman arrives at the shop and introduces himself as his father’s cousin, Lord Richard Vane. Richard tells Harry that their grandfather, Lord Gideon has been looking for him and that he, Richard, is to take Harry home.

One of the things their grandfather has charged Richard with is turning Harry into a gentleman. He may be of noble birth, but Harry has not been brought up as a gentleman and his manners, his dress and his knowledge of how to behave in society are all sorely lacking. Richard enlists the help of one of his closest friends, Mr Julius Norreys, known throughout society as an “exquisite” for his excellent taste and flamboyant clothes, and asks him to turn Harry into a gentleman so that he can be introduced into society and then do as his grandfather wants and find a suitable wife.

Julius isn’t keen on the idea at first, but Harry’s charm and natural joie de vivre begin to win him over and Julius soon finds he enjoys the time he spends in Harry’s company. He is also feeling the first stirrings of attraction that he has felt for anyone in a long time – ever since Waterloo, in fact – but the danger inherent in making an ill-advised advance holds him back; and in any case, once Harry is launched into society and starts his bride hunt, they will be nothing more than distant acquaintances.

But Harry is just as attracted to his mentor, the most elegant, beautiful man he has ever seen, and when the opportunity presents itself, he is not shy about making that interest known. Knowing of Gideon Vane’s insistence that Harry marry his cousin in order to continue to receive his financial support and, eventually, become his heir, Julius insists that their relationship must end once Harry’s betrothal is official –and Harry reluctantly agrees.

As well as the slowly-developing relationship between the two protagonists, the story includes a lot of fascinating detail about the political situation of the time; the Peterloo Massacre takes place (off screen) during the timespan of the book, and Harry finds it increasingly difficult to stop himself expressing his disgust over the murder and injury of so many innocents. His friends, while not disagreeing with him, are well aware that, given his parentage, if he does not curb his instincts, Harry could find himself in very deep trouble with the authorities – not to mention with his domineering grandfather, who despises such radical ideas.

One of the things I enjoyed so much about this story is the fact that although the author has set it in the Regency period, she has brought a strong political element to it, which is something that is rarely done in historical romance. She sets up the story incredibly well, right from the first page, and later, Harry’s struggle to work out exactly who he is, who he wants to be and what is his place in the world is so superbly realised that it is easy for the reader to relate to and sympathise with him, even when he is acting selfishly or naively. He is torn between wanting a comfortable life and his ideals; he can’t but abhor injustice of the privations endured by so many, but he has endured much himself and it’s easy to understand his inner conflict.

I adored the character of Julius, a man famed as much for his sharp wit and sang-froid as for his dress-sense. A tragic loss has caused him to retreat behind a shell of cold unapproachability, his concern with the superficialities of life his way of coping with that pain he continues to endure. Harry’s open-heartedness, his zest for life and the warmth and depth of his affection start to gradually thaw Julius’ icy reserve, and that was incredibly touching to read. The romance between them is really well-written and imbued with a great deal of warmth and tenderness. It’s not all plain sailing naturally, and not just because discovery could lead to the gallows; they have problems and disagreements to work through which serve to make their relationship realistic and believable.

If I have a complaint – and it’s a very small one –it’s that the ending is perhaps a little too pat, but honestly, I wanted Harry and Julius to have their HEA so much that it really didn’t matter – and in any case, it’s no more implausible than the endings in so many of the other books I’ve read!

I’m giving A Fashionable Indulgence a wholehearted recommendation. Ms Charles has created a cast of memorable characters in her club of “Ricardians”, all of whom are three dimensional ; the writing is superb with a strong feel for time and place, and all the relationships –the friendships as well as the romantic ones – are very strongly written. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series as soon as I can get my hands on them.
Profile Image for ♣ Irish Smurfétté ♣.
711 reviews151 followers
August 16, 2015
Don’t let the title fool you, or lull you into what would be a false sense of comfort.

Danger, fear, and violence – the potential for and realization of – are inescapable results of suppression. Something always gives way. This is true on societal and personal levels. This novel is an examination of both. It’s an examination of the many different forms of expression and decisions made while living a reality filled with these things. While trying to survive. While struggling to do more than just survive. While wanting to love and live as the person one is meant to be, especially when it doesn’t conform to the accepted norms. Poverty, inequality, and repression influence many a decision, especially when it’s between life and death, literally and emotionally. This is early nineteenth century England at its tony best and abject worst.

Shall we begin?

Right from the get-go, I liked Julius. He’s hyper aware of everything, extremely intelligent, doesn’t hesitate to share his biting wit, and is loyal to his friends. Despite all of this, he’s living a life partially blocked, partially broken.

Julius glanced down at his chest with some satisfaction. His waistcoat, in satin of a delicate pink hue shot with apricot streaks and embroidered with silver thread, was a masterpiece. It flattered his slim build, its dawn shades complemented his pale blond hair delightfully, and best of all, it caused almost physical distress to his friends.

Harry is intelligent, quick to thought and action, especially when involving those he cares about, and is so very exhausted from years of barely surviving. He might be smack dab in the middle of the protests against increasing inequality in early nineteenth century England, but that doesn’t fill your table or your belly, or afford him the truths within his heart.

Enter his cousin Richard.

Actually, I hoped you would do it.”

Julius blinked, startled. “I? Do what?”

Teach Harry how to comport himself. How to dress. Help him find his place.”

“Make your revolutionary into a gentleman? Bear-lead a radical cub? I?”

Little did any of them know where everything in this endeavor would lead.

There is a lot bubbling beneath Julius’s confident air. There’s even more below Harry’s widespread uncertainty. Neither should underestimate the other. The refreshing thing? Sometimes they don’t and the results are bright, entertaining, and meaningful. They both start to realize what’s really going on with each of them, in their individual lives and the one that maybe, possibly, they’re working towards together.

He (Harry) was, in fact, enjoying himself. And, God rot it, so was Julius.

This was probably the last moment when things remained simple, at least on the surface.

For as much as Harry and Julius are the centerpieces of this story, all of the supporting characters are just as well described and fully realized. Silas and Richard hold the power positions, if you will. While Francis, Ash, Dominic (his is a powerful place, as well, for different reasons), cousin Verona, Gideon (that Gideon *shakes fist*), Cyprian, Ballard, and so many others make up the moving pieces that bring this world to robust life.

Julius + Harry = complex, passionate, imperfect, humorous, and bone-deep needful connection.

”I’ve spent the evening in the best clubs in the land, and nobody’s thought twice about. You’ve turned me into a gentleman. And I’m drunk, and I feel like celebrating in a bloody ungentlemanly sort of way.”

*Insert fake pout that morphs into a knowing leer here.

Look, the crux of it is this: someone who was made to break free of the norm, who doesn’t fit the accepted positions within society, what do they do? What path do they choose? Can they draw a new one, digging that first step in the dirt towards an as yet unexplored way? Is it possible? And will those he’s come to count on and love be there with him, for him? Is it worth the price?

It’s surreal, amazing, and feels like a perfect fit when someone comes along and, not only reminds you of who you are but, begins to show you what else you can be.

But more, it was Harry. It was the sense that at last someone was at his shoulder again, on the inside.

Humor, love, mistakes, family, friendships, suffering, great injustice, death, murder, politics, surprises, anger, forgiveness, mayhem, and fun. All at the hands of KJ Charles’ writing. Surriusly? As if there’s a choice here. Read it! And if you are on the fence or don’t normally read historicals, forget that and read it! The detail is delicious, important without being overdone, and all used to paint a fully realized vision of this world.

Bonus: at the end, there’s a scene from book two, A Seditious Affair. I’m already grinning.
Profile Image for Erth.
3,511 reviews
June 12, 2020
This is a lovely novel, I could not put it down. I have read the books in reverse, so it was interesting to find out how many of the characters stories began. I particularly loved the dinner party where Harry finally had had enough and spoke up for the victims of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester, it was so well written with the heated discussion leading up to his outburst, I felt he was speaking for all the thousands of people who had no voice. I thought the love affair between Harry and Julius was very poignant, the way Julius managed to open his heart again after his past suffering at Waterloo was very moving. These books really make one think about the difficulties experienced by homosexual men from the past. It's so sad to think of all the unhappiness there must have been for them over hundreds of years. To think that to have a male gay relationship was only legalised at the end of the 1960's and that they were only in recent times allowed to have a legal Civil Partnership is just awful. These are well written, well researched and thought provoking books.
Profile Image for Elsa Bravante.
1,118 reviews173 followers
March 31, 2016
El otro día hablando con unos amigos sobre un libro al que le había puesto cuatro estrellas sabiendo que por calidad no las merecía, les puse el ejemplo de que me encanta comerme un Big Mac aunque sé que en el mundo de las hamburguesas es una mierda muy grande. Pues bien, soy consciente de que este libro puede que sea, puede, porque no estoy muy segura, en el mundo culinario una langosta, pero sinceramente, se la pueden quedar otros que yo me como el Big Mac.
Sería justo empezar diciendo que los libros históricos ahora mismo no están entre mis favoritos, en su momento leí tantos que quedé un poco empachada, así que empecé este con cierta renuencia, pero animada por las buenas críticas.
Y... La autora escribe bien, nadie le va a quitar eso, es obvio, escribe bien, está muy bien documentada, cuida los detalles, fundamentalmente de la indumentaria (de la que acabé un poco harta) y cuida mucho el lenguaje, es estupendo leer una novela de época con un lenguaje que se ajusta a esta.
Todo muy bien, documentación, trama bastante elaborada, pero llegamos a los personajes, el supuesto radical y el caballero, dos caracteres totalmente opuestos. El caballero, Julius, me gustó, el supuesto radical, Henry? Harry? (ni siquiera me acuerdo, atención a lo emocionada que estaba leyendo, terminé hace diez minutos y no recuerdo el nombre) NO. Este último me ha parecido que tenía el mismo interés que ver las hormigas pasar, ninguno. La relación entre ellos dos es muy fría, sin intensidad, no sé ni cómo se ha construido y eso ha hecho que el libro no me haya emocionado.
Hay una última cosa que me gustaría comentar y que he pensado al leer esta historia y la anterior. Cuando leo libros f/m una de las cosas que más me molesta es cuando la protagonista femenina es una pobre desvalida que consigue que su vida funcione porque se encuentra a ese gran héroe, bien posicionado, que lo arregla todo. ¿Sabéis qué? Mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Me gustan las parejas en los que los dos ocupan la misma posición dentro de esa pareja. Después de leer este libro y el anterior de esta autora, la sensación que tengo es que eso que me encuentro a veces (muchas, sobre todo antes) en el f/m, lo encuentro aquí también, dos protagonistas (en este libro y en el anterior) que parece que no pueden hacerse cargo de su vida y que cuentan con la ayuda de ese salvador más fuerte, más listo y con más dinero. Pues: mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ya veremos que pasa en los siguientes libros.
Lo bueno, me ha gustado bastante el mundo en el que se han movido los protagonistas.
Aquí termina mi opinión, absolutamente impopular.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,765 reviews3,851 followers
February 24, 2018
Ever have one of those reading, or in this case listening, experiences where you can't wait to get back to it and you don't want it to end?


That what I had with this. I was even better than when I read it because Matthew Lloyd Davies was incredible! If you've read this series then you know there are a bunch of characters. A whole bunch and somehow, bafflingly he gave each and every one of them their own voice!

What he did for sweet, lovable Harry made me love him all the more, but his interpretation of Julius is what sent this experience next level.

Now I can't wait to dig into A Seditious Affair and I also kind of want to start this over and read along with it too.

Decisions are hard.

Profile Image for Ele.
1,276 reviews40 followers
September 19, 2015
*4.5 stars*

This was absolutely amazing! I'm relatively new to MM historical romance and this is my first K.J.Charles book *hangs head in shame*. Frankly, I'm blown away by the quality of writing, the detailed description of the era, the romance itself and the steamy scenes.

I admit it took me a while to get into the story but by 25% I was sucked into it, I almost read it in one sitting.

I can't wait for the story of Dominic and Silas.

Shor review is short. But Ele is very happy.

Profile Image for M.
896 reviews106 followers
September 21, 2020
I cannot believe I'm about to say this of a KJ Charles book, but... I was bored. I just was not feeling the chemistry here. Seemed like an awful lot of telling, rather than showing, and the distinct lack of sexual tension and humour was disappointing. It's not a bad book at all. Much better than quite a few historical M/Ms I've read, but just not up to KJ standards. That said, I eagerly await the sequel because it sounds delicious.
Profile Image for Verity.
244 reviews20 followers
November 28, 2015
 photo A fashionable genteman1_zpsu79qa5ub.jpg

Ms Charles is back with a riveting new series about Regency gentlemen, members of the tonne, with a backdrop of political unrest and violence between the upper and lower classes. This book is certainly a historical romance first and foremost, but also a sweet tale of two men finding their place in the world.

Julian, a witty if not jaded dandy with exquisite taste, is tasked with turning Harry, a son of a radical demagogue who had been disinherited by his well-to-do father, into an heir and gentleman fit for London's season. It's all very "My Fair Lady" but with better use of curtained alcoves and sartorial flair that only a dandy can provide.

Julian, much like Pygmalion, carves a new identity for Harry, teaching him how to behave in high society and bettering his chances of snagging an eligible bride. Harry is trapped between the desire for a luxurious lifestyle as a gentleman of leisure and the beliefs his parents had bestowed upon him. Torn between acting on the injustices he witnesses and the need to secure a comfortable life, he struggles to find the best compromise.

This was a 4-4.5 star read for me, but what finally pushed me towards 5 stars were the secondary characters, the Ricardians, who are intriguing in their own right. I cannot wait for the next books in the series and K.J. Charles has introduced the next 2 couples which will be the MC's in the subsequent stories, so masterfully, she's left me panting for more.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review.
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