May. 1st, 2016

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The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh by K. J. Charles
★★★★☆

I've read this twice now, and had two different reactions to it.

The first time I read The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (back in October 2015, right after it was published), it served as my introduction to the Society of Gentlemen series, and in that light it wasn't particularly memorable; it didn't grab my attention, nor did it make me want to read the rest of the series. I love K. J. Charles, though, so when I'd read my way through the rest of her oeuvre, I started in on the Society of Gentlemen novels, and my interest in and curiosity about the origins of Ash and Francis's relationship was sparked by A Fashionable Indulgence.

Re-reading this story with a more in-depth knowledge of (and affection for) the Ricardians made all the difference in the world, and I found myself really enjoying the additional context and subtle character notes that it added to the series as a whole. It's a lovely backstory piece for readers already familiar with the world of the Society of Gentlemen novels.
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A Fashionable Indulgence by K. J. Charles (Society of Gentlemen #1)
★★★★☆

A great introduction to the Society of Gentlemen series. Harry is an interesting character, layered and complex, and I love the way he and Julius complement one another; they have enough commonalities to get along well, but enough differences to provide a few sparks. While the story is mostly focused on Harry and Julius, the other Ricardians are fully developed, three-dimensional characters, as well, and I look forward to reading more about them in future books.

(I have to admit that this isn't a historical period I know much about, so I got the added bonus of a thorough and fascinating history lesson on the Peterloo massacre.)
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A Seditious Affair by K. J. Charles (Society of Gentlemen #2)
★★★★★

I typically avoid D/s themes in my M/M romance reading, but I love K. J. Charles, and I thoroughly enjoyed A Fashionable Indulgence, so I took a chance and don't regret it in the least.

The romance between Silas and Dominic unfolds gorgeously, with a subtlety I've come to expect from the author, and the portions of the plot that revolve around the Peterloo massacre and its repercussions are complex, tightly woven, and utterly riveting. More than anything, I adore the acknowledgement that two people can be vastly different from one another, hold extremely diverse opinions, and yet still interact with both respect and affection — even while hotly debating sensitive issues.

Despite my initial hesitation because of the D/s elements, I think this has ended up being my favorite book of the series.
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A Gentleman's Position by K. J. Charles (Society of Gentlemen #3)
★★★★☆

My thoughts and feelings are all over the place on this one.

I absolutely adore David's clever plotting to get Ash and the rest of the Ricardians out of trouble, and I'm a huge fan of loathsome people getting their comeuppance, particularly when they're hoist by their own petard, so the romance-adjacent plot made me gleeful.

The romance plot itself.... I'm not entirely sure. I wasn't really invested in Richard and David's relationship, though I don't know that I can put my finger on why. I completely understand both of their perspectives: Richard's problem with a relationship where there's an imbalance of power that could impact his partner's ability to consent, and David's confidence in Richard's good character and his own ability to exercise his free will despite his status as a servant. I was happy with where they ended up but...I guess I wasn't completely convinced by the journey? Or perhaps it's just that they took a different route than I would have, and so it was harder for me to identify with either of them.

I suspect this is one of those books that I'm going to have to think about and pick apart a little before I can put my more complex feelings about it into words. That said, it was still a very enjoyable read — so much so that I ended up staying up all night because I didn't want to put it down.
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