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An Unsuitable Heir

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

An Unsuitable Heir (2017) K.J. Charles

Set in London in 1873

Mark is a private enquiry agent. He and his mother came to England, fleeing Poland after his mother got in trouble one too many times for her anarchism. Through the lawyer who often defended his mother, he came to know Clem and the others at the Jack, so he is willing to help Nathaniel search for the missing heir to help keep Clem from being thrown out of his home.

“Gone back off home now to bring down the Empire, trzymajmy kciuki.” He tipped his glass.

“What was that?”

“Polish. Means ‘Let’s keep our fingers crossed.’”

“Did you just drink to the fall of the British Empire?”

“I was brought up in bad ways.”

Pen and Greta Starling (Regret and Repentance Godfrey) have been working as acrobats since they ran away years earlier, when Greta was to have been forced to marry the old man who was head of the religious group their mother joined after running away.

It was working as showmen that Pen truly discovered himself: a person who didn’t always want to be male, but also didn’t necessarily want to be female, but instead wanted only to be himself, whoever that was on any given day.

Which makes him a really really unsuitable heir. I was honestly wondering how on earth things were going to work out, because Pen was completely unsuited to being the heir, but the heir apparent and his son would throw Clem out in a heartbeat, so that obviously would not work at all.

I think this is the first book I’ve read where a main character was trans. Which made it all the more interesting, since his sexuality was very much tied up in how he felt about himself at that time. It also made it impossible for Pen to live happily as the Earl, since his whole life would become a facade he could not maintain.

I also really liked many of the secondary characters, including Mr Hapgood.

“Edmund, Lord Moreton, was married to Emmeline Godfrey. Any son by that lady precedes all other heirs. It must be carefully assessed whether Mr. Pen is such a son.”

“Why are you taking his side?” Desmond demanded. His gnarled hands were tight on his cane. “You work for me!”

“I represent the Moreton estate,” Mr. Hapgood said, very coldly. “I have done so all my life. I do not take sides, Mr. Desmond.”

Also: Clem.

“Desmond’s been trying to throw me out of my house, you see. I keep lodgings, and the lodging house belongs to Moreton, and if he took it away that would be my home and my livelihood gone. Everything I’ve worked for, my future. I’d have to start all over again with nothing. It wouldn’t be pleasant.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he doesn’t want me to exist,” Clem said simply.

Clem is the reason that who becomes the Earl matters so much. Without worry for Clem, you wouldn’t care if Pen walked away from the Earldom. Which of course makes both the mystery and the conclusion far more interesting.

Also: a locked room mystery!

“You can’t get into the house from the moat,” Tim said. “Clem and I never did and we spent summers trying.”

Additionally, I liked the conclusion. As I said, I didn’t see how it was ever going to work out, and then suddenly realized the solution had been there all the time.

It was a nice little series, despite all the boinking, and I enjoyed the characters and the mystery.
Rating: 8/10

Publisher: Loveswept

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery, Romance, Sexual Content     Comments (0)    



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