Title: The Gentleman's Book of Vices (Lucky Lovers of London, #1)
Author: Jess Everlee
Publisher: Carina Adores
Release Date: November 29, 2022
Genre(s): M/M Historical
Page Count: 304
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Overall, I found this a very enjoyable read.
However, my favorite character ended up being Charlie's fiance Alma ("the sweet, fun-loving woman he would spend the rest of his life lying to") rather than the two protagonists. And while it's historical, there are quite a few anachronisms (did they use the word "butch" in the 1880's?), oh, and although Miles is the author of "the most buggery-filled book of the age" .... sex scenes are few and far between, usually quickly fade to black.
Miles Montague, aka Reginald Cox, earns wads of cash writing said smut, using the proceeds to poorly and halfheartedly manage his inherited bookstore. Charlie is soon to be married and wants to get Miles' autograph on his favorite Cox book "Immorality Plays ("in which two moralists seclude themselves in a country house to pen a treatise against sin, only to find themselves compelled by dark forces to act out each crime they denounce") prior to settling down in marriage and stowing his beloved porno collection safely away for good.
Charlie frequents The Curious Fox, the London molly house equivalent of Cheers, with quirky characters like Noah Clarke / Miss Penelope Primrose, bartender Warren Bakshi, the proprietor Mr. Forester and Miss Jo, an occasional refuge from the Sapphists' club. The development of the secondary characters is somewhat spotty, with Noah being fairly well fleshed out, and Miss Jo and The Beast remaining (to me at least) somewhat enigmatic.
So, yeah .... good bones ... this book has certainly got them, especially as this is the author's debut book. The author does a good job of setting the scene along with some interesting sentences like this one describing Noah: ""The fellow slipped down off the bar like he was made from liquid and scurried into Charlie's arms. They hugged. They kissed, right on the mouth." And Alma is truly interesting, and not just a throw-away character in the role of the unwanted wife.
The first part of the book works really well, as Charlie meets Miles and they fall into some very interesting situations, but the second half of the book felt too busy and populated with far too many happenstances, odd reveals, with an overly complicated conclusion that may be best summed up as huh? Wait a minute .... huh?
There is a second book coming starring Noah and David Forester, so I do look forward to reading their story, and catching up on Alma, and Charlie and Miles as they all move into the next chapter of their lives. 3.5 stars.
I received an ARC from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.