Rag and Bone (Rag and Bone #1) by K.J. Charles
If you are someone who likes the idea of Victorian fantasy novels and you are not reading KJ Charles, I feel like you are seriously missing out.
The world is a sprawling version of Victorian London, where magic is a thing that is both real and controversial. There’s, from my count, about eight novels or novellas in this world and the author does a great job on her website of telling you exactly where each falls in the chronology and how they interact. I can also tell from other review sites and blogs that this a beloved series by fans of paranormal romance.
If you are someone who likes the idea of Victorian fantasy novels and you are not reading KJ Charles, I feel like you are seriously missing out. The writing is sharp, the characters are real, the world is extensive and accessible. In this book, the relationship between Ned and Crispin is deep and true and the two men nearly fell off the page. Not only is their sexual chemistry strong, but I can tell their bond is strong as well. This is not a story of two men falling in love, it’s the story of two men who already love each other continually choosing to trust and love despite overwhelming odds. That type of story is not plentiful in the romance market, this what happens after type of story, and so I found it refreshing.
So to sum up: if this is your jam or seems appealing at all, get this book. Honestly, it sounds like you should get the whole series. This one dumps you into the world a bit with no introduction and expects you to know your way around. I have an issue with that as it often drives me nuts that I have no idea what is going on. KJ Charles has built a universe here and it is worth your time to explore it.
Beyond that, this book was simply not for me. I connected strongly to Ned and Crispin - who are not only super compelling characters, but also a super compelling couple. Class divides and race divides (Ned is black and Crispin is white) that could cause friction between them seem to only serve to bond them stronger. Absolutely lovely characters. Could not give a toss about the magic or the social situations the book was set in. Still don’t fully understand the conflict or how it was resolved. The 4 star rating is entirely for Crispin and Ned. Thanks to KJ Charles for these men, I know they’ll stay with me for a while.