An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles

by - May 14, 2020

An Unnatural Vice by KJ Charles (2017)

An Unnatural Vice is an m/m historical enemies to lovers adult romance with a murder mystery subplot. It's the second book in KJ Charles' Sins of the Cities series. I rated it 4/5 stars.

What is An Unnatural Vice about?

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.
Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.
Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.
But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Possible AO3 tags for this novel:
  • Opposites attract
  • Zealous Gentleman meets Manipulative Criminal
  • All the angry hatesex
  • You're The Only Person I Trust (and I don't usually trust people)
  • Grieving a deceased ex
My review was originally posted on Goodreads here

"I hate what you do, and I kneel at your altar anyway."
KJ Charles has done it again. Two protagonists who loathe each other at first sight? DIVINE. The sizzling chemistry and hatesex? FIRE. 🔥🔥🔥 But that's not everything. I am reeling. It's amazing how two asshole-y men can be capable of so much tenderness. Most of all, I did not expect the complexity. The explorations on death, grieving, pride, and becoming a better person moved me to tears.

Nathaniel and Justin are both so real. Nathaniel is a vicar's privileged son... but he's also an atheist nursing a broken heart. The love of his life died in a freak accident. And now he rallies against Justin, a seer who takes advantage of grieving customers. Meanwhile, Justin managed to raise himself out of poverty with his business. He doesn't care if he's taking advantage of naive gentlefolk.

These two butt heads from the very beginning. They don't hide their utter disdain for each other (even when they're severely attracted). I found that really refreshing! Most of the time in other romance novels, the physical attraction gets in the way of emotional depth. But here, even as Nathaniel and Justin acknowledge their chemistry, they still have to work through their emotions. The sex doesn't automatically cure their past trauma and hatred for each other.

I knew I was already a big fan of this novel when they started to fall in love. Their romance/love for each other didn't cure their past traumas and terrible personalities either. It was something they had to work on for themselves. 

Plus, Nathaniel trying to move on from his deceased boyfriend? Justin realizing he doesn't want to take advantage of other people for a living anymore? My heart was seized.

Sorry, I'm vulnerable rn. I came here for hot men and murder and stayed for the sensation of getting my heart mashed to a pulp.
Speaking of murder... that's the only reason why this is rated 4 stars. KJ Charles excels at romance but falls flat when there's mystery involved. I was bored to death whenever Nathaniel and Justin weren't together lol. This is a series so the overarching mystery isn't solved, but I'm not interested enough in it anyway. Still, a warning: not all questions are answered by the end, although they do get a happy ending.

TL;DR I recommend this to anyone who likes a good historical romance (as long as you can ignore the incomplete murder mystery subplot)

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