Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles
Released: January 9, 2017
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “You don’t give an inch, do you?”
“I just took at least eight,” Theo pointed out.
I really need to go back and read KJ Charles’s backlist – as I’ve only read a couple by her and what I have read I’ve really enjoyed. In this book she gives us a more serious stoic hero paired with a wily, cocky hero – and the pairing really worked for me.
Theo makes a living by collecting advertisements to run in the paper for those people looking for a wife, husband or just love in general. For example:
Wanted, a Gentleman. A lively and engaging Lady who finds herself in Distressing Circumstances due to her too liberal Heart seeks a Gentleman whose Kindness will be well rewarded by all the Happiness and Beauty, Congeniality, and Youth may confer.
It’s all anonymous, many times these people leaving the ads at the local tavern for Theo to pick up. Sometimes Theo gets ads that he probably shouldn’t run – let’s say a slyly worded ad for a man seeking a man – but since Theo does enjoy men…and money, he runs them, feigning ignorance if anyone comes around with a complaint. Theo is thin and always has ink stains on himself. He is a little on the weasly side and is scrappy.
Martin is a former slave whose owners freed him when he turned eighteen and he has remained friends with the family since then. He is now an investor, respected by his fellow businessmen. He was loved growing up, working in their house and befriending their daughter. He knew he had it good as a slave, since this family also owns sugar cane fields and the slaves that work those are not treated well at all. He also knows, that yes he was treated well – but still owned. Still not free the first eighteen years of his life. This is a great conflict within him – how he can still be friends with the people who enslaved him.
“I was always well treated,” Martin said again. “I could so easily not have been. I know how my life might have played out. There was a time, during the revolution in France, when Mr. Conroy’s business went through difficulties, and it seemed he might find it necessary to sell me—”
“Sweet King Jesus.”
“But he didn’t. Instead I was kept in the household, and freed on such generous terms that I have been able to prosper ever since, and how can I resent that?”
“That sounds to me the kind of generosity that could kill a man.”
Martin let his head thud back against the leather rest. “It is. It sticks in my throat like thistles, it chokes me.” His hand was at his throat, he realised, that old habitual gesture. He let it drop and repeated, quietly, “It chokes me.”
“Do you know how much the Conroys gave me as a gift? A hundred pounds. That was Mr. Conroy’s estimate of what I would fetch at the auction block.”
“Christ Jesus fuck,” Swann said. “Fuck them both and their brat. Let’s leave her to her sluttery and go home.”
This family has realized their daughter has run off with an unknown man – most likely heading to Gretna Green to get married without their permission. Martin learns that Jenny and her anonymous lover, were communicating with each other by posting advertisements in the paper – which leads Martin to Theo, demanding information as to who this anonymous lover is. Theo has no idea, but after reading through their printed correspondence, he realizes they write in code and they are for sure headed to Scotland to get married.
Martin offers to pay Theo to come with him, to find Jenny and bring her back to her family. Theo agrees and off they go. Along the way, their attraction to each other comes out and naughty things happen in a carriage.
Initially I wasn’t sure how this pair would go together, as Martin seems so much more mature than Theo – I didn’t see how Theo could take a romantic relationship seriously, but after a while these two definitely fit together. Theo is able to listen to Martin, and understand his personal fears and thoughts and give a nice, steady shoulder. Theo is the first to come to Martin’s defense if someone looks at Martin for only the color of his skin. Theo knows how to put a smile on Martin’s face, which made me smile.
Theo also writes romance books under a female name, books that Martin reads too. This whole scenario made me smile, as Martin loves Theo’s villains but he thinks he definitely needs work on some of the other characters. The way Theo plots his villainous books plays into how the try to find Jenny – which is cute.
Did I mention there is sex in a carriage too?
“What are you doing?” Martin demanded, although it was quite evident what he was doing. “Theo, for God’s sake!”
Theo nudged his legs apart and settled between them, hands sliding up Martin’s thighs. “Enlivening the journey?”
“On this road?” Martin demanded, as the chaise bumped. “If we go over a pothole you’ll bite it off!”
“Give me a little credit.”