I backed into Charles by way of several of Con Riley’s free holiday stories. Each offered glimpses into this now established couple’s lives and most intimate moments.
The first revolves around a foster child that had been returned to them numerous times. It’s a beautiful story about a imperfectly perfect baby and a couple who loves deeply. Yes I was sniffing. It was the most current one in their lives.
The next backtracked and again it spoke with great emotion and quiet depth to their strengths , endurance, and love with an eye towards their beginnings to know they would never be separated from each other. Such a remarkable journey for a short tale.
By then, I was enthralled. And absolutely shocked at myself. Because I had to go back to find out how Charles and Hugo had found one another but also how Riley was able, in two such memorable stories, create a couple that included a vicar (and by extension a religious aspect) that would make me feel like reading the book.
That’s normally not something I would do.
Charles exceeded all my expectations, and overcame all my doubts that it wouldn’t live up to those glimpses of the future Charles and Hugo yet to come. I’m so thrilled that I have found this.
It’s not often I come across a book that contains both characters and a storyline that settles deep within your heart and mind. One that thought provoking but also makes you laugh . One who’s multilayered storylines continues with its complexity to pull all sorts of thoughts and emotions out of you as the story moves forward and the couple reveals more of themselves twining into the relationship.
Each location, especially the boarding school of Glynn Harber, a brilliantly described and created foundation for most of this story, jumps off the page with its own history and energy. We get to know and love the staff and especially the children who are so real it hurts when their personalities and issues are at the forefront for Charles and Hugo to navigate.
The element of religion was the one I was most skeptical of. I’m not a religious person. But here the author with her two person perspective gives voice to those of us who aren’t believers. That would be Charles. Wonderful, dyslexic Charles. And yea, dyslexia plays a huge part in Charles’ history. The person who is the most religious is Hugo. Hugo aka His Holy Hotness, is not quite a vicar, although if you’ve read those stories, you know he does achieve it in the future. The journey for Hugo , and Charles (no, Charles stays a non believer in the most charitable and charming way) is written in a moving and thoughtful manner. I understood it and I was overjoyed for Hugo. His faith is fundamental to his character and you believe in him for it.
The two of them together have to be one of the most beautiful and unique couples I read about in contemporary romance. As well as one of my favorite.
I’m highly recommending this. The following stories. And yes, track down those free holiday shorts. One was on Riley’s newsletter. It’s a must read.
Learning to Love series:
✓ Charles #1
◦ Sol #2
◦ Luke #3
◦ Austin #4
✓ Heppel Ever After #5
Opposites attract in this low-angst romance filled with British snark and humour.
Life should be a breeze for a playboy like Charles Heppel. As the third son of an earl, he lives for the moment, partying and playing. Settling down isn’t for him. Not when London is full of beautiful men who he hasn’t one-and-done yet.
To escape his family’s nagging, Charles applies for a temp job that matches his playful skill set. A role in a Cornish classroom could be his until the summer, if Charles meets two conditions: he must move in with the headmaster’s best friend, and teach him to be happy.
Living with Hugo should be awkward. Charles is a free spirit, but Hugo’s a man of faith, with morals. A man who almost took holy orders before disaster changed his direction. Only far from being a chore, Charles finds that making Hugo happy soon becomes his passion.
Together, they share physical and emotional first times. Ones that change Charles, touching his soul. He wants Hugo for longer than they have left, but learning to love with his heart, not just his body, will take a leap of faith from Charles — in himself as well as Hugo.
New from Con Riley, Charles: Learning to Love is the first novel in a series based at Glynn Harber, a very special boarding school set in England’s glorious Cornwall.
♥ This shared-world series starts with Charles and Hugo, but each book follows a different couple in their own standalone novel, with a fulfilling happily ever after. Want to hear more from Charles? He stole the show in His Haven. ♥
Charles plays a huge part in Keir’s romantic journey in His Haven: A His Contemporary MM Romance Novelby Con Riley.