A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Band Sinister by KJ Charles


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Apparently Georgette Heyer’s work was the author’s inspiration for this book. So, first and foremost, I am embarrassed to say I had no idea who Georgette Heyer was. Agatha Christie? Yes. Georgette Heyer? Nope. So, though some reviewers may cite how wonderful the connection is, this one is clueless.

Was this typical KJ Charles? No. Not at all—nary a body to be found. But lots of loving, a band of gregarious rakes who call themselves the Murder, a sweet, innocent, virginal man with a mischief-making sister who breaks her leg and lands among the rakes—this one has so much more. A body simply wasn’t needed.

Sir Philip Rookwood inherited his estate when his older brother died suddenly after running off with the wife of the Frisby family who lived nearby. The problem to most who knew the Rookwoods is that Philip is the black sheep of the family—the illegitimate son who runs with a crowd of young men, many of whom are outrageous in their personality and their dress.  Philip is no doubt thought of as the same since he calls his group “the Murder.”  We find out this is deliberate since his friend Corvin’s name means crow, and between Philip’s “rook” and their friend John Raven, they form a murder of crows.  These three have been together since their boarding school years when all Philip had were his best friends and Corvin’s family who welcomed him as one of their own.

Guy Frisby and his sister, Amanda, have continued to live in the village for years after their mother brought scandal to them simply because their father gambled away their funds before he died. Their mother’s aunt gave them enough money to stay quietly in the country away from society where their soiled reputation won’t affect her daughters’ chances of making a good match.

Amanda reveals to Guy that she’s authored a scandalous book, Darkdown, featuring Sir Peter Falconwood and his dastardly friends. She admits she based it on rumors about Sir Philip and the men with him, and Guy is mortified. Then when Amanda’s horse throws her on Sir Philip’s land and she has to recuperate at his mansion, Guy vows he won’t leave her side so her reputation remains safe, or as safe as it can be given their history. Once there he meets Philip and his friends and realizes just how much trouble he’s in when he can’t take his eyes from the notorious rake.

As the days go on, Guy learns there’s more about Philip than anyone knows.  Aside from being serious about cultivating sugar from beetroot to help his tenant farmers, he’s caring, kind, sweet, and dangerous for Guy’s cravings for men. He’s never acted on his feelings, but his resistance is nil where Philip is concerned and the attraction is mutual. Being thrown together away from the eyes of the rumor mill gives them the opportunity to know each other in carnal ways and the author takes us to a time of innocence and surrender with a light-hearted twist to the romance. One of my favorite scenes is when Guy has his first fellatio experience and realizes the fluid is similar to oysters and he definitely doesn’t like oysters.

While Guy and Philip are occupied, Amanda is still healing from her broken leg and she and her doctor, another of Philip’s friends, are becoming closer. She’s also revealed that she authored Darkdown, the scandalous novel which delights Philip’s friends, especially Corvin, who sees himself in a promiscuous character and spreads the word to his London friends that this is a book that must be read. Things progress nicely until the bubble bursts and Guy and Amanda’s aunt and uncle arrive to lay down the law and break up the events at the mansion. 

A must read, this is KJ Charles’s lightest romance to date and she’s captured the sweet innocence of Guy Frisby perfectly. She’s also built intriguing character sketches of Philip’s other friends so I certainly hope we get to see them in their own books in the future.  Very highly recommended and not to be missed. 

Cover art is charming and works perfectly for this novel.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Expected publication: October 11th 2018 by KJC Books
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Mika Review: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles


Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

The Secret Casebook of Simon Fleximal coverA note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

I can’t believe I’m saying this I like it, but didn’t love The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles as much as I normally do her  stories. I did not feel like the two mc’s were connected enough for me. I liked some of the stories, some were clever to read about, and a few had me re-reading the sentences to make sure I was reading them right. I’m pretty sure I was confused about the Pieball story, as well as the Priest story. I got it, but all the words in my head were not making sense at all.

As usual K.J. Charles has some memorable characters. I love reading her books, she gets the time frame, setting, and linguistics down packed every time. I liked the anthology style writing that was presented. We have Robert Caldwell who decided to write a short book in the 1900’s based on his experience with Simon Feximal the ghost hunter extraordinaire. From that first meeting to their presumed death was illustrated. It brought forth the introduction of numerous characters, some stand outs like The Fat Man<–*Swooning, Mycroft Holmes is the S***, the Diogenes Club, Miss Kay, Mr. Silence, and the utterly disgusting Mr. Park, and Dr. Berry.

I thought the cast was good, and some of the stories were scary. This is classified as romance and I felt like the relationship between Simon & Robert was nowhere to be found. I was underwhelmed with them. I don’t know if it was the nonexistent communication or the lack of love, but I was not into them like I found myself with her other characters from previous novels. Of course I’ll continue to read Charles’s writing, one not so good book does not disqualify her from being one of my favorite authors writing one of my favorite genres.

Cover Art by Kanaxa: I thought the cover is fitting. It’s the beginning between the two mc’s. The mirror is an important factor to Simon, as the house is important to Robert. I liked the cover; it definitely keeps up with the book setting as well.

Sales Links:Samhain Publishing All Romance (ARe)  ♦ Amazon   ♦Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 224 pages
Published June 16th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal

The Caldwell Ghost and Butterflies are previously published short stories. The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal continues and completes Robert Caldwell and Simon Feximal’s story with primarily new material.

Product Warnings
Contains a foul-tempered Victorian ghost-hunter, a journalist who’s too curious for his own good, villainy, horror, butterflies, unusual body modifications, and a lot of tampering with the occult.