Rating: 5 stars
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Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis was injured in a military accident, causing knee damage and the loss of three fingers. Or at least, everyone assumed the faulty guns were an accident. But Curtis has reason to suspect that there may have been something more sinister at play, a deliberate sabotage that left him permanently injured and many of his comrades dead. Curtis is headed to a house party in the country, determined to investigate the suspected wrongdoing.
While there Curtis meets Daniel da Silva, a man he hates pretty much on sight. Daniel is not only clearly gay, but also foreign and Jewish. Not to mention just so obvious about it all. Curtis is a military man used to taking action and speaking plainly, and he just doesn’t quite know what to make of Daniel. There is much more to Daniel than meets the eye, however. It turns out that Daniel is at the house to do a little investigation of his own, and both men might be able to meet their goals more efficiently by working together.
As Daniel and Curtis begin to delve more deeply into the members of the house party, Curtis finds his eyes opening to the kind of man Daniel really is. In fact, he finds himself attracted to Daniel in ways he never expected, ways that make him wish for a future that might include Daniel in it. But as the men investigate, they discover more and more treachery. There is spying, lying, blackmail, and attempted murder going on in the modern country house, and the closer they get to the culprits, the more their lives are at risk.
Oh, once again author K.J. Charles has created such a fabulous story with Think of England. I feared nothing would approach her Magpie series, which I totally adore, and I am happy to say I loved this one just as much.
This book is somewhat unusual among British historicals in that it is set just after the turn of the century. This is a time when there were cars, light bulbs, phones, and cameras. The country is approaching the more modern age with many of its conveniences, but at the same time still has some of the more traditional elements, with the country house parties, chaperoned ladies, and rules of society. It is also a time where the superiority of the white and wealthy is presumed and where being different is still cause for alarm. We see such casual racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, with slurs tossed around as if they were nothing. I love how Charles plays with these ideas, especially in the relationship between Daniel and Curtis. When the men first meet, Curtis doesn’t like Daniel, mostly for these superficial reasons. Even as they get to know each other well, becoming friends and even lovers, these ideas are still so ingrained in Curtis that they are hard to drop. It takes some time for him to realize the errors in his attitude and to understand the faults in his behavior, and it is lovely to see him grow over the course of the story.
I really loved these two guys as a pair. Charles writes with such wit and cleverness, I loved watching the two of them interact. Curtis is a military man, a strong, hulking blond of Viking descent. He has spent years living the regimented life of the military, and before that as the nephew of two wealthy and powerful men. He is used to society rules and benefits from them in many ways. Curtis is straightforward and noble, but also a man of action from his years in the service. Daniel, on the other hand, is a man of words and ideas, a poet with a sharp tongue. He is dark, agile, graceful, and clever, able to take on whatever airs are necessary to play a role. He gets by on his wits and the fact that he doesn’t care whether he is a gentleman. Daniel is used to people hating him for so very many reasons that it gives him the freedom not to care at all what people are thinking. But at the same time, he has had his heart broken and he is determined to protect it, even from Curtis.
When circumstances jump start a sexual encounter between the men, Curtis’ first reaction is horror. He has never even considered he might be gay, despite his lack of interest in women. Curtis spent all his years in boarding schools and colleges with only boys, entering the military where he spent all his time with other men. And while he has had many “men have needs” type encounters with other men, it never even occurs to him that means he is gay. Charles really does a wonderful job showing Curtis’ progression throughout the story, from someone who is judgmental and somewhat closed off, to someone open minded who embraces who he is and what he wants. It is a hard road for him, and very rewarding to see his success.
Along with the developing relationship between Daniel and Curtis, the story also focuses on the fabulous suspense plot. I don’t want to give away too many details for fear of spoiling the excitement, but both our heroes find themselves investigating the home owners and party goers. What turns up is so much more than either of the expected. The story is fast-paced, thrilling, terrifying, and at times horrifying. Charles writes such amazingly intense action scenes that left me frantically reading to find out how it would all unfold and whether our heroes could make it out of it all alive. It is all incredibly exciting and excellently done.
So another fabulous story from K.J. Charles. I have totally fallen in love with Curtis and Daniel and was thrilled to hear Charles plans more for them. Excellent story and very highly recommended.