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Wicked Gentlemen

by Ginn Hale

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5072749,270 (4.03)24
Belimai Sykes is many things: a Prodigal, the descendant of ancient demons, a creature of dark temptations and rare powers. He is also a man with a brutal past and a dangerous addiction.And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders.But Mr. Sykes does not work for free and the price of Belimai's company will cost Captain Harper far more than his reputation.From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life.His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well. Such are the dangers of dealing with the wicked.… (more)
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» See also 24 mentions

English (25)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (27)
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
What a quirky little book! Wicked Gentlemen is a paranormal gaslight fantasy romance set in a grimy, noir Victorian city, where the descendants of repentant demons live marginalized lives in subterranean slums while priest-collared Inquisition police the streets above. The novel follows the adventures, and unlikely romance, of two men from these different worlds.

I adored this setting, which felt much bigger than this one story. And I appreciated the author's sensitive treatment of a world in which paranormal beings are also second-class citizens. Belimai is the product of a reform school which evokes the Indian boarding schools of U.S. history, while Harper is the stepchild of a Prodigal who spent his life "passing" as human. While the book draws on plenty of romance tropes, at their best moments these two characters feel like fully realized people with complex pasts.

Hale's writing is lyrical yet spare; she has a prose style that's a little off-kilter and keeps you on your toes, but on the whole it works. The rhythm of this novel, too, isn't what you would expect. It's not at all a linear adventure story, but I think this works too, and meant the narrative held a lot of surprises.

I think I only have two criticisms - I wish the book had been longer so I could spend more time in this world, and I wish that the antagonists had more screen time. I do not demand a mustache-twirling, destroy-the-city villain, but I think the book would have benefited from better defined stakes and a clearer sense of danger.

Finally, I wanted to give kudos to Blind Eye Books. The editing and printing quality were quite high. Hurrah for small presses! ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
This novel is actually comprised of two novellas (called "books"): the first one is "Mr. Sykes and the Firefly", and the second being "Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle". Apart, the first installment would receive four stars, and the second would get two. I found the first part to be enjoyable as a whole. The author tries to weave a dark, murky city akin to 19th century England and succeeds in most areas. The characters and setting are sumptuous, but the violent parts of the book were too demure for me; they left much to be desired.

The second book started strong, and I greatly enjoyed the first half of it. Unfortunately as the novel progressed, it felt like the author was trying too hard to inject mystique and lavish angst into characters the reader had begun to know. The plots during both books started off strong but became weak over time and were resolved in an almost unsettlingly quick and easy fashion. There were no glaring plot holes, but I felt that the plots of both books could have been woven together into a more cohesive work. I'd like to give Hale's newer work a try, because her writing itself does have promise. She chooses some fascinating things to focus on, and parts of the book did suck me thoroughly into another world. Despite some of the issues I had, it was an overall enjoyable read. I couldn't bring myself to give it more than three stars due to the second novella (book two, the second half of the novel), which was half very interesting and half very boring, losing momentum for the entire novel. ( )
1 vote Hefau | Sep 19, 2019 |
This was a book I was given as a monthly challenge in the m/m romance group. I want to point out that it was well written, the world building was good and the storyline interesting.

The reason I only gave it two stars is purely due to my personal taste. I had trouble with the amount of torture and violence in the book, as well as the cruelty of some of the characters. It did make sense in the context of the story, I just couldn't deal with it. I therefore wasn't able to connect to the characters, which is entirely my problem, not the author's. ( )
  SerenaYates | Oct 19, 2017 |
The most enjoyable and memorable part of the book is its dark, rich worldbuilding. The story takes place in an alternate England built up on twisted Christian imagery, a city incorporating the descendants of Hell’s demons, now called Prodigals, and Inquisitors, policemen mostly associated with torture. The two lead characters are, appropriately, a Prodigal and a (non-torturey) Inquisitor. Through them we get a deep glimpse into this world. Because it’s familiar to them, it seems all the more unfamiliar to the reader, creating a sense of shadow and uncertainty that’s entirely appropriate for the setting.

Full review: https://hannahgivens.wordpress.com/2017/03/21/review-wicked-gentlemen-by-ginn-ha... ( )
  FFortuna | Mar 21, 2017 |
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This book is dedicated to Victor Trevor, because something ought to be.
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The night hung in tatters.
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Belimai Sykes is many things: a Prodigal, the descendant of ancient demons, a creature of dark temptations and rare powers. He is also a man with a brutal past and a dangerous addiction.And Belimai Sykes is the only man Captain William Harper can turn to when faced with a series of grisly murders.But Mr. Sykes does not work for free and the price of Belimai's company will cost Captain Harper far more than his reputation.From the ornate mansions of noblemen, where vivisection and sorcery are hidden beneath a veneer of gold, to the steaming slums of Hells Below, Captain Harper must fight for justice and for his life.His enemies are many and his only ally is a devil he knows too well. Such are the dangers of dealing with the wicked.

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This book is essentially two novellas which share the same main characters but not the same plot. The first, "Mr. Sykes and the Firefly," is told from Belimai Sykes point of view and details his search for the missing sister of William Harper. The second, "Captain Harper and the Sixty Second Circle," is from William Harper's view and focuses on his effort to expose the truth behind a brutal murder.
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