This is a historical romance/mystery series where the main pairings are all men, except for the last one where one of the main characters is nonbinary (although he uses male pronouns). A possible missing Earl pulls a group of friends into the path of a hired killer. Goodreads link here.
Each book has a separate plot but there is a larger, overarching series plot involved. The main characters in each book (Clem, Nathaniel and Mark) are all friends and go to the same pub in London, which is far more LGBTQ+ friendly than other parts of Victorian London. Each book builds on the one before so none of these can standalone, but thankfully all the books are under 300 pages so if you’re looking for a quick series you can get through on a holiday, then this is definitely the right one.
I find this series enjoyable for a number of reasons. Charles’ characters have many unusual jobs that you don’t normally see in historical fiction, especially historical romance novels. Rowley is a taxidermist, Lazarus is a spiritualist and Pen is a trapeze artist. Each book focuses on two different characters and their romance together and it shows – the romance develops differently during each book. It never felt like it was going by rote, it felt far more natural than that.
Charles tackles many forms of diversity in her books. None of it is own voices as far as I can tell, but it was good to see representation in historical fiction books where it would be ordinarily ignored as if it didn’t happen.
This was a fun, enjoyable series and one I would definitely recommend.