- A Summer of Smoke and Sin, by T.J. Nichols
A Summer of Smoke and Sin, by T.J. Nichols
Nathanial Bayard wants nothing more than to find the nobleman creating snuff pornography. If he fails, his career in the recently formed nobility taskforce will be over and as the youngest son he’ll be forced to obey his father and join the church. But a life of celibacy doesn’t appeal. Nathanial has never even kissed another man, fearing for his soul and his reputation.
Jericho Fulbright has never lived a wholesome life. After behavior unbecoming he was discharged from the army and sent home in disgrace. His inventor and nouveau riche father refused to have anything to do with him, so Jericho turned to what he knew best: opium, gambling and sex.
As the owner of the Jericho Rose, a club for gentlemen who like men, he enjoys a certain notoriety. Some would say he has a golden tongue, but the truth is a succubus lives within him feeding on souls. Once he needed her help, now she is a burden that keeps him from getting close to anyone.
After the unfortunate death of a young noble man in Jericho’s bed, Nathanial is sent to investigate. He is scandalized and intrigued by Jericho, but soon realizes that Jericho could be exactly who he needs to help break the snuff case. Together they are drawn into a web of lies that will result in Jericho facing prison unless Nathanial can unmask the real creator of the snuff, a man with rank and privileges that reaches almost to the King.
A Summer of Smoke and Sin is a unique steampunk story about love, justice and self-discovery. It is clever, hot and takes you through a world full of secrets, lies, and deception while navigating a beautiful love story worthy of the perfect ending it was given.
Honestly, it's like one of my favourite authors has read two of my favourite books – the series, Gentleman Demons by Jasper Black and the solo novel, Innocent and Carnality by J. Alan Veerkamp – because, while completely unique and different, A Summer of Smoke and Sin is what would happen if those two books had a book-baby. This would be it. The perfect blend of historical horror and steampunk romance against all the odds.
Was it perfect? No. I'd say my rating is more a 4.5 than an outright 5*, only because there were a lot of editing issues throughout, in my final version from Amazon and I felt that the continual interruptions – newspaper articles, letters/notes from friends/family – could have been more seamlessly introduced to the story. For me, they broke the story up at important intervals, right in the midst of the drama, and took me out of that tension and suspense. Add on the editing issues – wrong words, spelling and punctuation issues – and it wasn't flawless. But, in the end, the story was beautiful, clever and brilliant, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. For that reason, I've rounded up instead of down. This is definitely a story I'll be reading again, and I'll be buying it in paperback, too.
I've been a fan of T.J. Nichols for a very long time, and I've loved everything of theirs that I've read. This book is no exception. Despite the minor flaws, I still fell madly in love with Nathanial and Jericho.
For fans of: paranormal twists, steampunk adventures, and sweeping romances with some drama.
“With the soft click, the heart he'd pieced together after Liang's murder fragmented. It would take more than a demon to put it back together.”