I love Victorian historical novels and boy did I love this one. Everything felt real and as I imagine life was back in the 1800’s. The author paints a vivid picture of life on the streets of renters (rent boys) and other street workers. He vividly paints the fog and smog that envelopes the street of heavy industry. And the luxury of the aristocrats with they velvet curtains and plush furnishings. But it is not just the visual picture he paints. The smells are also perfectly described and add to your senses.
Archer is a young Viscount Clearwater. Recently given the title and his fathers estate. Archer wants to change things; he sees the wrongs of the class society. He firmly believes that he was simply lucky to be born on the right side of the class divide, and he could as easily have been born by pure parents. He could be the one having to sell his body to feed himself, putting himself at great risk of disease and the terrors of street life.
Silas is a renter who sells his body for sex, to be able to feed himself and if he is lucky to have somewhere to lay his head at night. Living on the filthy streets is hard and yet he keeps going with the help of his friend Fecker a Ukrainian renter. The banter between the two is superb. Fecker’s act first think later attitude is funny at times, especially when the boys meet with Archer.
There are two other characters that also stand out, The Footman Thomas who has loved the Viscount all his life and would be his best friend if they were from the same class. Archer manages to make that happen at least in private and they confide in each other.
The old butler is the other minor character who stands out, he cannot adjust to his new master’s ways and finds it undignified that his Master is bringing street boys to the mansion. It is fun watching the subtle fights between the butler and Archer.
The main plot revolves around the Ripper murders that is happening to rent boys. Archer believes the murderer could be his mad brother who has been in a mental asylum for years. Wanting to stop his brother and not see him hang, after all it is his brother. He tries to find and lure his brother into a trap with the help of Silas and Fecker and of course his trusted footman, much to the butler’s horror.
There is a instant spark between Archer and Silas, and its interesting seeing them work their way through what divides them and find common ground, and find ways around the rules of upper society.
This is a thrilling read with a few twists and turns along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and will be reading book two very soon to catch up with the characters.