A Rulebook for Restless Rogues
A Victorian Romance
by Jess Everlee
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Pub Date 11 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 10 Aug 2023
Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin), Carina Adores
David Forester and Noah Clarke have been best friends since boarding school. All grown up now, clever, eccentric Noah is Savile Row’s most promising young tailor, while former socialite David runs an underground queer club, The Curious Fox.
Nothing makes David happier than to keep the incense lit, the pianist playing and all his people comfortable, happy and safe until they stumble out into the dawn. But when the unscrupulous baron who owns the Fox moves to close it, David’s world comes crashing down.
Noah’s never feared a little high-stakes gambling, but as he risks his own career in hopes of helping David, he realizes two things:
One: David has not been honest about how he ended up at The Curious Fox in the first place.
Two: Noah’s feelings for David have become far more than friendly.
What future lies beyond those first furtive kisses? Noah and David can hardly wait to find out…if they can untangle David from his web of deception without losing everything Noah has worked for.
Lucky Lovers of London
Book 1: The Gentleman's Book of Vices
Book 2: A Rulebook for Restless Rogues
A Note From the Publisher
**From author Jess Everlee:** The emotional well-being of my readers is important to me. If you would like to see specific content warnings before you dive in, please visit www.jesseverlee.com/cw.
STARRED Publishers Weekly review:
- “Everlee’s fabulous second Lucky Lovers of London Victorian romance (after The Gentleman’s Book of Vices) takes the series to new heights.”
- “Most refreshing is Everlee’s commitment to portraying gender fluidity in her characters—several of whom are drag queens—which not only make the characters themselves satisfyingly complex and endearing but also makes the sex scenes more interesting and intense.”
- “Equally sweet and steamy, this will delight Everlee’s fans while enticing many new ones.”
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 138 members
4.75 ⭐️ Excuse me while I wipe away my tears and pick my heart up from the floor.
This book was an absolute delight to read, but also the most tension and angst my heart could possibly be able to take in one day. I couldn’t put the book down, but I also couldn’t keep on reading during some parts, because I was getting so incredibly frustrated at the state of these two!
A Rulebook for Restless Rogues explores the history and connection between David Forester -the proprietor of The Curious Fox, our most beloved club from The Gentleman’s Book of Vices- and Noah Clarke, a well sought out tailor by day, who we’ve come to know as the Queen of Cards herself, Miss Penelope Primrose, at night.
To say I was excited to finally read this book, where we get these two together with their very own best-friends-to-lovers story, would be an understatement. I just knew I wouldn’t been able to focus on anything until I read the entirety of the book, so I basically read the whole thing in one sitting… And it was so worth it! I’m so in love with the world and characters Jess Everlee creates in these books. This second instalment was everything I had hoped for and more. I’m personally not the biggest fan of the “friends-to-lovers” trope, but here it just made perfect sense. It kept every bit of angsty touch feeling like a ticking time-bomb of emotion. I’ve teared up throughout every revelation in this book, fearing for the lives and wellbeing of the characters that have come to mean so much; I’ve tried to hold back weepy smiles at every sappy, emotionally charged moment where jokes gave way to feelings. So yes… I really wasn’t lying when I said I was wiping away tears here.
The exploration of gender, love, relationships, and sexuality in this book has me in such a chokehold. I would love to know how Noah would identify himself if were able to have the options we have today -the vernacular we have nowadays- when it comes to his exploration of drag and femininity. The obviousness of how David owns his bisexuality was a breath of fresh air whilst also bringing forth such a comforting sense of fluidity that, realistically, I doubt would’ve been able to exist in the 1880s -as much as I truly wish to be wrong in that regard. Reading queer stories set in a time where imprisonment and death would’ve been likely outcomes for these main characters always makes me incredibly heartbroken, as I think of how many people were robbed of the chance of a full life just because they didn’t hide their true selves well enough. Which is exactly why I believe books like this to be so necessary. Even if this is ultimately a fictional story, the pain, fear, and sentiment behind it is very real to this day. It is truly surprising just how much homophobia and transphobia continues to run rampant in our society, almost a quarter into the 21st century. Change is slow coming and built on hundreds of years and lives lost. It’s a fight we continue to fight and one we endeavour to win, especially when we get books like this. Hopeful books that paint queer love stories in the most beautiful light.
If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I’d recommend you do so immediately. And although this book can be read as a stand-alone, I’d suggest for them to be read in order, as there are several scenes where we meet and interact with the protagonists from book #1 - Miles and Charlie! Those two stole my heart in The Gentleman’s Book of Vices and I’ve been trying to get it back since.
Overall, this was one my most anticipated reads for 2023 and I can 100% say that it did not disappoint! I’m so in love with this series, I can’t wait to see where it goes!
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 / 5
🌶️🌶️ / 5
*Thank you so, so much Net Galley and Carina Press for the wonderful eARC!*
I will be uploading this review on Goodreads, and I'll check in again closer to the publishing date!
4.5/5 stars! This is the second book by author Jess Everlee and I am here for this queer romance. This story was sweet and read like a perfect regency romance tale. I found myself a little more drawn to Noah than David, but that was just because Noah was a total cinnamon roll character, and those are my favorite since I'm an old grump. This is such a fun read. Will definitely be going back to read the first book in this series.
I received an advance review copy for free through NetGalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
I really enjoyed reading this book by Jess Everlee. I'm a huge fan of historical romance novels and thought this was well-written and enjoyable.
4.5! This was such a fun read! I read this book without reading the other book in the series, so if you pick up this book first- go for it! I’m generally not a fan of any type of historical fiction but I loved how the setting moved this story along. If you’re in a reading slump and want something fun and sweet that will fill you with hope and love, this is the book to pick up. I definitely didn’t doubt the characters’ feelings for each other and I’m satisfied with the way their relationship progressed. I was glad to see drag as something completely normalized that something people simply like to do! It was a breath of fresh air and I would definitely recommend this!
Love the fact that there was gay representation in a different time period showing that the LGBTQIA community has been around for a long time and that their love stories need to be told and cherished like every one else. Was a five star read.
This is the sequel to The Gentlemen’s Book of Vices (Fear not those with commitment anxiety, they are both totally readable as stand-alone novels!) and honestly, I preferred this one over the first (the first was fantastic as well, but something about these two oblivious dorks is *chef’s kiss*)
The dynamic of our two love interests, Noah (Who is sometimes Miss Penelope) and David is electric and also wonderfully tender. I adore friends to lovers and even more so when there is angst and pining and let me tell you, this book served me the perfect amount of both. I was so overwhelmed with the chemistry and cuteness of these two that I couldn't physically sit still. Beyond them as a couple, each character had their own journey to go on that helped them both feel multidimensional and real as individuals - this may sound like a basic thing to note, but their struggles were just so well conceptualized for each of them that it played an integral role in endearing me to these two and maximizing how much I enjoyed watching them come together.
Everlee’s writing improved greatly with this sophomore novel and that shined for me the most in the individuality of these characters. I really could hear the voice of each distinctly through the writing style and had no need for chapter headers saying who’s POV I was in - they both were so unique I never struggled with who was on the stage.
Honestly I could go on for longer (I really REALLY enjoyed these characters) but to sum it up, if you like friends to lovers that almost were but tragically were not followed by pining and a whole lot of SOFT - then I recommend giving this a read.
Special thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press & Carina Adores (Harlequin) for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
this was a great sequel in the Lucky Lovers of London series, it had what I enjoyed about The Gentleman's Book of Vices. It was a great story and it worked well in the historical genre. I was invested in the romance going on in the book, I loved the cover and thought it worked well as a picture into the story. I enjoyed what Jess Everlee wrote and can't wait to read more from them.
"Noah hesitated for just a second. Should he reach out and tie the loose ends off now, or ask David to take the sweater off first? Neither seemed…quite right at the moment. He shook the curious conflict off and reached out, bringing David’s wrist closer to his face, still lying flat on the grass. He dug around in the yarn to find the broken threads, tying them in a careful knot to tide things over. “That’s a temporary tourniquet. Don’t fuss with it, and I’ll get it done right tomorrow. Knits are tricky, I’ll have to do it in the daylight.”
In the standalone sequel to The Gentleman's Book of Vices, we return to The Curious Fox, with the narrative focus now on the proprietor David and his old friend Noah. I really love those series that take a group of loveable characters and shift the core pairing focus for each book. One of the strengths of the first book in the series was the atmosphere and warmth of The Curious Fox, not only in how it's described but also the emphasis on providing a place of safety, friendship and more that David was adamant to give to Charlie and Miles in TGBOV. Here that motivation is front and centre, as his beloved club is at risk of being shut down by an unscrupulous landlord. There's high angst as the relationship between David and Noah blossoms from friendship to more, and an emotive kind of desperation in the chemistry between the two leads. While I personally related to/enjoyed the relationship between Charlie and Miles more than the relationship focus in this book, what stands out to me is the enormity of feeling, which manages to avoid the melodramatic while sustaining an incredibly strong, passionate drive.
I am grateful to have received an ARC of this book from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Davy and Noah truly are a pair of restless rogues! The duo and their friends (including a suspiciously quiet valet) absolutely capture the best elements of found family. I enjoyed returning to the Curious Fox and learning so much more about its proprietor, David. Noah, however stole the show in this story for me - he is bold, kind, funny, and brave. We recommend this one if you enjoy a friends to lovers moment, larger than life characters, and a perfect ending.
In this sweet Victorian romance, David and Noah are childhood friends from their days at a dysfunctional boarding school who now continue their friendship as members of London's queer nightlife. David, whose family's fortune took a downturn, has been making it work managing the local queer club, the Furious Fox for an aloof member of the gentry. Noah, who sunk beneath his family's expectations when he refused to become a doctor (so relatable) is a successful London menswear tailor who wears his own fantastical dresses as his alter ego, Miss Penelope. When financial trouble threatens their community at the Furious Fox, David and Noah are thrust on an adventure (featuring dapper lesbians) and might discover that their childhood romance isn't over yet...
Ah, this book hit me right in my favorite trope, childhood friends to lovers! And a main character who is a tailor! I think the way the writer wrote about Noah's relationship to drag and gender was really refreshing. I loved how these two friends supported each other even when they questioned their romantic and sexual connection. I loved the themes of found family! Definitely recommend this for a cozy afternoon.
Thanks for the ARC!
I really enjoyed the first book in the Lucky Lovers of London series and I also love the friends-to-lovers trope, so I was very excited to pick this book up. I'm happy to say that it fulfilled my expectations. The setting of the story was well incorporated into the plot, both main leads felt fleshed-out and their struggles were relatable, and the build-up of their relationship was perfect. I look forward to more stories in this world. A very enjoyable historical romance.
I. Loved. This. Book.
Told with flashbacks and dual perspectives, A Rulebook for Restless Rogues explores themes of gender and sexuality through the friends-to-lovers story of David and Noah, two of my favorite minor characters from Everlee's previous novel, The Gentleman's Book of Vices. For me, the key to success with this trope is a believable and unassailable friendship, and this narrative definitely delivers in that regard. The plot and character development were so well paced; they definitely leant believability to the depth of the MCs' longstanding best-friendship and quiet, mutual pining. I loved watching Noah's growth into a man who could finally articulate his needs, and David's into a man vulnerable enough to step out of the 'protector' role long enough to allow himself some protection.
After such a positive reading experience with her first two titles, I am excited to read more from Jess Everlee. I love the historical period she is currently highlighting, and I deeply appreciate how she consistently indicates the danger her queer characters are in without ever letting that danger tip the novel out of the romance genre. That seems a razor's edge to balance upon, and Everlee manages it flawlessly.