Unnatural is a typical Joanna Chambers

— feeling smile
Unnatural - Joanna Chambers

Fans of her Enlightenment series will be delighted: Unnatural is a typical Chambers. It’s a mellow, inoffensive romance that thrives on gay taboo fueled UST and guilt, and is set in the Regency era. What’s more, our old friends Balfour and Lauriston make an appearance in this book. They may even be important for the plot!

I feel like prefacing this review by mentioning that I was probably one of the very few people that had a somewhat lukewarm reaction to the Enlightenment series. Although I did enjoy it as the Harlequinesque experience that it was, my perks were the same as with that popular M/F genre: the lack of originality in the story-lines and the bland, inconspicuous characters.

In that regard, Unnatural wasn’t a spectacular read either. But it has angst and longing, sweep-you-off-your-feet love declarations and all that other sweet vanilla fudge with caramel swirls stuff that will warm your heart, and make you root for the haunted heroes.

With the focus entirely on the obstacles that the MCs must overcome to find happiness, not much else is going on plot wise. The pacing is nice and unhurried, and although the story is told through flashbacks – something I’m usually not keen on – the back and forth’s between past and present were handled smoothly and skilfully.

It wasn’t until the 75% mark that I grew slightly tired of the repeated chorus of small bouts of ‘we mustn’t, but the flesh is weak’ released sexual tension resulting in guilt trips and a deepening wedge between the MCs. At times I think Chambers headed into fairy tale territory as well. I have to mind potential spoilers so I will just mention a tiny fragment as example, namely a certain passionate kissing scene in a boathouse that felt a little too mushy given the circumstances.

I had also hoped for more than the recycled ‘M/M dirty talk’ during the sexy bits. Especially considering the historical era, I was more than a little disappointed with the uninspired prose in these scenes. Had I hoped for swollen manhoods and battering rams instead? Not really. What I do wish though, is for Chambers to develop more of a signature style, an uniqueness to her prose, that would make her works stand out. Everything I’ve read of hers so far is pleasant enough, but not particularly memorable.

But like I said, her books are absolutely sweet and enjoyable and Unnatural was no exception to that rule!

PS We haven’t seen the last of Kit Redford. Who agrees?;)