There were a couple of things that attracted me to The Kings of Charleston after reading the synopsis. First off, I am a big fan of secret societies in the books I read. I love the mystery, the initiations, all of it. Plus it feels like most secret societies in books and films are either a) totally elitist and snobby (and thus, aching to be trounced in a very public fashion) or b) sinister and foreboding in nature, and usually up to no good. The Kings of Charleston definitely gave me a sinister vibe. And I really wasn't sure if there was a supernatural or paranormal element at work before I started reading, so I was curious about that as well.
And I also liked that this book was set in the south. I'm a Florida girl, and have actually never visited Charleston, South Carolina, but I'm drawn to books with southern settings, be they East Coast, Gulf Coast, or Deep South.
So, basically the story goes like this: Casper Whitley, heir to family fortune built on thoroughbred horse breeding and racing, is completely uprooted and distraught when her family moves her from her beloved Kentucky horse farm to Charleston. Once there, she begins to meet new business associates of her father's, including one very hot guy by the name of Cal (why are guys named Cal in YA book's hot? Has anyone else noticed this trend? I digress...) But something about this new life, and the new people they are surrounded by, just doesn't feel right to Casper. She notices that a painting in her house which bears the inscription Kythera on it is also in Cal's home. What's more, Cal, his family, and some of the other new friends she meets all have black cars with a red "K" marking them. And then there are the tattoos that Cal and some of the others have that also have that strange word Kythera on them. Casper, still reeling from the move, wants to know more but every time she questions someone about Kythera, be it Cal or just a random Charleston local, they clam up and change the subject. Hmmm. Very curious indeed...
I won't go into any more details because part of the fun is trying to figure out what the mystery of Kythera is exactly. But as I was reading I was reminded of John Grisham's book (and adapted film) The Firm. Remember that? Recent law school graduate is courted by a big firm who offer him a ton of money but in the end turn out to not only be extremely shady, but also seek to control every aspect of his life. Like that book, there are quite a few twists and turns and surprising revelations in The Kings of Charleston as well.
I will say that as far as characterization, some of those featured in The Kings of Charleston felt like they could have been better developed. Well fleshed out characters is a big thing for me when I'm reading, and I would have liked more in that regard.
And, as you can surmise from the synopsis, there is definitely a romance at play. The romance was fine in my opinion, but there was insta-love in full effect, something that I'm not a big fan of. And, hate to tell you, but this one does end with a bit of a cliffhanger! (The good news is that the second book is already out!) On the bright side there is no love triangle, so woo hoo for that! :)
In the end I was entertained by The Kings of Charleston and the story that Ms. Clayton crafted. I was hoping for better character development, and more realistic romance, but was pleased with the mysterious secret society plot and southern setting.