Sunday, March 5, 2023

Review: The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles
Series: The Doomsday Books, Book 1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Male/Male Historical Romance 
The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen cover
ISBN: 9781728255859
Release Date: March 7, 2023
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Abandoned by his father, Gareth Inglis grew up lonely, prickly, and well-used to disappointment. Still, he longs for a connection. When he meets a charming stranger, he falls head over heels—until everything goes wrong and he's left alone again. Then Gareth's father dies, turning the shabby London clerk into Sir Gareth, with a grand house on the remote Romney Marsh and a family he doesn't know.

The Marsh is another world, a strange, empty place notorious for its ruthless gangs of smugglers. And one of them is dangerously familiar…

Joss Doomsday has run the Doomsday smuggling clan since he was a boy. When the new baronet—his old lover—agrees to testify against Joss's sister, Joss acts fast to stop him. Their reunion is anything but happy, yet after the dust settles, neither can stay away. Soon, all Joss and Gareth want is the chance to be together. But the bleak, bare Marsh holds deadly secrets. And when Gareth finds himself threatened from every side, the gentleman and the smuggler must trust one another not just with their hearts, but with their lives.

After an affair with an anonymous lover ends poorly, a heartbroken Giles Inglis learns of the death of his father. With nothing for him in London, the lonely Giles travels to his new home in Romney Marsh to take up the baronetcy. His new home comes with family members he’s never met and digging through his father’s papers piques his interest in the local habitat. But his new life isn’t all family bonding and beetles for Giles. Romney Marsh’s chief industry is smuggling and the Doomsday family rules. When Giles agrees to give testimony against a captured smuggler, he’s thrown for a loop when he’s thwarted by Joss Doomsday…the lover he can’t get over. The sparks between them are still there, but there’s more at stake now. For Romney Marsh is full of secrets that can get the two men killed.

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is a truly wonderful romance. I adored Giles and Joss from the start and I loved watching the two, one unsure, the other charming, fall in love.

Joss is the head of the Doomsday clan and though he loves his family, the infighting is tearing at him. He’s got pressure on all sides, so many people relying on him, and nothing is left for himself. Nothing except Giles, that is. Giles is lonely and awkward, feeling unwanted and just trying to find his place in the world when he comes across smugglers. Giles broke my heart but I loved seeing him grow, to find joy and a life that made him happy. On the outside, Joss and Giles couldn’t be more different. Joss is the head of a smuggling clan surrounded by family and Giles is a budding naturalist whose been so lonely for most of his life. The two fit like lock and key and I loved watching them lean on each other, be there for one another. It isn’t always easy for them and there are a lot of bumps in the road, but KJ Charles made every up and down worth it for a supremely satisfying happily ever after.

Danger lurks in the background of The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, threatening our heroes. Charles twines mystery, threats, family drama, and more through the story. I won’t spoil what happens because the fun of the book is learning what the heroes must face, but everything winds together perfectly. Charles perfectly blends the action with the quieter, character-driven moments. The result is a wonderfully entertaining story I hated to put down and one I cannot wait to revisit. I loved this story from beginning to end and I’m very much looking forward to the next Doomsday book.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.