Title: The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Length: 353 Pages
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is a story of daring and courage in the face of fear, including when it means falling in love. Especially when it means falling in love. For fans of this author, fans of superlative Historical Romance, this book is a must-read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: 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.
Review: “It’s a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight” has a long history of truth to it. Joss Doomsday and his clan feel no particular loyalty to king and crown. The Doomsdays do what they must to survive, and they do it on their own terms—even if it means bartering with the enemy. They take care of themselves and their own on Romney Marsh. That the rich also happen to benefit from their smuggling merely keeps the wheels of commerce greased.
Sir Gareth Inglis is outmarsh. He’s a stranger in a strange land in more ways than one. His father’s rejection and years of living in London with an uncle who didn’t want him and a cousin who bullied him have left their mark on him. His father’s recent death and the unexpected inheritance that came with it brings Gareth to the Marsh in search of answers to a number of questions. It’s here that he will learn what it means to be a part of something, somewhere, and to find a place he’s wanted. His true inheritance is priceless.
The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is transportive historical fiction and quintessential KJ Charles. The sense of time and place are gorgeously illustrated, at times bucolic, idyllic, while at others depicting the dangers and pitfalls of a being an outsider on close-knit turf. This book is dazzling, from the moment Gareth and Joss meet, using aliases, to the moment they part and then are reunited under bitterly divisive circumstances. This is a story about Gareth learning and, more crucially, earning his place as a Marshman. It’s a story about them both learning what it means to lean on and trust someone, and to be leaned on and trusted.
There is a robust cast of characters who give the story a flavor unique to its setting. Every scene is enriched by the people portraying it. Even those who are less than pleasant, sometimes especially them. What’s a good hero’s journey without a few villains along the way, after all? The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is a story of daring and courage in the face of fear, including when it means falling in love. Especially when it means falling in love.
For fans of this author, fans of superlative Historical Romance, this book is a must-read.
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