Any Old Diamonds is the first book in KJ Charles’ Lilywhite Boys series of Victorian m/m romance novels. I had been looking forward to reading this book after Charles mentioned a “more sociopathic than usual hero”. Good golly, if that’s not a stunning endorsement!
Alec Pyne wants to hire some jewel thieves to steal from the Duke and Duchess of Ilvar. He’s rather cagey about his motivation for this scheme, but the thieves are professional and have done their research. They shock Alec when they tell him that they know he’s Lord Alexander, the duke’s younger son. And then they ask him why he wants to hire them to steal from his parents.
Alec is rather firm in his declaration that the duchess is NOT his mother. There’s clearly a story here, and I shan’t say anything more on that note because it is quite a dreadful tale, filled with schemes and machinations.
Speaking of which- part of this jewel stealing scheme involves striking up a friendship with Jerry, one of the thieves. This is part of a long con- basically, they want to establish that Alec was tricked by his new friend. And this segues into Alec telling Jerry that he just wants someone else to be in control.
And that’s when things really get interesting. Alec cedes all control to Jerry, and the result is absolutely scorching. There is, consent, of course, which is important, but the evolution of their relationship is riveting because I never knew what was going to happen next.
Which brings me back to the main plot- there are secrets that have been mouldering and festering for twenty years, and although there are revelations here and there, it’s impossible to gather a full picture what transpired until the very end.
Everything about this book is amazing. The characterization was brilliant- from the arrogance of the Duke and Duchess of Ilvar to the despondency of Alec’s siblings. The setting is rendered with detail, and everything flows together so nicely.
I would absolutely recommend Any Old Diamonds to fans of m/m romance. This is the first book in a series, but fans of Charles’ other books will appreciate the return of characters from the Sins of the Cities series as well as allusions to the Society of Gentlemen series. This is a compelling story, full of surprises, and I can’t wait to find out what’ll happen next in the series.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.