Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan—disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.
And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.
With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.
Subtle Blood is a satisfying end to the Will Darling trilogy of 1920s English spy/romance novels. On the surface, Will and Kim must contend with a Clubland murder—it’s dreadfully scandalous, and the alleged perpetrator claims he has been framed. But of course, nothing is ever simple with Will and Kim, and circumstances force them to intervene.
The plot points come quickly in this book, but there are some lovely interludes where Will and Kim talk about their relationship and what it means, and the language Charles uses is just so lovely, and it made me feel all the feels.
There were several times over the course of the trilogy where I wished we had Kim’s perspective, but understandably, knowing what Kim knows would give away the game, so to speak. In this book, however, I think Kim’s perspective on having to plunge back into the shark infested world of the aristocracy would consist entirely of expletives. Kim is clearly more uncomfortable than Will at having to return to Pater and the manor house world he wants nothing to do with.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the oldest son (and heir) of a duke or marquess has to be an utter snake. We saw it with Maltravers in the Society of Gentlemen series, and now we have Lord Chiltern, who is thoroughly unscrupulous, and well… you’ll have to read for yourself.
And of course, everything that happens connects to The Big Picture, so readers can expect more secrets and subterfuge and double crossing. These elements kept me guessing until the last minute. Once again, Charles’ taut prose made me doubt the possibility of the HEA.
Fans of the series will appreciate the return of Phoebe and Maisie, who serve as excellent counterparts to Will and Kim. Furthermore, fans of some of Charles’ other books will love the inclusion of another Easter Egg—it’s same one as book two, but it’s still exciting when it happens.
I would absolutely recommend Subtle Blood, but I cannot stress enough the importance of reading the series in order. This isn’t one of those series you can pick up in the middle. But for those who have already read the first two books, Subtle Blood is such a nice treat—sometimes it’s a terrifying treat, but it’s a fitting end to the series. I am eagerly awaiting the release of the SB audiobook so I can listen to the whole series from the beginning.
Full disclosure, I received an ARC of this book