Bridgerton meets Poldark in this sweeping Regency romance of smugglers, adventure, mystery, and life-changing love from celebrated author KJ Charles.
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 man in a London molly house, 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.
I have been a fan of KJ Charles for several years, so I was very excited about the opportunity to read her first traditionally published novel.
I was hooked from the very beginning. I suppose you could call this a second chance romance, as Gareth and Joss first meet in London, where they spend a week hooking up. But then Joss has to return to Kent and Gareth, who values his privacy and anonymity—they know each other as London and Kent—declines to share his contact information with Joss.
When the two men meet again, Gareth has inherited his estranged father’s baronetcy on Romney Marsh and Joss is the head of a formidable smuggling clan. Despite their close proximity, the wide chasm between social classes leaves few reasons for why the two men should interact. Yet life in the marsh is different from “outmarsh”, as Gareth quickly learns.
This is also a tale of found family: Gareth was sent to live with his uncle as a boy, and never felt as though he belonged anywhere. At first, he doesn’t know what to make of the Doomsday Clan and their fierce loyalty to each other, but as he experiences the danger the marsh holds, he appreciates that said loyalty extends to his family.
Gareth and Joss have great chemistry, and despite the looming threat and that aforementioned danger, they manage to spend time together, making up for the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their first parting. But even more important than the chemistry is the banter. Those two have some of the best banter and this book had me smiling just as often as biting my nails.
Longtime fans of KJ Charles’ previous books will appreciate that this book contains one of the best setdowns since Maltravers was put in his place. I can’t give any details, but wow, you’re going to love it.
I would absolutely recommend The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen. If you’ve never read one of KJ Charles’ novels, this is an excellent place to start. And if you’ve read every single book in Charles’ back catalog, you’re going to love this newest book. I am already looking forward to the next book in the series!
I received a digital ARC of this book from Sourcebooks/NetGalley