Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles

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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.

 

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All is Fair by Dee Garretson

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All is Fair is a historical fiction YA novel written by Dee Garretson. This book is set during World War I, and while there have been a few titles in recent years, it’s not a very common setting. So right away, my interest was piqued.

When Mina receives a telegram at boarding school, she is initially confused by the odd message contained within. She quickly realizes that the message is actually a code, and returns home. The war has already taken a toll on her family; her brother Crispin is already missing in action, and Mina wants to do whatever she can to help.

She reunites with family friend Lord Andrew and meets Lucas, a handsome American. The young men are participating in flight training at a neighboring manor, but there’s something more going on- something they can’t talk about. Can Mina prove to them that she is capable of helping them? Read more

Glitterland by Alexis Hall

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Glitterland is a contemporary m/m romance novel by Alexis Hall. I spent most of December reading just about all of Hall’s books. I think this was the third book I read, but after reading it, I bought the Audible edition solely for the Essex accent. Okay, and also for the angst.

Ash Winters has been dragged to a stag party in Brighton, which is where he meets Darian from Essex. Darian is not his usual type at all, but their encounter is only supposed to be a once night stand, so it doesn’t really matter.

When they meet again, it’s only supposed to be a hookup, but Ash finds himself enjoying Darian’s company. But his anxiety and depression make him doubt that what he’s feeling is real. Ash and Darian come from completely different worlds, but can they possibly find happiness together? Read more

The Earl I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

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The Earl I Ruined is the second book in Scarlett Peckham’s The Secrets of Charlotte Street series of Georgian-era historical romance novels. I have to admit that this book was not really on my radar until someone in one of my book groups gave a teaser review. After that, two things happened: I made an ARC request over at Netgalley because I needed this book in my life, and I realized that I already owned a copy of The Duke I Tempted– the first book in the series. Don’t judge- my TBR pile is practically sentient. Anyway, I tore threw the first book while waiting for my request to be approved, and that only made me want this book even more. Needless to say, I was thrilled when my request was approved.

Readers first encountered Lady Constance in The Duke I Tempted, and the little schemer has not stopped manipulating people. When her machinations lead to destroying the reputation of the Earl of Apthorp, she does what any reasonable person would do: she persuades him to enter into a fake engagement to repair his image.

Julian has always loved Constance, and he has mixed feelings about the charade, but he doesn’t have much of a choice. He doesn’t know what will happen once he and Constance part ways, but he’s determined to make the most of their time together. Read more

King Consort by J.R. Gray

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King Consort is a contemporary m/m romance novel written by J.R. Gray. I found this book on Kindle Unlimited, and it piqued my interest because I love all things royal family.

Louis is the heir to the British throne, and he maintains a carefully crafted playboy persona in order to hide his sexuality. While on a goodwill trip to North America, Louis meets Xavier, who he later finds out is a paparazzo. But what seems like a disaster turns into an odd sort of partnership. There’s clearly a connection, but there are so many reasons for why something lasting between them can never work. They’re determined to enjoy their present, with no expectations of a future together. Read more

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

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Romancing the Duke is the first book in Tessa Dare’s Castles Ever After series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I enjoy Dare’s books, but I have not read nearly enough of them, something I am attempting to remedy. I’m slightly behind with my book reviewing, but I recently listened to the Audible edition of this book.

Izzy Goodnight finds herself in a predicament after her father’s death. He has left her with virtually nothing, so when she receives a castle from a family friend, she sees this as her last chance at independence.

There’s just one problem: the castle already has an owner. Ransom, the Duke of Rothbury, has been living in seclusion ever since he was blinded in a duel six months ago. He most certainly did not sell his home, and while he wants Izzy to vacate the premises, he admits that he needs help sorting through his correspondence and figuring out how his house was sold. Read more

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

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The Good, the Bad, and the Duke is the fourth book in Janna MacGregor’s Cavensham Heiresses series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed the other books in the series, and I was especially intrigued by the possibility of redemption for Paul.

Readers were introduced to Paul Barstowe in the first scene of the first book, and it was immediately clear that he was meant to be the villain of the piece. He served as an antagonist, but it is finally time for redemption. It has been several years since the series began, and Paul has inherited the Southart dukedom after the deaths of his father and older brother. Paul wants to make up for the mistakes of his past, but he didn’t factor falling in love into the equation.

Daphne grew up admiring her older brother’s best friend. Paul has not been part of her life for many years, not since the friendship dissolved into acrimony. When her journal is stolen, her quest to recover it leads her directly into Paul’s path. It’s clear that there’s a connection, but there are so many reasons that a relationship between them could never succeed. Can they overcome secrets of the past to find happiness or are they doomed to fail? Read more

An Unusual Courtship by Katherine Marlowe

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An Unusual Courtship was written by Katherine Marlowe. This is a Regency-era m/m historical romance novel, and I first found out about it because of its availability on Kindle Unlimited. If you don’t want to read my entire review, all you need to know is that I enjoyed this book so much that I purchased my own copy.

Percival Valentine likes his quiet life in the village of Linston, where he works in an informal capacity as estate manager. There’s a more detailed explanation, involving an extinct barony and an inherited house, but needless to say, Percival is a gentleman. When he finds out that Linston Grange has been rented to a trio of young people, he looks forward to the new opportunities for socialization.

Mr. and Miss Bolton are delightful, but it is their friend the enigmatic Mr. Everett who really catches Percival’s eye. There is clearly a spark of mutual attraction, but they skirt around it and never talk about it because of the forbidden nature of such a relationship.

But Mr. Everett has secrets of his own- are they enough to doom the potential for anything more than friendship? Read more

My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes

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My One and Only Duke is the first book in Grace Burrowes’ Rogues to Riches series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed Burrowes’ Windham Brides series, and a new series meant a fresh start with new characters.

Quinn Wentworth started with nothing, and built a prosperous banking empire for himself and his siblings. But as the story begins, Quinn is in Newgate, facing execution for a murder he did not commit. It is there that he meets Jane, a pregnant vicar’s daughter. Jane is not married; she eloped to Scotland with a handsome soldier, who turned out to be a rogue, but he was killed in a duel. Jane already caused one scandal by eloping, and now she faces a second one. Quinn offers to marry Jane, so that his estate can provide financial support for her and the unborn baby. He’s going to die anyway, so why shouldn’t he do one final magnanimous gesture? Read more

Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Salt Magic, Skin Magic was written by Lee Welch. This is a Victorian-era m/m romance novel with elements of fantasy and magic. I found out about this book in one of my Facebook groups, and it sounded like the perfect book for me.

Lord Thornby had a pleasant life in London, but after being summoned home by his father to their remote estate, he finds that no matter what he does, he is unable to leave. He is physically trapped on the estate with no hope and no one to help him.

John Blake is a trained magician who arrives at the estate as a favor to a friend. Thornby’s young stepmother believes that she is the victim of dark magic and that Thornby is the one cursing her. Blake is prepared to eliminate the threat, but he realizes that while the house most certainly is cursed, Thornby is as much of a victim as his stepmother. Read more