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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Something Human by A.J. Demas

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Something Human is a m/m historical fiction romance written by A.J. Demas. I heard quite a bit of chatter about this book; I don’t have any prior experience with ancient world historical romance of any kind, but my interest was sufficiently piqued. I picked this up on Kindle Unlimited and dove right in.

Adares and Rus come from completely different worlds. Adares is an aristocrat in a highly advanced society, and Rus comes from a nomadic tribe. They meet during a battle; Rus saves Adares’ life, even though they are supposed to be enemies. This proves to be fortuitous because Adares is able to save Rus’ life. They are both injured, and have no choice but to recuperate together in an abandoned temple. Their conversations are awkward at first, but they quickly discover common ground. And then a tentative friendship grows into something more. 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

Between the Lines by Sally Malcolm

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Between the Lines was written by Sally Malcolm. This contemporary m/m romance novel is set in the same world as Perfect Day, one of Malcolm’s other books. I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance, but the plot of this book piqued my interest.

Theo has arrived in New Milton to close the deal on purchasing the Majestic, a seaside hotel that has fallen into disrepair. This is a big opportunity for Theo to finally impress his father, who sees him as incompetent.

Luca has returned to the Majestic to try to talk his mother out of selling the hotel to a big corporation. Luca grew up at the Majestic, but it hasn’t felt much like home to him for years. His stepfather does not accept that Luca is gay, and so Luca lives a nomadic lifestyle- living by the beach during the summer and the ski slopes in the winter. 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 Magpie Lord by KJ Charles

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The Magpie Lord is the first book in KJ Charles’ A Charm of Magpies series of Victorian-era m/m paranormal fantasy romance novels. I have read and enjoyed many of Charles’ books, so when I saw that I could purchase Kindle editions of the trilogy and pair them with audio for a ridiculously low price, I jumped at the opportunity.

Lucien Vaudrey expected to spend the rest of his life in China. But the deaths of his father and older brother mean that he has inherited an earldom. As if returning to a country he hates is not bad enough, Lucien finds himself plagued with something beyond his control.

Stephen Day is a magical practitioner. His family has a long history of acrimony with Lucien’s, but he still agrees to investigate the matter. He does not, however, expect to find Lucien’s home surrounded by malicious magic. Nor does he expect to be attracted to a man that he is supposed to hate. The plot against Lucien runs deeper than either of them expected, and it will consume them both if Stephen fails to find a way to stop it.

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Kidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews

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Kidnapped by the Pirate was written by Keira Andrews. I found this m/m historical romance novel on Kindle Unlimited.

Nathaniel Bainbridge is sailing from England to the Caribbean, where will reunite with his father, the governor of a small island, and marry the woman his father has chosen for him. Nathaniel is not particularly excited about this, but things take a turn for the worse when their ship is intercepted by a band of pirates who harbor (pardon the pun) a personal grudge against Governor Bainbridge. They kidnap Nathaniel with the intention of holding him for ransom as revenge against the man who wronged him.

The captain, a man named Hawk, insists upon keeping Nathaniel locked in the captain’s quarters to protect him from the crew. At first, Hawk has nothing but contempt for Nathaniel, who he sees as pampered and useless. Likewise, Nathaniel is afraid of Hawk. But slowly, something begins to develop between the two men- despite their age difference, despite their different upbringings, despite everything against them. This is all fine and pleasant, but can they sustain what they have cultivated, especially since the crew expects Hawk to kill Nathaniel if Bainbridge refuses to pay the ransom? 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