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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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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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

Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Bloodline is the fifth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I started reading the series this summer, and I try to have large gaps between each book; there is only a finite amount of material, and I want my experience to last as long as possible.

After their adventure in Egypt, Whyborne and Griffin return to Widdershins. Their lives to return to whatever passes until normal until they are faced with a new predicament involving abandoned ships, cryptic notes, a murder, and mysterious cousins from England. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin see the hallmarks of something supernatural, and find themselves racing to save humanity (or at least the city of Widdershins) from an unknown threat. Read more

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster is a middle grade historical fiction novel by Jonathan Auxier. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I’ve enjoyed some of Auxier’s other books, and I thought it would be a good fit for my three girls who are in the fourth and sixth grades.

Nan Sparrow works as a chimney sweep in Victorian London. It’s a miserable existence, with no end in sight, but that changes when she meets Charlie, a gentle creature who befriends her. Nan has never really had a friend, and she is fiercely protective of Charlie. She understands that he would never hurt anyone, but is there a place in the harsh world for a monster? Read more

Necropolis (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Necropolis is the fourth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I know I say this in every W&G review, but it’s hard to describe the series. There’s action and adventure, magic and mystery, and m/m romance. All of this is set against a Victorian American background.

This book takes Whyborne and Griffin to Egypt to help their friend Christine, who they believe is in grave danger (pardon the pun). As they assist her at the excavation site, it’s clear that there’s something otherworldly afoot. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin must intercede, lest the threat wreak havoc upon humanity. Read more

Stormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Stormhaven is the third book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. It’s hard to condense the series into a few descriptors; the books are action/adventure/mystery with some m/m romance, all in an alternate Victorian American setting. I was excited about reading this book because I devoured the first two, and I needed to know what was going to happen next.

Whyborne and Griffin have returned to Widdershins after their ordeal in Threshold, and they are hoping to return to a sense of normalcy after the chaos of the first two books, but alas, this is not meant to be. Whyborne’s coworker Allan is found on the street covered in blood, claiming not to remember anything. Allan is accused of murdering his uncle, but Whyborne harbors suspicions and does not think Allan would be capable of such a heinous crime.

Whyborne and Griffin’s investigation takes them to the Stormhaven Asylum where Allan is being held. Something is definitely “off”; after two previous experiences in dealing with the paranormal, our dynamic duo can sense the hallmarks of anything otherworldly. But is this threat too big for them to handle? Read more

The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo

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The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo is the sixth book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series of historical romance novels. I was very excited to read this book because I’ve read all of the other books in the series, so I have been looking forward to this latest entry for almost a year.

Lorelei does not have much joy in her life, but she takes pleasure in rehabilitating injured animals. So when she sees an injured young man on the side of the road, she persuades her father to bring him home. This stranger heals, but he doesn’t even remember his own name. Lorelei calls him Ash, and they spend as much time as possible together. Lorelei falls utterly in love with Ash, and he says that he’ll always be there for her. But one day, and Lorelei believes that she will never see him again. Read more

Another Place in Time by Anthology

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Another Place in Time is a collection of m/m historical romance short stories. I was already excited as soon as I heard about it in one of my Facebook reading groups, but when I saw that the collection included something I borrowed from my library network and had yet to add to my personal library, I was even more confident with my purchase. Read more

The Henchmen of Zenda by KJ Charles

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The Henchmen of Zenda was written by KJ Charles. This m/m adventure story is an homage to The Prisoner of Zenda, a minor classic from the Victorian era. Now, I have never read The Prisoner of Zenda before, but Charles is one of my favorite authors, so this was a must-buy for me.

Jasper Detchard is an English mercenary who finds himself in the small European country of Ruritania. The king’s half-brother wants to claim the throne for himself, so he is assembling a band of men to help him achieve his goal.

Between all the political machinations and double crossing, Jasper manages to catch the attention of Rupert of Hentzau, a fellow mercenary. This isn’t a romance novel by any stretch of the imagination, but somewhere along the way, Jasper and Rupert realize that they share a mutual attraction. The only question is whether they will both survive in these uncertain times long enough to do something about it. Read more