The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles

Published: March 7, 2023

Sourcebooks Casablanca

Genre: LGBTQ+ Historical Fiction

Pages: 353

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

KJ Charles spent twenty years as an editor in British publishing before fleeing the scene to become a full-time historical romance novelist. She has written over twenty-five novels since then and her books have been translated into eight languages. She lives in London.

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 stranger, 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 may have to change my approach to life.”

Gareth hasn’t had the happiest life; his father sent him away at six years old to live with an uncle who didn’t want him. Joss had to grow up fast, but that’s every day living in the marsh. Who knew that forbidden desires would weave their way home?

This was a slow burn. I was not as engaged with this book, and it took me days to get through. It was wordy in parts, which I believe was for the time period.

I wish there had been more about the romance. It was forbidden and taboo, which could have been so beautifully romantic.

The details were deep and thorough. Scenery descriptions were so vivid it was easy to imagine them unrolling before you. I liked Joss a lot, and he was such a fantastic character. I wanted to like Gareth, but he annoyed me more than anything.

Overall, the book was okay. The characters all had moments that made them memorable. This wasn’t my style, but I’m not a big reader of historical fiction.

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