K.J. Charles

Books: Romance | Historical | Mystery | Fantasy | LGBT


A Charm of Magpies: The Magpie Lord (2013), A Case of Possession (2014), Flight of Magpies (2014)

Green Men: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (2013), Spectred Isle (2017)


Sins of the City: An Unseen Attraction (2017), An Unnatural Vice (2017), An Unsuitable Heir (2017)

Lily White Boys: Any Old Diamonds (2019), The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter (2019), Gilded Cage (2019), Masters in This Hall (2022)

The Will Darling Adventures: Slippery Creatures (2020), The Sugared Game (2020)

Think of England (2014),  Proper English (2019),


Society of Gentlemen: The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (2015), A Fashionable Indulgence (2016), A Seditious Affair (2016), A Gentleman’s Position (2016)

Rag & Bone: A Queer Trade (2015), Rag and Bone (2016)

Unfit to Print (2018), Band Sinister (2018), Wanted, a Gentleman (2018), The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting (2021), Subtle Blood (2021)

Anthologies: Another Place in Time (2014), Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy (2015)

Short Stories


A Charm of Magpies

The Magpie Lord (2013)


  • One for sorrow Two for joy
  • Three for a girl Four for a boy
  • Five for silver Six for gold
  • Seven for a secret never to be told
  • Eight for a letter over the sea
  • Nine for a lover as true as can be

Lucien Vaudrey spent 20 years exiled in China by his father. Now that his father and brother are both dead, Lucien has returned to England to inherit the title of Lord Crane and the earldom. But it seems like someone doesn’t want him to keep that inheritance for long.

Stephen Day is a Justicar–a magician who enforces the rules. He also has an unpleasant past with the Crane family, and wants nothing better than for the new Earl Crane to suffer has the old earl made others suffer. But he has to uphold the law, and that means he has to work with Lucien Vaudrey, who is… not what he was expecting.

“Murder?” Stephen knew he sounded scathing, couldn’t help it. “It is a crime.”

“Mr. Day, you know what they were,” Crane said. “If someone killed them, it was about bloody time.”

“No, it was murder,” said Stephen. “No matter what they were.”

“I dispute that. Hector did exactly as he chose— rape, assault, abuse— with my father’s protection and complicity, and he got away with it for thirty years and more because not one single person had the guts to stand up to them—”

I really like the world-building of these stories. And the characters. And the story.

So I guess I pretty much like everything, even if I could do without all the boinking. And even the boinking is kinda fascinating, because like magic use, homosexuality had to be hidden as well.

Also, for a self-published book, I very much like the cover. It’s extremely well done, giving you an idea of the time period, the characters, and the relationship between them.

A fun book, and I’m looking forward to the next.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Reread: May 2021 | Rating: 8/10

A Case of Possession (2014)

The second Charm of Magpies books finds Stephen and Crane the subject of blackmail. Crane, being an Earl, would be fine ignoring the blackmailer, but Stephen, being poor, could easily be arrested for their relationship.

But then they suddenly have a much larger problem–giant rats are attacking and killing people, and those killed seem to be linked to China–and perhaps Crane.

The mystery was interesting, and it allowed Crane to talk about his time in China, and how he survived his first year there. It also explains more of why Crane and Merrick are as much friends as master and servant.

Plus, they’re fun.

Merrick came in with a bundle. “I beg your pardon,” he began, and then recoiled at his master’s appearance. “What happened to you?”

“Blame Leo. She bled all over me.”

“That’s the Hawkes and Cheney suit!” said Merrick, outraged. “I’ll never get that stain out.”

“I’ll bleed more carefully next time,” Leonora assured him.

There is, of course, boinking book. Just so you know. But I really do like the mystery and the characters and the world building.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 7.5/10

Reread: May 2021 | Rating: 8/10

Flight of Magpies (2014)

The third book of the Charm of Magpies series finds Stephen and Lord Crane struggling to come to terms with Vaudrey’s desire to leave England and Stephen’s dedication to his job–a job that offers little remuneration but a lot of danger.

Crane had promised he wouldn’t leave the country without him, and meant it, but his thoughts had undeniably turned from how he could stay in England to how he could make Stephen cross the seas with him.

Even worse, Stephen’s partner, Esther Gold, is currently unable to practice magic.

“For Mrs. Gold. I hope she’s well?”

“No, she’s sick. More or less continually, which is unpleasant for her, and since she is the worst patient of my acquaintance, fairly nasty for me.”

What is best about this series is that the characters are very well done. Each is well-developed and unique, and most of them refuse to take themselves seriously.

He wasn’t familiar with the operation of the patent stove or the boiler, and if it came to that, it was a long time since he’d made a cup of coffee for himself.

“Congratulations, Vaudrey, you’ve become purely decorative,” he said aloud.

As I’ve noted before, this is M/M erotica, so there is a lot of boinking, but I really like the characters, and I really liked the story and how Stephen and Vaudrey work out their problems.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Reread: June 2021 | Rating: 8/10

Rag & Bone

A Queer Trade (2015)

This is a short story I picked up because I liked another series of hers I read, and the idea of an historical fantasy was worth checking out.

Crispin Tredarloe is a practitioner. He is also going to be in a great deal of trouble. His master died while he was out of town and the heirs got rid of all his papers.

His magical papers.

Ned Hall is a dealer in waste paper, and it is to him that Crispin applies, in his search for the papers, before they escape into the world and wreak havoc.

I knew nothing about this world or the characters, and was immediately drawn into the story, wanting to know more about the secret magic users.

So I’d say it succeeded in it’s task, since I immediately started a book set in the same world.

Publisher: KJ Charles

Rating: 7/10

Reread: August 2023 | Rating: 7.5/10

Rag and Bone (2016)

This is set after Flight of Magpies and continues the story started in A Queer Trade.

Crispin Tredarloe is trying to learn the right way to be a practitioner, instead of a warlock, like he was trained. But it’s difficult unlearning everything he has been doing for years, and to make matters worse, there is no one to properly train him, because there are no other practitioners in London with his form of magic.

“I wondered if you could come and help me with something first, please.”

“Is it an important something?” Janossi said. “Because I am actually quite busy.”

“Spontaneous human combustion?”

“I’ll get my coat.”

Ned Hall is tired of magic. He discovered he is a Flit, but doesn’t want to practice. And on top of that, magic training is taking all of Crispin’s time, so the two hardly get to see each other.

Plus, the whole magic thing.

“Sod your parsley, your sage, your rosemary, your thyme, and your watercress if it comes to that,” Ned announced.

Both Ned and Crispin fear that the other will tire of them–Ned because he’s only a waste paper man, Crispin because he’s a failure at being a magician. Each respects the other, and is waiting to be left for greener pastures. What I like is that each has good reasons for his feelings, which makes the tension between the two characters good.

Crispin sagged. Ned probably would make a marvellous stockbroker, if it came to that, because he was actually good at things.

There’s one other book left, that I know of, involving a character who appeared in this story, and Flight of Magpies. I think I’ll wait a bit before reading it, so I have it to look forward to.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Green Men

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (2013)

Set in England between 1894 and 1914.

The Caldwell Ghost Butterflies Remember, Remember Silver Cakes and Ale Devils on Horseback An Eye for an Eye The Writing on the Wall Turn of the Century The End

Simon Feximal helps the dead to rest. He doesn’t exorcise them, send them on, but instead allows them to finish telling their stories.

He was covered in writing. It was scrawled in black and red ink, from wrist to shoulder of both muscular arms, across his broad, powerful shoulders and chest. None of it was in a language I recognised, or could read, but it was unmistakably writing… and it was still being written.

I gaped. The lines, some spidery, some looping, still others jagged, etched themselves over his skin, a constant silent chatter of messages.

“What—” My voice failed.

“The stories write themselves,” he said, very matter-of-fact. “I serve as their page.”

Robert is known for writing the stories of the various cases that Simon has worked.

These stories are how Simon and Robert met and became lovers and partners.

It is surprising how fast a man can fall when there is nobody to extend a hand to him.

I think Cakes and Ale was my favorite story of the lot.

“Well, that’s new,” the maid said, picking it up. “If you’re going to start making a mess, we’ll have words!” That remark was addressed in loud tones to the empty air.

“You are not intimidated by the ghost?” I asked.

“Lord bless you, sir, if I was to run screaming at a few open doors, we should be in a pickle.”

This book does pull in other fictional characters, such as the Diogenes Club and Mycroft Holmes (although not by name) which is quite entertaining.

It’s a lovely collection of stories, some of which have more boinking than others, but all of which are interesting.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Reread: June 2021 | Rating: 7.5/10

Spectred Isle (2017) 

Set in London in 1823

Archaeologist Saul Lazenby was disgraced during the way, and the only work he has been able to find is working for a retired Major with an interest in finding historical places and items with supernatural significance. Saul believes none of this, but is glad for the job and acceptance he hasn’t gotten from anyone else.

Saul’s professional instincts were shaped by his doctorate in archaeology from Oxford and two years working on excavations in Mesopotamia. Major Peabody believed that if the ravens left the Tower of London, the city would fall.

Randolph Glyde is the last arcanist of his family line, everyone else having been killed during the war, including his fiancee. Whitehall is trying to pull him and his compatriots into the Shadow Ministry, where the government can control and regulate the use of people and objects of a mystical bent.

He’d nearly died for his country a great deal too often; if that country was as grateful as it claimed to be, it could demonstrate that by leaving him alone.

When Saul and Randolph keep coming across each other, both are suspicious, but Randolph isn’t sure how to ally Saul’s suspicious without being seen as a madman.

Lazenby’s brows drew together. He hesitated, a thought obviously dawning, and then spoke much more calmly. “Yes, very clear. I tell you what, old chap, though, why don’t I stay with you for now? Major Peabody will pop off just as you asked, won’t you, sir?”

“What?” said the Major.

“I think this gentleman’s having some bad memories,” Lazenby said, and turned his face away from Randolph to mouth something. “So I’ll stay with him while you find someone who might be able to help, do you see?”

I’m not certain that the story has quite as strong a post Great War feel as other stories I’ve read, but then much of the story was in and about the world beneath the world, so it’s hard to be certain.

Regardless, I very much liked this story, and if you don’t mind the M/M boinking, highly recommend it.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Reread: June 2021 | Rating: 8/10


Think of England (2014) 

Set in England in 1904

Archie Curtis lost three of the fingers on his right hand as well as much of his company when a delivery of guns proved tragically defective.

“It was a damned business. My company lost as many men in two minutes’ practice firing than in six months of war before it.” Seven deaths on the field; six more in the field hospital; two suicides, later. Three men blinded. Mutilations and amputations. “The entire crate of guns was deadly.”

Now, two years later, he is searching for clues as to why it happened.

“What happened to Lafayette? Did someone say he died?”

“About a fortnight after I spoke to him. A couple of weeks ago now. He was found in the Thames. It seems he hit his head and fell into the river.”

“Hit his head,” da Silva repeated.


“Did anyone wonder if someone hit his head for him?”

Daniel de Silva is a dandy and an effete. Curtis has no idea how he ended up at the house party, but he the man makes him uncomfortable.

He grabbed for the nearest serving dish and proffered it, in the hope of changing the subject. “Ham?”

“No, thank you.”

“It’s a jolly good one.”

Da Silva blinked, slowly, like a lizard. “I dare say, but I fear I haven’t converted since we last spoke.”

“Con— Oh. Oh, I beg your pardon. I quite forgot you were a Jew.”

“How refreshing. So few people do.”

I really liked this story.

“I, er,” said Curtis, with the natural awkwardness of an Englishman caught reading poetry. “I just, er, picked this up.”

Curtis doesn’t know how to deal with da Silva, but unlike many of the other at the house party, he doesn’t hold da Sliva in contempt.

He was alone in a room with a chap who preferred men, and the fellow was looking at him.

Curtis couldn’t think of a damned thing to say.

This is a KJ Charles book, so it’s a M/M romance, and there is boinking.

There is also adventure and mystery and a fair amount of action towards the end.

And even though this was published originally in 2014, and set in 1904, some things continue to ring true.

“Oh, none of this will last. This country is heading for a crash, mark my words. There are other nations rising, ones with stronger, purer ideals and men who are prepared to work, to aspire. If we don’t set ourselves to join them now, it won’t be long before we face them on the battlefield. And we’ll be better off doing either without parasites sapping our strength from within.”

Curtis had heard this kind of talk a few times, and never from men who had actually put on a uniform. Normally a patient man, he had found armchair warriors almost intolerable since Jacobsdal, and there was a snap in his voice as he replied, “Yes, jolly good. So, when that conflict comes, will you be joining the army? Or, why not now, if you’re so keen?”

Although there is boinking, and the mystery isn’t that complicated, it’s a lovely and enjoyable story.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8.5/10

Reread: August 2020 | 8.5/10

Proper English (2019)

Set in England in 1902

Patricia Merton is looking forward to the shooting party in the country. Now her brother’s wedding is over, she is going to have to decide what to do with herself, because remaining in the home she grew up just isn’t going to work. But she doesn’t get much time to think about her future (or shoot) because Fenella Carruth, her host’s fiancee is distracting, and her host’s brother-in-law is a complete cad, who seems set on ruining the party for everyone.

This story is related to one I love, Think of England, and is set two years prior to that, so we know going in that Fen and Pat are going to become a couple–we just don’t know how they are going to get there.

Also, this is a murder mystery, so we have to discover who is murdered (it’s pretty obvious who this is going to be) and then who was the murderer. That bit was harder, since the victim had given literally every at the party reason to kill them.

As with most of KJ Charles’ books, there are a variety of characters–all of whom are appropriate for the time.

Miss Singh agreed. “Miss Merton, I wanted to say that I hope I didn’t offend you earlier.”

“Me? Not at all. How would you have done so?”

“When we first discussed shooting. I feel strongly on the subject, so I express myself strongly.”

“I had four older brothers,” Pat said. “I’m used to people expressing themselves strongly.

Pat is quite eccentric, but not ridiculously so for the time.

Pat did not corset. She had had no mother to train her waist to a span of eighteen inches or so; her father thought wasp-waists were for insects and preferred his daughter able to walk, climb trees, shoot, and run around the house.

And related to that, this bit amuses me.

As an adherent of Rational Dress, she was able to clothe herself without a maid’s assistance. She simply donned combinations, drawers, camisole, stockings, undershirt, petticoat, walking dress, and boots, and was ready to face the day.

A subtle reminder that the world was very different for women.

“But she isn’t your daughter,” Haworth said silkily. “She’s my wife. I think some of you around this table are in danger of forgetting that, aren’t you?

And a less subtle reminder.

I also note that there are some lovely pointed comments, about things that are still problematic today.

“I’m so sorry. That’s wholly inadequate but I don’t know if there’s anything else one can say.”

“Not really. Certainly not, ‘At least you still have two left.’”

“Please don’t tell me people say that to you.”

“Of course they do,”

One quick note. I did take umbrage with this.

(M)y sister bedded an American jazz musician,” Jimmy snapped. “George takes after his father. Brown as a berry.

The music might have been what we’d call jazz, but that’s too early for the name. It’s just a small nit. I’m assuming because it was a quick shorthand for what the author meant, but as someone who adores jazz, it did bug me. Ragtime would probably have been the correct genre to use here. But all that is just me being pedantic, and NOT anything that takes away from the story.

And it was a fun story.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Sins of the City

An Unseen Attraction (2017)

Set in London in 1873

This is a MM boinking book.

Clem Tallyfer is the keeper of his brother’s lodging house in London. It’s how he makes his living–surviving on the sufferance of his brother.

He’s also different, and that makes things even more difficult.

Would you like to keep looking? I’ll wait.” That was the sort of thing people said and then it turned out they hadn’t meant that at all. Clem knew he didn’t recognise sarcasm because he had been told so, repeatedly.

Clem was not a man you could read like a book, or if you could, the book was in an unfamiliar typeface, with no page numbers.

Rowley Green is a preserver who chose Clem’s lodging house because it was right next to his shop. He prefers to create life-like creations, but sometimes has to sell the … unusual.

“What is it?”

“A badger presented as the messenger god Hermes.”


“I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. Presumably someone ate toasted cheese before bed.”

I really liked the characters. Clem is neuroatypical, but he is also smart. And kind, which makes him a very complex character. Especially since he is quite aware of how his problems cause him to be viewed by society.

Clem tightened his grip. “Rowley, there are lots of people who think I’m worth looking at. Not so many who think I’m worth listening to.”

That helps to make him an incredibly compelling character. I also very much like that Clem does have friends who look out for him.

The other thing I really liked is the mystery. One of the lodgers is found brutally murdered on the doorstep of the lodging house, and events spiral out of control from there.

As I said, this is a MM romance, and that makes this very different from other historical romances, first and foremost because homosexuality was a severe crime at that time, and it made normal relationships almost impossible for such men. But what I also like is that both characters being male allows the story to ignore the limitations placed upon women (such as the lack of basic rights).

The murder and mystery were icing on the cake, especially since Clem’s mindset made it almost impossible for him to see many people in a negative light. Rowley’s struggle with that makes for a fascinating struggle, and a completely believable one.

Another note: the story isn’t completely resolved. But the next book has already been published. So that helps.

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 8/10

An Unnatural Vice (2017)

Setin London in 1873

This book follows–and in some cases overlaps–An Unseen Attraction Clem’s brother is dead, his heir has been made a bastard, and now Clem’s friends are trying to keep Clem’s cousin from throwing him out of his home by searching for another possible heir–the children on the first wife.

Justin Lazarus is known as The Seer of London, and plies his craft with skill and cunning, caring only about the few under his direct care, and more than willing to take money from the rich and willing.

Justin used innuendo and throaty moans in the same way he used stolen information and a fanatical level of planning: as weapons.

Nathaniel Roy, a crusading journalist, had been to see one of London’s leading spiritualists in an attempt to prove fraud. He hates spiritualists and would like nothing better to prove Justin a fraud, but when Justin comes to him with a lead on the possible heir, he determines he has to work with him, if only to save Clem’s home and living.

For a man to set himself up as a false prophet and lay claim to more than mortal powers struck Nathaniel as profoundly blasphemous,even though he believed in neither prophets nor powers.

The first thing I particularly liked about this story was Nathaniel’s past: he’d had a partner and love, but after that mand’s death Nathaniel was left to struggle with his grief, having to hide it from all but his closest friends. How impossible that must have been for so many men, to never be able to show their true feelings of the loss of their loves–to have to hide such a loss from the world.

The second thing I liked was that although Nathaniel despised what Justin did, I found it easy to sympathize with Justin, who worked his way up from nothing and took from the wealthy without a second thought. I understood why Nathaniel was opposed to Justin’s trade, playing on grief and despair was it did, but Justin is pragmatic and we see his does look out for those in his care, making him as good a man as Nathaniel.

It was a couple of decades since he’d slept on the street and five years since he’d been able to afford a bedroom of his own, yet he swam back to consciousness with a sense of incredulous relief every morning. No lice, no noise, no hands on his body, no dirty floor or sacking scraping his skin. Nobody whose approach he need fear, and nobody whose absence he need fear, either.

The third thing was the mystery. Clem still isn’t out of danger, but he also isn’t out on the streets. And there are still people being murdered for the sake or the Earldom.

Plus Clem really is lovely.

“For heaven’s sake!” Clem slapped the table, making Rowley jump. “These are my niece and nephew! Edmund’s children, his legitimate children, running away from home and their mother to God knows what, and Repentance is the earl— and that poor girl, poor Emmeline, she was sixteen years old, on her own, miles from home, with child, and this—”

Rowley put a hand on his forearm. Clem put his own hand over it. “It’s not right. What Edmund did, what they all did. All of them,from my father on. Using people and not giving a damn for the consequences. It’s so greedy.”

It’s a fun series, and although there is a LOT of boinking, I really like the mystery AND the characters.

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 8/10

An Unsuitable Heir (2017)

Set in London in 1873

Mark is a private enquiry agent. He and his mother came to England, fleeing Poland after his mother got in trouble one too many times for her anarchism. Through the lawyer who often defended his mother, he came to know Clem and the others at the Jack, so he is willing to help Nathaniel search for the missing heir to help keep Clem from being thrown out of his home.

“Gone back off home now to bring down the Empire, trzymajmy kciuki.” He tipped his glass.

“What was that?”

“Polish. Means ‘Let’s keep our fingers crossed.’”

“Did you just drink to the fall of the British Empire?”

“I was brought up in bad ways.”

Pen and Greta Starling (Regret and Repentance Godfrey) have been working as acrobats since they ran away years earlier, when Greta was to have been forced to marry the old man who was head of the religious group their mother joined after running away.

It was working as showmen that Pen truly discovered himself: a person who didn’t always want to be male, but also didn’t necessarily want to be female, but instead wanted only to be himself, whoever that was on any given day.

Which makes him a really really unsuitable heir. I was honestly wondering how on earth things were going to work out, because Pen was completely unsuited to being the heir, but the heir apparent and his son would throw Clem out in a heartbeat, so that obviously would not work at all.

I think this is the first book I’ve read where a main character was trans. Which made it all the more interesting, since his sexuality was very much tied up in how he felt about himself at that time. It also made it impossible for Pen to live happily as the Earl, since his whole life would become a facade he could not maintain.

I also really liked many of the secondary characters, including Mr Hapgood.

“Edmund, Lord Moreton, was married to Emmeline Godfrey. Any son by that lady precedes all other heirs. It must be carefully assessed whether Mr. Pen is such a son.”

“Why are you taking his side?” Desmond demanded. His gnarled hands were tight on his cane. “You work for me!”

“I represent the Moreton estate,” Mr. Hapgood said, very coldly. “I have done so all my life. I do not take sides, Mr. Desmond.”

Also: Clem.

“Desmond’s been trying to throw me out of my house, you see. I keep lodgings, and the lodging house belongs to Moreton, and if he took it away that would be my home and my livelihood gone. Everything I’ve worked for, my future. I’d have to start all over again with nothing. It wouldn’t be pleasant.”

“Why would he do that?”

“Because he doesn’t want me to exist,” Clem said simply.

Clem is the reason that who becomes the Earl matters so much. Without worry for Clem, you wouldn’t care if Pen walked away from the Earldom. Which of course makes both the mystery and the conclusion far more interesting.

Also: a locked room mystery!

“You can’t get into the house from the moat,” Tim said. “Clem and I never did and we spent summers trying.”

Additionally, I liked the conclusion. As I said, I didn’t see how it was ever going to work out, and then suddenly realized the solution had been there all the time.

It was a nice little series, despite all the boinking, and I enjoyed the characters and the mystery.

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 8/10

Lily White Boys

Any Old Diamonds (2019) 

Set in England in 1895.

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes–who goes by Alec Pyne–desperately wants revenge upon his father. So he hires the Lilywhite Boys to steal the diamond parvane his father is planning to give his second wife on their 20th anniversary. But Jerry Crozier knows far more than Alec is comfortable with–and Jerry doesn’t trust Alec not to back out of the deal once things are set in motion.

This story was a bit of a departure for KJ Charles, in that we only see things from Alec’s side. We have no idea what Jerry is doing or thinking. I actually really liked that, since it helped emphasize how untrustworthy Jerry could be.

If I were inclined to repentance, and I’m not, I’d want to start now. To do it on one’s deathbed is to be sorry because one has been caught, and that surely doesn’t count.”

Consider me the antithesis of a Romish priest. I take confession, I keep your silence, but instead of absolution I give you vengeance.

This is, as noted, a KJ Charles book, which means it’s a M/M romance and full of boinking.

It’s also got a story that immediately pulled me in, lots of surprises, and complicated bad guys.

Which, of course, I’d expect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth mentioning.

Also, bits like this make me think I might like to visit rural England of the past.

Behind them were the Bowland fells, barren-looking moors studded with gritstone, rising and falling jaggedly, stretching out and up forever, bleak and empty and beautiful.

Which won’t happen, but still.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Reread: September 2021 | Rating: 8.5/10

The Rat-Catcher’s Daughter (2019)

Set in London in 1893.

Miss Christiana is in trouble. She’s all but owned by Kammy Gizzard, and she failed in the task he set out for her, that might have allowed her to buy her way out of debt, so now Kammy is coming to make an example of her.

Stan has had a crush on Miss Christiana since her first saw her, so when he learned she was in danger, he asked a favor to try and get her out of trouble. Now Stan isn’t sure he isn’t in trouble.

Miss Christiana would be sure he was some sort of exploitative swine— of course she would, with Temp cheerfully saying, I told her she didn’t have to fuck you as if anyone could hear a sentence like that without panicking.

This is NOT a boinking book. One or both of the characters are on the ace spectrum. But there is danger and excitement and discussion of boinking.

Kissing people gave them the wrong idea, and it was hard to enjoy touching anyone when you were constantly wondering where they’d stick their hands.

This story has little to do with Jerry and Templeton, although they do pay a part, and what I like about that part is that it allows the two main characters to be themselves, and to behave in a way that they should.

It’s a sweet romance short story, with a dose of menace and violence.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 7.5/10

Gilded Cage (2019)

Gilded CageSet in London in 1865.

This is the second Lilywhite Boys book, and finds Templeton Lane in a great deal of trouble, as he ends up suspected of murder while trying to steal an opal necklace. Unfortunately, the only person it seems he can turn to is his old love, Susan Lazarus.

And we spend time with Susan, the adopted daughter of Justin Lazarus, who works for his inquiry agency and who had a relationship with Templeton as a teenager.

He had been gone for more than a decade, and reappeared, not with the reformed character and fortune that a spell in the colonies was meant to bestow on the delinquent upper classes, but as a jewel thief.

The past relationship between Susan and James (Templeton) is complicated, but we do learn that James isn’t quite as awful has his past actions seemed to be, although he is by no means a good man (he is, after all, a jewel thief).

If you want to share, you have my word of honour I will behave as a gentleman.”

“I’ve met gentlemen.”

“Good point. I will behave as a gentleman ought to.”

That’s a particularly sharp barb, as then–as now–those who are supposed to behave as gentleman rarely do. (That’s one of the reasons I don’t love the trope of a woman going after a lord in historical mysteries. Yeah, they weren’t ALL bad, but a lot of them really were just privileged assholes.)

So this story has characters from previous books, including the Sins of the City series as well as the book and novella in this series. I think that might actually be part of its weakness. It spends a lot of time with the characters from those series, which seemed to come at the detriment of the mystery, which is too bad, because I thought Any Old Diamonds was pretty fantastic.

So although it was fine, it didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as I did other historicals she’s written, and don’t have any urge to read it again.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 6/10

Reread: September 2021 | Rating: 7/10

Masters in This Hall (2022)

Masters in This HallSet in England in 1899.

John Garland might not have had everything, like his uncle and his cousin, but he was respectable and had a job he was good at.

Until it all came crashing down.

Now he is heading to his uncle’s house in hopes to at least keep another theft from happening.

As is usual, I particularly liked the banter.

“Christ. He shot you.”

“He shot at me.”

“You were six inches from not needing the preposition!

The romance was originally a bit of a struggle for me, because I had a difficult time seeing how John could forgive, but as I got to know the characters it became easier to see how Barnaby had gotten himself in a fix–and how he was unable to get himself out of it.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 7/10

The Will Darling Adventures

Slippery Creatures (2020)

Slippery CreaturesWill Darling returned from the Great War at a bit of a loss.

Will had gone to the War at eighteen, and come back five years later to find himself useless and unwanted. In Flanders he’d been a grizzled veteran, a fount of professional expertise who knew the ropes and had seen it all. Back in Blighty he’d become a young man again, one with little training and no experience. He’d been apprenticed to a joiner before the war, but that felt like decades ago: all he was good at now was killing people, which was discouraged.

His one piece of luck was reaching out to his uncle, a dealer in antiquities, who took Will on in his shop. When his uncle died a few months later, Will inherits the shop–and an unexpected problem: Men who insist will turn over the document.

I liked Will. I liked his friend Maisie.

Will had asked her dancing early on in their acquaintance, and they’d had some very pleasant evenings. Then he had walked into a storeroom at work, and found the senior shop-floor clerk trapping her there. He’d removed the man without ceremony, using his boot, and been summarily dismissed.

I liked Phoebe.

“I think you’re rather lovely,” he said, startling himself.

“I know I am,” Phoebe assured him. “But it’s always nice to be told so.”

And I very much like how Kim is introduced and presented. He never explains himself, and we are left to piece together his history (which is different from what he says) as well as his motivations (which are also different from what he claims).

Having the story only from Will’s point of view means we see only what Kim presents, and (like Will) have to deduce Kim’s secrets and motivations.

I fear that with the 100th anniversary of the end of the war and the Spanish Flu, we may eventually get a lot of books about this time period. But there haven’t been many in the past, so I’ll enjoy what I find now.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

The Sugared Game (2020)

Set in London in 1924.

Will Darling has settled in as proprietor of the bookstore he inherited from his uncle. He’s cleaned out the upstairs so he has room to sleep, and is slowly organizing the books. Unfortunately, all that is not keeping his mind off Kim Secretan, the unreliable aristocrat he met several months earlier, and who has seemingly walked away from Will without a second look.

But when Will and his friend Maisie visit a popular nightclub, it ends up the kind of mess Kim gets involved in, which throws the two together again.

I think my favorite part of the story was the subplot with Maisie, who (with Kim’s fiancee Phoebe) is going to start her own clothing line.

“Excuse me.” It was a woman standing next to her. “May I ask, where did you get that divine frock?”

“Maison Zie,” Maisie said immediately. “This is an early model.” She spoke in cut-glass English, disturbingly like Phoebe’s accent, with no hint of her usual Welsh lilt.

Kim has proven himself unreliable, however, Will also knows he is in an unpleasant line of work that requires a good deal of lying, which is why it isn’t quite ridiculous for Will to keep giving Kim chances.

“What about the perpetrators?”

“Consequences happen,” Kim said. “Sometimes officially, sometimes not. Jobs are lost. Bank accounts are emptied. Words are dropped in ears, and decisions are made to leave the country and start a new life in South America. The passive voice does a lot of work in my line.”

To my pleasant surprise, this actually wrapped up the mystery begun in the first book. Kim is at loose ends, and there is another book scheduled. But I was quite pleased to see the Capricorn sotry arc wrapped up.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 7.5/10

Subtle Blood (2021)

Subtle BloodSet in London ~1924

Will Darling is finally somewhat comfortable in his relationship with Kim Secretan, even if they continue to have to hide they are more than just acquaintances. Will is also finally doing a decent job with the bookstore he inherited–due in part to the time Kim spent helping in the shop after the events of the previous book.

Kim may be an accomplished liar, but there are things that I see in him.

“You can’t expect me to take your word for things when I could work myself into a frenzy about them instead.”

“Any light on the horizon?”

“Only that cast by everything on fire.”

“I don’t know why you have a ’phone when you hate answering it so much.”

Because it’s expected, of course.

The problem is that Kim’s brother has been accused of murder, and if Kim doesn’t find him not guilty, then Kim could end up the heir. And absolutely no one wants that.

“Or will he be tried as a peer?”

“He will not. It’s a courtesy title, so he’ll face a jury of twelve ordinary people, and all the prosecution will have to do is put him on the stand and let him talk.”

This feels like the final book in the series, with both Kim and Will settled into themselves and what they are going to do with their lives.

The only thing I’m not 100% sure about this story is how things ended between Kim and his father.

Otherwise, I very much enjoyed this series.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10


Society of Gentlemen

The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh (2015) 

Set in London in 1818.

This is the prequel to the previous three books, a short story about two somewhat minor characters who appear in the other books: Gabriel Ashleigh, brother to Lord Maltravers, who is, at best, a knave.

Gabriel has lost everything–literally everything–to Francis Webster, the man who his brother hates and tormented through school.

Throughout the stories, Gabriel is seen as open, handsome, and not very bright. He actually comes off better in this short story than he does in the following books.

Though he played a lot because everyone did, Ash wasn’t one of nature’s gamesters, preferring games of pure chance to those involving skill. He found the tension of piquet sickening rather than exciting, and disliked the silences. He couldn’t keep track of what had been played with any great accuracy, certainly not after the first few hands, and had no sense for what cards were likely to come up.

I’m very glad I didn’t read this first, because I did not like the way Frances arranged his meeting with Ash. And how he took advantage of the situation he, himself, created, albeit not on purpose.

Publisher: Loveswept

A Fashionable Indulgence (2016) 

Set in London in 1819

As I continue to read backwards through this series, we come to the story of Justin and Harry.

Harry’s father was disowned by his family, and took his wife’s name, Gordon. The family ended up on the continent when they were charged with sedition and incitement to riot when Harry was 12. After the death of his remaining son and grandson, grandfather Vane seeks out Harry, so that he might have a male to inherit.

Julius is a dandy who befriends few, and speaks to fewer of his past. After Richard Vane finds Harry and takes him from where he was working at a bookstore, Julius is given the task of taking the young man and turning him into a young gentleman.

“Manners are so important.” He glanced at Gideon. “And, as you observed, he cannot learn them at home.”

“Harry’s home is with me now,” Gideon pointed out.

“So it is,” Mr. Norreys agreed amiably.

“In any case,” Lord Richard put in, “Julius is quite right. I am very happy to introduce Harry to his peers, but as to helping him achieve the correct style there is nobody better qualified than Julius. You doubtless know the Norreys of Wiltshire, Cousin Gideon.”

Julius feels himself Pygmalion to Harry’s Galatea, and in matters of style, he is correct.

“G-good afternoon, uh, J-Julius.”

“Without stuttering. You are permitted to speak. I may even, on occasion, require your opinion.” He obviously noticed Harry’s alarm. “You need not fear being wrong. I shall tell you if you are wrong.”

“Yes, sir.”


“Julius.” Harry just managed to bite back the “sir.”

In matters of life and love, however, Harry is no innocent to be taken advantage of, which is a major strength of this story. It initially feels as if the power between the two is uneven, but it becomes clear that although Julius may be a man of society, he is nearly naive when it comes to some aspects of the world, and I quite liked that.

I want you to decide, so it’s nothing to do with me. I want to remain untouched by it. I want it to be out of my hands, not my choice, forgettable.

I’m a coward.

“He’s doing remarkably well. Blood will out.”

Julius tilted his head, acknowledging the sentiment rather than agreeing. In his view, Harry would be a success because of his modesty, his quick smile and eager pursuit of enjoyment, the sheer joy he took in his new life. None of those were characteristics of the well-bred people he knew.

There is, of course, lots of boinking in this story. But there is also a very good story. I enjoyed the slow discovery of Julius’ past, and why he was so damaged. I liked seeing Harry come into his own, and be forced to decide what was truly important to him. And I liked Verona, who was in a weaker position than Harry, and had some regret over how she used him.

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 8/10

Reread: June 2020 | 8/10

A Seditious Affair (2016) 

Set in London in 1819

This is the second book, in the series I am reading backwards.

I read the first chapter a couple months ago, and put it down, because I wasn’t comfortable reading about BDSM.

I mean, reading boinking passages in romance embarrasses me. BDSM? (turns bright red thinking about it)

But after reading the third book in this series, I became very interested in the characters of Dominic and Silas, so I decided I’d go back and read this story.

I’m glad I did, because I really liked this story.

First, how could I not like a story that quotes Jeremy Bentham?

(T)he author argued that it was a human failing to condemn other people for their different preferences. From a man’s possessing a thorough aversion to a practice himself, the transition is but too natural to his wishing to see all others punished who give into it.

Second, the focus of the story before the BDSM is the politics of the time. Silas Mason is a radical who agitates for the rights of all men and a democratic society.

(I)t shouldn’t be fucking charity that kept children from starving and the old folk from freezing, as if the country belonged to the rich by right and everyone else lived at their sufferance and by their whim.

Politics runs through the story, both Silas’ radical politics and Dom’s Tory politics and his worries about both radical’s like Silas but also where his part is going.

“(T)hey are wrong, and dangerous, but if we cannot prove our case to be the better one, if we can only counter them by throwing away the rights and liberties that we have held precious for centuries, what does that say for our case?”

(That feels a bit familiar right now.)

But as I said, the other thread running through this story is about BDSM, and Dom’s feeling that his desires are wrong (and Richard’s wishes to keep Dom from getting killed).

“The fact is, Richard thinks there is— uh— there is something wrong with me.” Such simple words, so hard to face. “Well, Silas does not, that’s all. And I begin to disagree with Richard myself.”

“I should hope so.”

I think that statement stands by itself, with regard to so many things.

As does this one:

Dominic had had broken bones that had hurt less. And one forgot the reality of pain once the bones healed.

That’s very close to something I’ve said myself.

This is a fascinating story that does have BDSM, but it also has radical politics and a look at how deep-held beliefs can change over time.

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 8.5/10

Reread: June 2020 | 8/10

A Gentleman’s Position (2016)

Set in London in 1820

I am, apparently, reading this series backwards. I’d picked up the previous two books and read a few pages but wasn’t in the mood for them at the time.

Richard is a younger son, an honorable man, and the one who has arranged safety and security for his group of friends with similar desires. He also has been rather narrow-minded for someone who’s desires are illegal.

Which is what made him a complicated characters.

What initially made Richard likable for me was his love and protectiveness of his brother.

Philip struggled with the written word as badly as any untaught rustic, and no amount of beating at Harrow had helped him acquire scholarship.

This is not the first or even second book I’ve read where a character has dyslexia, and to be clear, neither main character he has reading difficulties, but as common as dyslexia is in the population, I am glad to see it appear in fiction.

It also colors how Richard sees those he loved and cares for–as needing protection, whether they require protection or not.

It also dovetails with his sense of honor, which is of the utmost importance to him.

Keep your hands off the staff. It was as simple as that. There could be no justice where one party had all the power and the other risked his livelihood with refusal. Therefore, one did not even ask, because one could never be sure that a “yes” didn’t mask “because I must.”

Which is why the two characters are kept apart–because Richard is the master and David is his valet. And Richard doesn’t believe they can have an equal relationship. Especially, as it is pointed out if Richard fell in love with a female servant, at least he could offer her marriage and the (minimal) protection that offered.

Which is what makes M/M historicals so interesting to me–the secret societies and houses and arrangements that were created to allowed these relationships to work.

“Is there anything you do not excel at?”

“Plenty. I just don’t do those things, and so nobody finds out.”

Oh yes! I’ve pointed out to Michael that one of the reasons I tend be “right” about things is that (except for fun) I rarely argue unless I am certain of my point.

As far as reading the third book in the series first, the only issue I had was that there were a lot of characters, and I did get some of background characters confused. It wasn’t a huge issue, but it was a weakness when I hadn’t read the previous two books first.

But it was an interesting and enjoyable story.

Publisher: Loveswept

Rating: 7/10

Reread: August 2020 | 7/10


Band Sinister (2018)

Set in England in the 1800s.

This is probably the sweetest KC Charles book I’ve read. It’s a M/M romance, and there is boinking, but there is less boinking than I’ve come to expect, and I absolutely adore the main characters.

Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in seclusion. Their mother was a scandal, their father squandered his fortune, forcing them to be dependent upon their aunt, who is acting in what she believes to be their best interests. Never able to leave the small town where they live, Guy spends much of his time continuing his studies, while Amanda has written a gothic novel–loosely based upon their neighbor and his friends.

“It’s all perfectly decent,” Amanda said. “Or at least, if it isn’t, the indecent parts are only hinted at, which means they’re in your head. I can’t be held responsible for your thoughts going awry.” “Oh yes you can,” Guy said with feeling.

Sir Philip Rookwood was never supposed to be their heir. But his older brother ran off with a married woman, and then died, leaving Philip an estate in which he has no interest. So he spends his time with his friends–a supposed Hellfire club called the Murder.

Sir Philip never hosted balls, or dinners, or made any effort to meet his peers or cultivate his tenants. Upsettingly for the narrative, he was an excellent if eccentric landlord, possessed of a superbly efficient steward. This was deeply resented by landowners who had more moral character but were less prompt in carrying out repairs.

They have some rather shocking ideas.”

“Shocking ideas about rocks?”


“Goodness,” Amanda said dubiously.

The plot is similar in some ways to Georgette Heyer’s Venetia, but different in important ways to make a unique and lovely story. Where it’s similar is the horse riding accident, and the love the two siblings have for one another, where the elder of the two has given up much of their life to look out for the other.

Except that the romance is between Guy and Philip (although Amanda is not left dependent up on her brother and his lover at the end of the book). There are of course misunderstandings, some of which were due fact that homosexual men were forced to keep themselves hidden, lest they be jailed or even executed. But those misunderstandings are always cleared up by the two of them talking to each other.

The Bible does tell us that the sins of the parent are to be visited upon the child.”

“The New Testament tells us that children belong to the kingdom of God,” Frisby said. “And that the erring woman was forgiven, and that only he who is without sin is entitled to cast a stone at her. I’d rather hold to that.”

On of best parts of the book were the love between Guy and Amanda. They clearly and truly are devoted to each other, and one will do anything for the other.

“Don’t talk nonsense.”

“You look wonderful,” Guy repeated. “Because you aren’t feverish and you aren’t lying there barely breathing and I’m not afraid of— of— Don’t do that again, Manda, please.”

I also liked that although all the characters had horrors in their past, their love and reliance for one another allows them to be strong and relatively healthy.

(T)hat’s how life tends to work in all its aspects. We try things out, and make mistakes, and recover, and learn from our experiences. We live, we learn.

I think if you’re going to forgive someone, you should do it, and not keep dragging things up afterwards, or it isn’t really forgiveness, is it?

OBVIOUSLY, I loved this bit.

“Glorious,” Philip said, shoulders shaking. “It takes a truly special gift to find indecency in flowers.”

“Not at all,” Street said. “They’re disgraceful things. Notoriously promiscuous with bees and butterflies.”

The one thing I’d ding the story for is that there are a LOT of characters, all with their own complicated backstories, and to be honest it would have been helpful to have a cast of characters to keep them straight at the beginning.

Otherwise, I really loved this story.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8.5/10

Unfit to Print (2018)

Gil is the son of a wealthy man and that man’s housemaid, but unlike many, Mr Lawes claimed his son.

Gil had spent his childhood here under his father’s carelessly affectionate eye. The old man might have played the fool, or the knave, with his housemaid, but he had never failed in his financial obligations to their son, and had formally acknowledged Gil his own when she’d died. That was more than many would have done. Gil had been christened with his mother’s surname and inherited her looks; Pa could well have avoided presenting the county with a brown-skinned proof of his misbehaviour.

Unfortunately, when his father did, Gil’s brother refused to honor their father’s wishes.

Then his father had died, and Matthew had inherited, and Gil had never seen the place since.

There are standing orders to the servants, Matthew’s man of business had said. If you set foot on the property you are to be whipped.

Vikram has been a lawyer for years, fighting (often for free) for the poor and dispossessed–much to the chagrin of his parents, who wanted him to represent his people, perhaps in the house of Commons.

But as much as he isn’t made to feel at him in England, he isn’t sure India would be better.

I count myself an Indian, not an Englishman.”


“So what if I went home and didn’t feel as though I belonged?” Vikram blurted the words. “If ‘home’ wasn’t home at all, what— who— would I be then? What if I was an Englishman there?”

(I really like that passage.)

Instead, he ends up searching for a missing teen, whose parents are desperate to find him, and turning a blind eye to how he brings in money and helps the family.

When Vikram’s search leads him to Hollywell Street, he doesn’t expect to find his long-lost school friend.

I really really really like KJ Charles’ stories. They always have a varied cast of characters, and although they are full of boinking, I’m okay with that for the characters and the stories.

I also like how the men talk around feelings that men of that time weren’t particularly allowed to express–especially feelings that were illegal.

“Even your ghastly cat.” “

He’s not my cat.”

“No, of course not. He just lives here. How long has he ‘just lived here’?”

“Since I moved in,” Gil admitted. “He turned up and wouldn’t go.”

“You named him, correct? You feed him. This is his sole or primary residence.”

“Don’t you lawyer at me.”

“Gil, this is your cat. You have a home, a business, and a cat. It’s more than I have achieved.”

“You can have the cat,” Gil said with feeling. “Take him.”

I did have a slight issue with the resolution of Gil’s work. I wasn’t sure it felt true–that Gil was ready to give up his anger and his burden so quickly and to turn from the way he’d supported himself. But I suppose that could have come from more internalizing than the story had time for.

As I said, these are boinking books, and not for everyone, but I really really like them.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 8/10

Wanted, a Gentleman (2018) 

Set in England in 1805.

Theodore Swann runs the Matrimonial Advertiser, a paper for helping men and women find spouses. He also writes gothic novels under a pen name.

Martin St. Vincent is a freed slave who has done well for himself after being granted his release at age 18. When the daughter of the family who owned and later freed him gets herself into trouble, Martin is asked to discover what is happening and put a stop to it.

“Well, we are all commercial. This is the age of commerce. A man is worth his value at the bank.” “I know what a man is worth,” Martin said, the words tasting as sour as the beer.

What I found particularly interesting is that Martin was based loosely upon the character of Cesar Picton–a slave who had been freed by his owners and remained friends with them.

But that’s only tangential to the story. The story is finding out what Miss Conroy is up to, and how they can get her out of the mess.

The story did go in an unexpected direction, namely the past and behavior of Theodore. I can’t say I felt that the twist/surprise was at all a surprise, except in how relatively easily Martin forgave Swann.

Like the previous book, the story was fine, but it was definitely not one of my favorites, even if there were parts I liked very much.

I don’t think you have to be thankful that someone refrained from doing something terrible to you.

Publisher: KJC Books

Rating: 6.5/10

The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting (2021)

The Gentle Art of Fortune HuntingSet in Historical London

Robin Loxleigh and his sister Marianne have come to London to seek their fortunes, each seeking a wealthy spouse.

Unfortunately for Robin, the young lady he has set his sights for, has a very protective uncle who is determined to prove that Robin is nothing more than a a fortune hunter.

Robin and his sister are maintaining themselves in London primarily through Robin’s skill with cards–the money the need to be dressed properly and seen in all the right places.

John Hartlebury is fiercely protective of his sister and his niece, and as much as he loves his niece, he doesn’t believe an attractive young man would court her unless he knew she had an inheritance–and no one is supposed to know she has an inheritance.

So he looks into Robin.

"Wins fifty or sixty pounds a night.”

“That’s not huge.” It was vast amounts by normal standards, of course, entire sections of the annual accounts to John Hartlebury the prudent brewer, but mere tokens to a gaming baronet.

“It’s not breaking the bank, no. It’s the kind of money you can win at a gaming hell without attracting too much attention. The question is how many gaming hells he’s winning sixty pounds a night at, and how often.”

What he sees he doesn’t like, and so is determined to get Robin away from his niece at all costs.

“You seem a devoted pair.”

Loxleigh looked up from his hand. “I dare say domesticity is mocked in sophisticated company, but in truth, I don’t care. It has been the two of us for a long time. Marianne deserves everything London has to give her, and she will have it if I have anything to say to the matter.”

His hazel eyes were different when he said that. Alive, but not smiling, not smiling in the least. Hart watched him as he looked down at his cards again, and thought, So that’s what you look like when you’re telling the truth.

This is a very sweet story, however it’s enemies to lovers which–is a trope I quite frequently have problems with. That isn’t to say that it’s done badly, it’s just doesn’t work for me. Which means much of the first part of the story–where Robin and Hart are sparring and dancing around each other–was problematic for me.

What did work was that both were incredibly protective of their families, and were obviously willing to do absolutely anything to keep them from coming to harm–in any way they could. For Robin this meant cheating and cards if necessary, and looking for a young lady with a fortune to marry–even though Robin himself had no interest in women–young or otherwise.

I may not have liked the way either man acted in some instances, but I couldn’t fault why they were doing what they could. And both had a history that made them especially protective. And really, for all he was acting the scoundrel, Robin had the greater natural compassion, which made it hard for me to be mad at his actions.

It was a good story, but because of the enemies to lovers trope, I don’t think it will end up being one of my favorites.

Publisher : KJC Books

Rating: 8/10


Another Place in Time (2014) by Tamara Allen, Joanna Chambers, K.J. Charles, Kaje Harper, Jordan L. Hawk, Aleksandr Voinov

This is an anthology of historical M/M romances.

“Office Romance” by Tamara Allen is set in NYC in 1920.

Both characters had fought in Europe during the war, but their injuries were quite different–Casey Gladwin was wounded in action, while Foster Weatherly barely survived the flu. The two were the last hired in their office, and are pitted against one another when an efficiency expert decides that only one of their jobs is needed.

The world was changing so quickly in the 1920s, it’s little wonder that everyone went a little bit mad after the end of the war.

I quite liked this story.

“The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh” by K.J. Charles

I’d read this previously, as part of another series.

“Unfair in Love and War” by Kaje Harper is set after D-Day but before Germany has surrendered.

Warren Burch has finally returned home, having stayed away after the death of his younger brother in the war. Polio killed his sister and left him with a shortened leg, but he wants to move home and do something for war effort, rather than just having a job. He discovers that a handsome young Swiss emigre has moved next door to his mother, and that the youths who haven’t gone off to war are convinced the man is a German spy.

I also liked this story, with the war looming in the background as it was, and mistrust rampant throughout the country (and world).

This was another period of tremendous change, and although this story doesn’t address most of those changes, the feel of the time is there.

“Carousel” by Jordan L. Hawk is a short story featuring her characters from here Widdershins series and is an historical supernatural fantasy.

This story rather aggravated me, because the boinking was literally tacked onto the end of the story. The mystery of the missing boy was resolved, and then the two went home and boinked. It aggravated me because it didn’t need the boinking at all, and would have been a stronger story without that bit tacked onto the end.

“Deliverance” by Aleksandr Voinov is an historical about a knight Templar.

This story was not for me.

Published by the authors

Rating: 7/10

Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy (2015) edited by Jordan Castillo Price

This is, like all anthologies, a variety of stories, some of which I enjoyed, one of which I utterly despised, and some of which were MEH. In other words, a good selection and variety.

“A Queer Trade” (2015) by KJ Charles

I’ve read this before, and enjoyed it the second time through.

“Is that your stuff making that bloody noise?”

Tredarloe’s mouth dropped open. “You can hear it?”

“I can’t hear it. That’s the problem.” 

“Yes!” Tredarloe said. “That’s exactly what it’s meant to sound like!”

“It sounds like something you can’t hear?” Tredarloe just gave him a look, and Ned shrugged. “All right, yes. It sounds like something I can’t hear, and I’ve been not hearing it for three days.”

KJ Charles writes diverse British historicals–in this story one of the characters is Black, and buys and collects waste paper to sell. Racism exists in this world, as does homophobia, but they’re not the central parts of the story.

My point being the true past isn’t white-washed or treated as nicer than it was, but her characters have lives and adventures that are outside of their being Black or gay.

he’d learned his letters off a book of fairy tales, and if you could trust that, which you might as well after everything today, throwing magic stuff in rivers never worked for long.

I still really love that bit.

Publisher: JCP Books LLC

Rating: 8.5/10

Short Stories

“Five for Heaven” (2019) A Charm of Magpies 3.5Set in Nagasaki, three years after A Flight of Magpies (15 pages)

“A Confidential Problem” (2016) Society of Gentleman 2.5 Set in England in 1820 (14 pages)

“A Private Miscellany” (2016) Society of Gentlemen 3.5 Set in London & Berlin in 1821 (25 pages)

“Wanted, An Author” (2018) Wanted, a Gentleman 1.5 Set in London, 24 February, 1807 (14 pages)

These are codas and outtakes from various series. None are stand-alone stories, but if you’ve read the books then you should enjoy these.

As a bonus for me, several of the stories didn’t even have any boinking!