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’ve read a few Regency novels in my time and I have to say that The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles is a perfect LGBTQ Regency on par with Bridgerton with just enough scandal and intrigue to keep your pulse racing. One of the reasons that I like it so much is that both the main characters, Gareth and Joss, are three dimensional with flaws and issues. Both characters have a clear voice and are distinct enough that the author doesn’t need to label which is which for the reader.
Another reason I liked the story was the way it was set up. Both men meet, but as strangers. Then they meet again, discovering each other all over again, in an entirely new setting. This set up leads to conflict but allows the romance to come to a slow simmer, which is far more exciting for readers. I also love the intrigue and secrets that get revealed along the way. The story is complex and intriguing. And the author sticks true to the language and behaviors of the time.
If you love Bridgerton or Regency novels in general, you will love this novel by KJ Charles. It is as I said a perfect LGBTQ Regency with two characters you will fall in love with and want to read more about. As this is book one in the series, I can’t wait for more from the author.
Rating: 5 out of 5 gold guineas