Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Subtle Blood by KJ Charles
Narrator: Cornell Collins
Series: The Will Darlings Adventure #3
Published by Tantor Audio on November 30, 2021
Length: 8 hours, 37 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan--disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.
And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.
With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.
Will and Kim are enjoying the calm after their last big adventure bringing down the Zodiac criminal organization. However, it’s the calm before the storm and what a storm it is. KJ Charles writes a wonderful blend of gay romance, history, mystery, and adventure in this post-WWI era series.
Subtle Blood is the third book in a series that are strongly connected for the character and relationship building, but in a pinch, a new reader might grab it up out of order because the author fills in enough along the way.
Will is a WWI trench warfare sniper and assassin who came back changed, so has a hard time settling into the quiet of running the used and rare bookshop he inherited from his uncle. He’s a rough around the edges, grumpy sort who doesn’t have a lot of respect for the Establishment or the Upper Crust. This makes his secret relationship with a Marquis’ second son something of a wonder to him.
Kim came through the war first as a vocal protester and then a secret agent, disowned by family and most friends, and something of an enigma. They met during an adventure and had a sometimes acrimonious partnership and growing relationship since then.
After the close of their last adventure when Kim was let go from the Bureau and his engagement broke up, he’s been hanging out helping Will at the shop. Then Kim’s bombastic, snobbish older brother gets caught as the chief suspect in a murder at his exclusive private club. Will is about to get up close and personal with more aristocrats and, in particular, the family who kicked out Kim. Who knows if their fledgling relationship will make it, but that is assuming they survive the latest adventure.
This Will Darling Adventure series captivated me from the moment I put in my earbuds and started listening to Cornell Collins introduce irascible Will and sly Kim along with Will’s bestie, the sensible Welsh Maisie, and Kim’s vibrant fiancée Lady Phoebe.
The historical setting of post-WWI London and the Roaring Twenties, the complex personalities, and the twisting suspenseful and action-packed plotting all drew me in.
This third book was equally as strong as the first two and brought up that which I have been curious about all along- an encounter with the family that I have only had described when Kim talked of his past and family to Will. That was heart-wrenching the way they were to Kim and I was cheering Will on to lose his temper and punch both Kim’s father and brother. Trust me, violence was the answer- or murder, but that is frowned upon so…
All in all, this was riveting and I was sorry when it was over. I’m not sure if this was the last of the series, but I would love to have more. Those who enjoy spicy M/M romance paired with historical mystery should grab these up and particularly in audiobook format.
As I said, Cornell Collins was tres magnifique as working class Will and Maisie and upper class Kim and Phoebe along with the broader cast of characters. His narration kept me focused and deep into the story. I will definitely be watching for more of his work.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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