Gareth Inglis, unwanted child turned dismissed law clerk, unexpectedly inherits his absent father’s title and country estate. Tench House is situated in Romney Marsh, a remote wetland not-so-secretly controlled by smuggling gangs. Much to Gareth’s surprise, his local area is under the control of the Doomsday clan, led by none other than his one-time lover.Joss Doomsday is confident, charming, and eminently reasonable – and on the Marsh, his word is as good as law. But he is eager to avoid Gareth, who once spurned him in a fit of melancholy. At least until Gareth unwittingly puts his sister’s freedom at stake. As the dust of this treacherous first encounter settles and the two form an unlikely partnership, peril encroaches on them from all sides. The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is an adventurous Regency romance populated by swashbuckling smugglers as well as prickly high society. It is also somewhat of a naturalist’s book; Gareth’s explorations out on the Marsh taught me a surprising amount about the great diving beetle. There are stolen fortunes, dangerous missions under cover of night, a lady scandalously wearing trousers, and murders to boot. But the real heart of the book lies in healing trauma and finding love (in partners as well as family). Gareth and Joss are shaped by their experiences, by their relationship to one another, and the end of the book finds them better situated for happiness than they’ve ever been before.
The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles, (List Price: 16.99, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 9781728255859, March 2023)
Reviewed by Kaley Lowman, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina