On the one hand, I wish I would have read this sooner, because it’s great. On the other, I wish I would have saved it, because the sequel seems to be postponed indefinitely for some ground-up retooling, and I would prefer to have it as soon as possible. I found the worldbuilding here to be one of the more intriguing urban fantasy set-ups I’ve read, especially when you factor in that a large part of it uses the consequences of WWI in such a thoughtful way, with the War, and the War Beneath. You can definitely read this on its own as a standalone, but I hope K.J. Charles does continue the series eventually.
So the premise here is that disgraced former soldier Saul Lazenby is unable to find decent work, except with a crackpot named Major Peabody who is convinced magic exists, and who possesses a fierce ambition to make some sort of important discovery. In the course of his “work” for Peabody, Saul keeps running across the mysterious Randolph Glyde, who refuses to divulge his true occupation and purposes, and accuses Saul of being up to no good. As their run-ins continue, it becomes apparent something else is going on, and the two men get past their antagonism in a rather sexy way (also, a sweet way, as they are both lonely and craving human contact after the trauma of the war).
As stated before, I loved the worldbuilding here, and I also ended up loving the main characters, although the secondary ones weren’t as fleshed out here as hers usually are. I suspect part of that is that they are mean to be further developed in later books. I also didn’t know, and it’s worth knowing before going in, that this is set in the same world as her previous book, The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. You can read this one on its own, but I suspect I should still have read them the other way round, as that one takes place about twenty years previous.