30 Books in 30 Days, Vol. 3
I feel like this is one of those books I will re-read and then instantly bump up to five stars, but for now I’m leaving it at 4.5 rounded down because those are just my feelings right now. Despite the subject matter (smuggling! hiding things in swamps! thievery! treason! murder! leaving people to drown! worse things I don’t feel comfortable putting an exclamation mark after!), the relationship between our two main characters, Sir Gareth Inglis and Joss Doomsday, is a sweet, quiet one, where they get to know each other slowly, go on nerd walks together in the swamp to look at bugs (with some excellent sex scenes as well, although the one with the log frankly just sounded uncomfortable), and have intense conversations about social inequity.
Shit, I feel like I might be talking myself into bumping this up to five stars right now . . . let’s see how the rest of this review goes.
Gareth has just inherited land and a title unexpectedly when his father dies and leaves it to him. He has not seen or spoken with his father since he was six years old when he was foisted off onto his uncle, who was far from nurturing. Gareth is a bit unprepared to be a lord, and that’s before he realizes that his sometime-lover in London (who he knew as Kent) is the local head of the Doomsday smuggling clan, and they get into all sorts of class and legal clashes before things settle down and they get shmoopsy with each other (in a good way). Joss has his own problems, mostly to do with his ne’er-do-well uncle, and how his business seems to be weirdly tangled up in the affairs of Gareth’s deceased father. As discussed previously, things get all sorts of illegal.
I really loved the characters here and how they navigated their complex situation. I love when romance couples TALK to each other, and there are so many good conversations in here. The secondary characters were great as well. The dynamic between Joss and Gareth reminded me very strongly of that between Dom and Silas in one of my other favorite KJC books, A Seditious Affair, though the characters have very different personalities. The class conflict here was very reminiscent of the one in Affair, and how it’s all tangled up with one of the characters being a criminal (here smuggling, there sedition), but them learning from each other despite and because of their circumstances, and building something real on top of that foundation. Gah, it’s so good.
I just read the summary of book two in this duology and realized who it was going to be about and got really excited, so that’s also where I’m at now.
Okay, so I haven’t bumped it up to five stars right now as I finish typing, but I’m telling you I can feel it coming.
CBR BINGO: In the Wild (because of Joss and Gareth’s nerdy swamp walks with bugs, and also the marsh is a really important part of the plot).