I have to start by saying what a fan I am of Will Darling, how much I adore him and enjoyed the first book in his series, Slippery Creatures. Hence, why I was keen to read Charles’s trad-pubbed romance, The Secret Lives of Country Gentleman. Would her unique voice and style be “standardized” for a wider audience, or could Charles retain everything that makes her self-published m/m romance unique? Also, with a selling point of “Bridgerton meets Poldark,” I was doubly intrigued. (I’m still mulling how much I liked this. But let’s consider Secret Lives on its own merit.) The publishers’ details for our orientation:
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 man in a London molly house, 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. (more…)