The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, The Doomsday Books #1 by K.J. Charles

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is the first book in a planned duet from KJ Charles, a historical story filled with suspense and action. New baronet Gareth is juggling his new inheritance and unexpected family secrets when he finds out that the charming local smuggler Joss Doomsday is none other than his last intimate encounter in London. Drama, action and romance ensues as Gareth and Joss try to survive family expectations and secrets.

From the blurb:

Bridgerton meets Poldark in this sweeping LGBTQIA+ Regency romance from award-winning author KJ Charles

Abandoned by his father as a small child, Sir Gareth Inglis has grown up prickly, cold, and well-used to disappointment. Even so, he longs for a connection, falling headfirst into a passionate anonymous affair that's over almost as quickly as it began. Bitter at the sudden rejection, Gareth has little time to lick his wounds: his father has died, leaving him the family title, a rambling manor on the remote Romney Marsh...and the den of cutthroats and thieves that make its intricate waterways their home.

Joss Doomsday has run the Doomsday smuggling clan since he was a boy. His family is his life...which is why when the all-too-familiar new baronet testifies against Joss's sister for a hanging offense, Joss acts fast, blackmailing Gareth with the secret of their relationship to force him to recant. Their reunion is anything but happy and the path forward everything but smooth, yet after the dust settles, neither can stay away. It's a long road from there—full of danger and mysteries to be solved—yet somehow, along the way, this well-mannered gentleman may at last find true love with the least likely of scoundrels.

SNik's Review:

First in duet (The Doomsday Books). Historical suspense. POC representation. Found family. 

Newly inheriting a baronet title, along with manor and funds, Sir Gareth gladly leaves London behind and tries to establish a family connection with an unexpected half-sister and follows his neglectful father’s naturalist studies of the surrounding marshlands in order to find some commonality. However, an encounter with smugglers reveals that his last illicit encounter in London was actually with the local hero Josiah Doomsday, who protects his family and locals alongside his job of procuring illegal items. 

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen includes beautifully written descriptions of the locale, interesting and compelling secondary cast of characters, discussions of historical legalities, politics and the necessity of hiding same sex relationships and the suspense of a secret plot Gareth and Joss must uncover together. 

I really enjoyed the push and pull of Gareth and Joss in their interactions, which included lust, anger, forgiveness, protectiveness, understanding, companionship and love. 

Both Gareth and Joss have important and well developed backgrounds, and share their struggles with each other as they build a relationship, after many stumbles and bettering their communication so they can be together. 

Danger was ever present, personal growth for both Gareth and Joss, and a well deserved HFN, this book was entertaining from beginning to end.

Rating: 5 Stars

The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen is available to buy in ebook, audio and paperback formats.