Spectred Isle, by KJ Charles
Series: Green Men, Book One
Release Date: August 3, 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense…except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.
Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there’s something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.
Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.
Content Warnings for the stuff that comes with the genre
Spectred Isle might just be my new favorite book by KJ Charles. It seems that I am saying that with every new book that she is publishing, but, seriously, you all, it was incredibly good.
As always, the historical setting is palpable, which is a given with the author. This book additionally shines through both the main characters and their romance as well as the paranormal aspect that was a pure delight.
Regarding the protagonists Randolph and Saul, who both get point of views in alternating chapters, I want to mention that they are distinct characters who both find themselves in the lucky, and for them surprising, situation to meet another man who complements them perfectly. Both never even dared hope for a relationship and it was very rewarding to see them happy. They are soooo lovely together.
I especially like that they are so open with each other and don’t take anything for granted. I absolutely love their banter. Randolph’s sarcastic side is a joy and I respect that he is just as easily honest and serious when it matters.
Their romance starts slowly and is based on many coincidences that the paranormal plot brings about. The way it is integrated into the story is smooth, though, and not implausible or ridiculous.
Speaking of the plot, I think it is a good idea to read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal before you read this book, because you will find some lovely references, but it is not at all necessary. The story offers suspense, mystery, and action, and my personal highlights are the several scary scenes that had my blood pumping and me squealing, with delight and horror. Oh gosh, I love to be scared, it seems. Those scenes are so creepy and the way you just glide into them is exciting in all the good ways.
This is the first part in a new series and the main story arc is solved satisfactorily but there is many more to come. Who unleashed an ancient evil and what role does the Shadow mystery play? I cannot wait to find out more about it and I’m very much looking forward to the next book, Last Couple in Hell, that features Sam, whom we already met in Simon Feximal and this book, and Joanie, a bisexual woman – the blurb sounds amazing and I fear January 2018 is way too far away…
A highly recommended book, combining romance and paranormal suspense with the very best characters. Enjoy!
KJ Charles is a writer and freelance editor. She lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat.
KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She specialises in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and also edits children’s fiction.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.