Tag Team Review: The Henchmen of Zenda by K.J. Charles

Swordfights, lust, betrayal, murder: just another day for a henchman.

Jasper Detchard is a disgraced British officer, now selling his blade to the highest bidder. Currently that's Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. Michael wants the throne for himself, and Jasper is one of the scoundrels he hires to help him take it. But when Michael makes his move, things don’t go entirely to plan—and the penalty for treason is death.

Rupert of Hentzau is Michael's newest addition to his sinister band of henchmen. Charming, lethal, and intolerably handsome, Rupert is out for his own ends—which seem to include getting Jasper into bed. But Jasper needs to work out what Rupert’s really up to amid a maelstrom of plots, swordfights, scheming, impersonation, desire, betrayal, and murder.

Nobody can be trusted. Everyone has a secret. And love is the worst mistake you can make.

A retelling of the swashbuckling classic The Prisoner of Zenda from a very different point of view.

3.85~ average
Adam - 4 Hearts

Another entertaining tale from KJ Charles!

I haven’t read The Prisoner of Zenda, and so had no idea of Ruritanian romance. But I thoroughly enjoyed the outcome - a blend of adventure, political intrigue, complex characters, and an out-of-the-ordinary romance.

The book introduces us to Jasper Detchard, a mercenary with little to no scruples. He moves from one European country to the next, doing the bidding of whoever buys his sword. But Jasper has one fatal flaw - he’s incredibly loyal to the few people he considers his own.

This loyalty brings him to Ruritania, a small European country ruled by the dysfunctional and despotic Elphbergs. Jasper enters the service of Michael Elphberg, the illegitimate half-brother of the king, and soon finds himself in the middle of a grand conspiracy.

I love some good action fiction in a historical setting. ‘The Henchmen of Zenda’ delivers on that front. Ruritania is a land of intrigue, the result of a ruling family that spends a lot of time fighting amongst themselves, and that has little regard for the common people.


We see the story play out through Jasper’s POV, with the web of lies, back-stabbing, murder, and double-crossing getting more and more complicated as the story progresses.

I won’t give anything away, except to say that if you like swashbuckling tales of adventure and mayhem, this’ll be right up your alley!

While the adventure itself was highly entertaining, another big attraction as Rupert of Hentzau, a minor Ruritanian nobleman also in Michael Elphberg’s service. Where Jasper is sober and prefers to work in the shadows, Rupert is a peacock. He has a zest for life and just wants to spend his days fighting and fucking.

The attraction between Jasper and Rupert is immediate, but it takes a while for the two to admit anything more than that. They’re hard men who live hard lives, and so keep their emotions under check. But they definitely show each other how the feel in the bedroom!

This isn’t your typical MM romance. If you’re expecting grand declarations of love, you won’t find them here. But it’s very obvious that Rupert and Jasper find in each other an equal match that gives them the happiness they didn’t expect to ever want or find.


I would describe the ending as a happy ever after. It’s not your typical HEA, but these aren’t your typical MCs. It’s certainly the perfect ending for Jasper and Rupert.

If you’re looking for an MM read with with an enthralling adventure plot and don’t mind a different sort of love story, I’d definitely recommend ‘The Henchmen of Zenda’!

Lost in a Book - 3.75 Hearts

It’s official, I’ll absolutely read it if KJC writes it. The Henchmen of Zenda is an intriguing, snarky, ever changing ride with a psychopathic Duke, his hired swords, and never ending betrayals.

Please check out the warning KJC has issued on this book. It isn’t a romance but there are romantic-ish elements. There are smexy times and a very compatible pairing between the MCs. However, the romantic-ish elements should be classified as more of mutual understanding with open communication and a fond unconventional companionship.

Jasper Detchard and Rupert of Hentzau are working side by side as hired swords for Michael Elphberg, half-brother to the King of Ruritania. They immediately dislike each other as Hentzau is social with a zest for life that Jasper finds infuriating. Their wit and challenges soon turn to a partnership with benefits as they work under Elphberg and around the schemes to unseat a future king.

The plot shifts constantly throughout as circumstances change and alliances are made. I’ve never read The Prisoner of Zenda and will say that this version is definitely not for the squeamish. There is a trigger warning for abuse of a secondary character. There are also many murders that take place in detail.

The beginning and end of the story are fast paced and captivating. There was a lull throughout the middle that took a bit longer to get through but the quality of writing never falters. I appreciate the strong representation with the women characters and the support of them by the MCs. Obviously I would have liked more romantic elements because I like a side of *swoon* with my reads. However, that’s on me since we are clearly warned. I’m glad I took a chance and recommend it for those that love historical adventure.

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