Tag Team Review: Slippery Creatures (Will Darling Adventures #1) by K.J. Charles

Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing...until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else.

Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger.

And then Will discovers the truth about Kim. His identity, his past, his real intentions. Enraged and betrayed, Will never wants to see him again.

But Will possesses knowledge that could cost thousands of lives. Enemies are closing in on him from all sides—and Kim is the only man who can help.

A 1920s m/m romance trilogy in the spirit of Golden Age pulp fiction.

3.25 Heart average
Adam - 3 Hearts

After living through the Great War, Will Darling is happy to quietly manage his late uncle’s second-hand bookshop. His sedate life takes a turn when the bookshop starts attracting some strange visitors looking for mysterious information.

Will has no idea what’s going on, but he’s more than happy to accept the random offer of help from Kim Secretan. Kim’s charm and the mutual desire between them is just an added bonus.

I’m always a fan of KJ Charles’ theme of throwing together love interests from completely different walks of life. It makes for an interesting romance!

Will and Kim couldn’t be more different - completely different upbringings and social statuses, and very different views of the world.

But from the moment they meet, the sparks are obvious. There’s no denying the connection!

Of course, as the blurb hints, Kim has some secrets that drive a wedge between the two men.

Was it unfortunate? Yes.

Did I necessarily think it was a big deal? Not really, the two barely knew each other! I don’t think Kim owed Will anything at first.

However, I could understand Will’s hurt feelings regardless. Especially after he opened himself to Kim so quickly and easily.

Kim and Will’s relationship is very much so dictated by the events in the bookstore. They grow closer as they try to stay ahead of the odd events.

I won’t give anything away on the mystery, but I will say it was an entertaining read! A good mix of action and politics.

In fact, the book was quite gritty at times. I was hooked on the plot!

However, in the end, I felt like something was missing. It could be that the relationship took a back seat at times. Or that I couldn’t help but compare Will and Kim to some of my favourite KJ couples (Stephen and Crane, in particular!), and the two men just didn’t measure up.

Regardless, the romance just didn’t do much for me. The ending is very much so a tentative “let’s give it a go and see what happens”, so I’m hoping Will and Kim will win me over in book 2!

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 3.5 Hearts

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a historical MM connoisseur but Charles’s Magpie series is one of my favorites, and I’ve been wishy washy over what next to read of this author’s and instead of diving right in, I’ve avoided them all until now.

To say the least, I’m charmed, especially titillated by the idea that the rest of this trilogy is planned to come out this year and features one couple - all of which greatly appealed to my quirky preferences.

As per the blurb, this stars Will Darling, a somewhat hardened young fellow who’s been down on his luck having returned from the war and instead of being embraced, has had a hard go of it. When he falls into an inheritance of his uncle’s bookstore, the last thing he’s prepared for is to be embroiled in a treacherous push pull by what seems like the military and a secret society - both hell bent on getting a hold of some very nebulous but sinister knowledge that may or may not benefit mankind (depending on whose side one is on). Now Will is very practical, and just because someone demands something without due cause or adequate explanation, doesn't mean he’ll automatically comply even if he had a clue as to what everyone was making such a fuss over.

When a stranger becomes friendly and offers his help, Will can’t help but be persuaded to accept the generosity from sophisticated handsome Kim Secretan, who has plenty of his own secrets and a hidden agenda as well.

There’s no doubt Charles can write a tangled tale. Points towards making Will an upstanding character for he’s no slouch. At times, I questioned his belief that all men should play fairly and honorably which often got him into certain sticky situations, but the man is certainly no pushover, and though he doesn't hold any high opinions for the government, aristocracy, or scary faceless bullies, Will knows what’s good and just and he’s not going to be forced into anything untoward if he has any say about it!

So yes, Will is played and betrayed, and the story is fast paced with twists and turns providing plenty of mystery, a bit of suspenseful action, and a slow development of the attraction between him and Kim that results in some nice (lite dirty) smexy!

The main conflict is technically resolved, but the overall story arc remains to be further explored. There’s a fragile truce between scrappy Will and idealistic Kim at the end of this first installment, and I’m intrigued by their dynamic and am saving rating stars for what I hope will be an even bigger payoff that’s sure to come in the future adventures (and definitely, the feels) that hopefully await them!

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