Saturday, 30 July 2022

CBR14 Book 18: "Slippery Creatures" by K.J. Charles

Page count: 264 pages
Rating: 4 stars
CBR14 Bingo: Snake (SPOILER: being a thoroughly disreputable sort, Kim also turns out to betray Will at least once during the story)

Will Darling has inherited his late uncle's bookshop and is grateful for the fact. After serving in World War I, most of his skills involve killing swiftly and efficiently, not really a commodity on the post-war job markets back in England. Now he just needs to get some idea of all the books actually in the shop and get on with being a bookseller. Then some very shifty people show up and demand that Will give them information, or very bad things might start happening. Will has no idea what information they want, and he certainly doesn't react well to threats.

The thuggish criminals are followed by officious men from the war office, claiming that Will is in possession of secret information and that he'd do well to pass it on to them. Even if he knew what they were talking about, Will isn't in the mood to just be ordered about - it's peacetime now, and he's done being the obedient soldier. He's puzzled by the threats and demands and sets about going through his uncle's very disordered correspondence to find some clues. He also befriends the charming and handsome Kim Secretan, who offers to help with the search for the mysterious and likely dangerous information. 

As Will and Kim grow closer, it becomes obvious that Kim is more than he seems at first, not to mention that there is a mutual attraction between them. Their search for answers uncovers secrets that could mean very real danger for tens of thousands of people, and Will is determined to keep it out of the hands of the criminals. Will's friendship with occasional benefits with Kim comes to a halt as he discovers that the attractive man has betrayed him. He wants nothing more to do with the man, but might not have a choice when he finds himself chloroformed and abducted to a remote house in the country. 

I've seen so many positive write-ups of K.J. Charles' Will Darling Adventures and this summer, I was determined to finally get through the series. Slippery Creatures is the first in a trilogy, with the working class Will Darling as one of our protagonists and the aristocratic Kim Secretan (what a great name for a man who's so full of secrets) as the second. There is a developing romance, secrets, organised crime, violent thugs, officious government agents, any number of dusty books that might hide vital information, kidnapping, loyal supporting characters and more. 

I really liked that Charles has set her books in the post World War I-era, not a time period where you find as many historical romances or mysteries. Will is rather adrift after serving on the battlefields in France for four years, and finding his feet in the new post-war world would be challenging for anyone, even if there weren't sinister thugs and government types badgering you for information you're not even sure exists, or if it does, where in the thousands of books in your store it may be hidden. It's no wonder he turns to the genial, charming, handsome and very helpful Kim, who of course has his own agenda.

I really like both Will and Kim as characters, for all that Kim is a bit of a snake. I love Maisie, Will's seamstress friend from Wales, and lady Phoebe, Kim's bubbly and incredibly friendly fiancee. This was a fast-paced and exciting book, with a very promising developing romance. There is no HEA or even really a HFN, but since this is the first of a trilogy, I wasn't really expecting it. I'm sure that all will be resolved by the end of book three.

Judging a book by its cover: I'm really sure if it's just me, but every time I look at this, even thought I know that Will is just sitting on a regular chair, my brain insists, just for a fraction of a second, as seeing it as a wheelchair. Which is a bit odd, no? I think it's because of the dagger, the metal of it makes me want to think it's a wheel. Apart from that, cracking cover design. 
Crossposted by Cannonball Read

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