22. A sequel: The Sugared Game (The Will Darling Adventures #2) by KJ Charles
List Progress: 9/30
I liked Slippery Creatures, the first book of The Will Darling Adventures by KJ Charles. I loved The Sugared Game, the second book in the trilogy. It feels like all of the aspects of the first installment were tightened, shined and enhanced and the end result is incredibly fun. I slammed through a lot of this book in quick succession, and the fact that the final book in the trilogy isn’t out yet has me in mourning. I may have to turn my attention to some of KJ Charles’ many other series, because I don’t know if I can wait to get the next one in my hands.
The Sugared Game picks up a few months after the conclusion of Slippery Creatures, in the 1920’s. Will Darling, Great War veteran and bookstore owner, has been left high and dry in his tempestuous affair with gentleman spy Kim Secretan. But after a strange encounter while out with a friend at a nightclub, Kim comes crashing back into his life, pulling Will back into both covert operations and his bed. This second book benefits greatly from not having to establish the world and the antagonistic secret society Zodiac, so the plot can both start quicker and tell a smaller, tighter story. The first time around, it felt like Will and Kim were against a sprawling, mostly faceless opponent, whereas there are clear personalities for all their foes here. This time, it really is personal.
Kim and Will’s relationship crackles with chemistry and pain. Kim has lied to and manipulated Will so many times, and Will knows he is a fool to go back, but the dual attractions of the thrill of being in the trenches and the passion Kim offers are too much to pass up. (The sex scenes in this series are very graphic and very well-written.) But even beyond the central couple, the supporting characters are great. Phoebe, Kim’s easygoing fiancee, and Maisie, Will’s aspiring fashion designer friend, are both well-rounded and evocatively written, and I would be lying if I said I don’t want those two to end up together as well.
The characters have anchored both books, but the smaller plot means there are fewer opportunities for holes or contrivances, so the adventure moves even more smoothly than before. If this upward trend continues, the third book Subtle Blood will be a masterpiece. This is a pulpy, fast-moving thriller series, polished to a scene and with more than enough heart to make me care. KJ Charles has done some great work here and I am eager to dive into more.
Would I Recommend It: Absolutely.