25. A book released in 2021: Subtle Blood (The Will Darling Adventures #3) by KJ Charles
List Progress: 20/30
Man, was this fun. I have read some good books this year, and some important ones, but none have been quite as fun as The Will Darling Adventures, which just concluded its trilogy with Subtle Blood. This is the final period-drama-meets-spy-thriller-meets-gay-erotica starring WWI veteran Will Darling and disgraced aristocrat Kim Secretan, and I am very sad to see the characters go, even as it was a very enjoyable way to send them out.
Subtle Blood picks up months after the previous installment, The Sugared Game, and Will and Kim have been living in precarious domestic bliss, working at Will’s book shop. Their peace and happiness is put at risk when Kim’s bullheaded older brother Lord Chingford appears to have murdered another high society gentleman at a private club. Kim has no love or loyalty to his abusive family, but knows that if Chingford is executed, he will become his father’s heir and be dragged back into the world of his toxic upbringing and away from Will. Neither Kim nor the narrative pretend to care about Chingford’s fate: the precious thing at stake is Will and Kim’s life together. The passion and suspicion of the first two books has grown into a deep and strong love, and both men are willing to fight to protect it. It absolutely set my heart aflutter to read.
I have a few structural quibbles about the book; I think the penultimate major scene was more powerful than the climax, leading to a bit of a letdown at the end. I also have spoilery opinions about the characters’ ultimate fates. And KJ Charles is so good at writing sex scenes that I would have preferred a couple more (The Sugared Game held my ideal balance of smut to plot). But nitpicks aside, I devoured this book and am sad to be done with Will and Kim. KJ Charles is a very prolific romance author and I will have to pick up another one of her series, and hopefully I will love it as much as I have loved the adventures of Will Darling.
Would I Recommend It: Absolutely, a great end to the series.