Title: Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1)
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: KJC Books
Release Date: January 30, 2019
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Page Count: 229
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes, the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, holds a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.
The Duke’s remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he’ll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec’s new best friend.
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what’s between them…all without getting caught.
As with other works by this author the core elements of any novel are present in high quality, namely: plot, character development and contextualisation. The story is relatively simple and there are no secondary plotlines. Much of the novel is predictable and this has the effect of lulling the reader into a false sense of security because there are a few twists in the latter part of the book, which enliven a relatively staid plot. The writing style is easy and the reader is drawn into the story without difficulty. The characters are richly developed. Given that the heart of the plot is quite nefarious it perhaps would have been better if more were made of the distinctions between light and dark in the characters. As the annexe makes clear, a number of the characters are drawn from historical figures and this helps in the contextualisation of the scenes drawn. Although this is a period piece, the language is quite modern with the exception of sexual terms, which is quite interesting.
The two lead characters are very dissimilar and their relationship is driven by dominance/submission. This is quite different from many of the other lead characters drawn by this author. This characteristic works well as a sexual driver, but there is not a good fit between this and point to which the author wants the relationship to grow, which is quite ‘normalised’. It is difficult to envisage a power role effectively working where outside of sex there is a sense of equality. Nevertheless, the sex is well described, although it is not as edgy as it might be in its description.
As noted, this is an easy read with a steady pace. Even where the twists to the story are introduced, there is no real tension and so this is more a stimulus to the story than it is to the pace.
Once the twists are revealed then the ending to the story is quite predictable. This is disappointing as there is so much potential around this unlikely relationship and where it will go from this point. It would have been better had this been hinted at in the conclusion and more of an opening left from subsequent books in the series. It is a satisfying conclusion with all of the threads neatly resolved. As the first in the series about this villainous team perhaps it could have been a little edgier, the reader comes away from the book without any real questions in their mind about the characters and the world in which they work.