Review: Subtle Blood by KJ Charles

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Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong. 

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.

Read my reviews of the previous novels in the series:
Slippery Creatures (#1)
The Sugared Game (#2)

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Thank you very much to KJ Charles for providing me with a review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Subtle Blood is out 23/6/21

Buy the novel:
Amazon | Apple Books

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“I don’t like it when you aren’t there. It pisses me off; I think it always will. Don’t piss me off?”

The finale to The Will Darling Adventures is a book I have waited for with bated breath, and the moment it arrived in my inbox, I could have cried. I’ve been in a reading slump for a few months because I wanted to read this book — not a book similar to Subtle Blood, like a historical, or a romance, or even a crime novel, but actually Subtle Blood. And this book delivered in ways I couldn’t have even imagined, and my months-long reading slump was finally over!

Subtle Blood follows Will and Kim months after the devastating events of The Sugared Game, as the two men’s lives have finally calmed down enough and they’re able to just be together. Will spends his days working at his bookshop, sometimes with Kim alongside him, while Kim has to learn how to live his life without his position as a former spy. They’re trying and it’s working. But then, Kim’s elder brother is accused of murder at his gentleman’s club, and Kim is whisked back into the hated world of privilege and peerage that he’s tried so hard to distance himself from. Worse, he knows that Will doesn’t belong in that type of world. Together, Will and Kim must work to solve a murder while dealing with Kim’s horrible family and trying to stop an old emery that has risen from the shadows once again.

What I love most about book series is getting to really understand a character as their development takes place over several books, to the point where you feel as though you know them as much as the author. That is definitely the feeling I have for Will Darling, the sarcastic, quick-tempered, bit of a bastard main character. I can’t get enough of his humour and dry wit; there were several moments while reading this book where I laughed out loud over his reaction to things because it was such a Will response. When a privileged twat has annoyed him, I just know his next action is to start punching, and I love that I’ve formed such a connection with his character that I can anticipate his response. KJ really is a fantastic writer that her readers are able to understand her characters so well.

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“Got to admit, it’s good watching you lie to people. When they’re not me, I mean.”

And let’s not get started on Kim and the incredible character development he has had over the course of the series. Kim is trying so hard to become a better person — for Will and for himself — and he’s doing well. He’s a bit further along on his path of healing that Will is, and he’s able to verbalise and show his love for Will in ways we haven’t seen before. Of course, as he spends time with his loathed family, Kim comes face to face again with the trauma his family put him through but with Will’s help, and Kim helping Will as well just as equally, the two men are able to navigate their trauma and begin to heal. I can’t get over Will and Kim’s romance because it’s just so wonderfully developed. They should be people who don’t get along, but against all odds their chemistry is electric and they just can’t stay away from each other — they’re both a bit damaged and hurt, but they support each other and fit well together.

The plot is typical KJ shenanigans which I can never get enough of: cunty rich people that deserve a proper smack, nefarious villains waiting for the right moment to reveal themselves, and what seems like a simple murder that gets more and more convoluted as the plot progresses. This is a long way of saying that there really is nothing like reading a new KJ Charles book, and I’ve definitely missed her work.

I can’t get enough of Subtle Blood. It really was a triumphant ending to a delightful series. When my physical copy shows up in the mail, I’m going to be rereading this series again and again and again. If you’re looking for a fun, emotional and humorous series to binge, I can’t recommend The Will Darling Adventures enough.

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