Book Review: The Sugared Game by K.J. Charles

Goodreads: The Sugared Game (The Will Darling Adventures #2)
Publisher: KJC Books
Published: 26 August 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

It’s been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn’t expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway?

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he’s been dragged back into Kim’s shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings.

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can’t find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything.

A 1920s m/m romance trilogy in the spirit of Golden Age pulp fiction.

TL;DR: With the basics set in book one, the pace of The Sugared Game was much faster! K.J. Charles gives us more of the roaring 20s and I felt fully immersed in the story. Will and Kim become even more embroiled in the Zodiac’s games and the stakes get even higher when they find out that the leader is closer than they realised. The romance and mystery is well-balanced but we do get more romance here, which I wasn’t mad at. I love Will Darling even more but we also get to see a more vulnerable side to Kim that had my heart breaking! This sequel was fast-paced and action-packed and had a deliciously steamy romance, and I can’t wait to see where the author takes them next.

I’m so glad that I decided to continue on with book two immediately after finishing Slippery Creatures because I loved this book! With our main characters and setting already laid out in the previous book, the pace of this book moved much faster and I was hooked!

In The Sugared Game, we’re even more deeply embroiled in Zodiac scheming and the mystery gets much thicker. We encounter many unscrupulous deviants and maddening characters that made me want to reach through the pages and knock flat out (excuse the violence, pls)! If you thought the stakes were high in book one, they’re even higher now as Will and Kim discover that the Zodiac’s network stems from much closer to home than they first realise, placing their loved ones in even more immediate danger than before. It was action-packed and full of disturbingly delightful twists that I did not see coming and it was just so good!

We also get to see more of the iconic elements that made up the 1920s, from the fashion to the changes in the upper crust way of life, and to the Bright Young Things. There was an air of wildness and like anything can happen, and the rich and vivid setting made me feel even more immersed in the story. I also have to note how much I loved the writing! K.J. Charles is an absolute master with words, not only with capturing the vernacular of the time but by including so many marvellously clever references that make this such a trip and a treat to read 😍

The story continues to maintain a nice balance of mystery and romance but I feel that there was a bit more focus on the romance here, which I didn’t mind at all. Will and Kim are as night and day as they come and yet, although they differ in so many respects, they work so well together—and not just as a team solving a mystery and dodging death, but as lovers.

I adored Will Darling from the first moment we meet him and I’m quite sure I love him even more now! He is such a wonderfully steady presence and I just think he deserves the world after all he’s been through. There were some frustrating moments as he continued to let Kim back in after all the hurtful things he’d done but Will clearly sees through Kim’s veneer of cold uncaring nonchalance, and he doesn’t let him get away with it. I loved seeing Will tell it straight and simultaneously shocking Kim for caring so much in spite of the bullshittery. He is a proponent for open and healthy communication and I was HERE. FOR. IT!

Surprisingly, the character we get the most depth from was the infuriatingly secretive and infinitely unreliable Kim Secretan (it really is fitting that he has ‘secret’ in his name)! Kim is a tightly strung ball of nerves and emotions that he has kept to himself for so long that he doesn’t know how else to be. Then Will comes around and demands he tries and you have to give the man a lot of credit because he really does try, albeit in fits and starts. He carries around so much guilt for his past and because society only sees him as a villain, he continues to punish himself by pushing people away and taking on all the hurts alone. There is so much pain, sadness and loneliness beneath his surface but throughout the read, he allows himself to be more vulnerable by not lying and by letting Will in, and oh my heart, how I really felt for him! Even though I was frustrated with him at the start I really do not envy him in his position and even though he made mistakes in dealing with things, I do believe he did the best he could in the way he knew how.

They’re both imperfect characters with flaws aplenty but it’s hard not to root for them to find their happiness despite it. I loved watching them talk through their issues and fight for what they want and for each other. Bring on the next book because I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Have you read The Sugared Game or is it on your TBR?

7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Sugared Game by K.J. Charles

    1. It’s so good! Immediately moved on to book three after book two and quickly sped through that one as well. This series is definitely topping my favourite historical (queer) romances list 🙂 I hope you enjoy it if you give it a go!

      Liked by 1 person

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