Review: The Gilded Cage by KJ Charles



Once upon a time a boy from a noble family fell in love with a girl from the gutter. It went as badly as you’d expect.

Seventeen years later, Susan Lazarus is a renowned detective, and Templeton Lane is a jewel thief. She’s tried to arrest him, and she’s tried to shoot him. They’ve never tried to talk.

Then Templeton is accused of a vicious double murder. Now there’s a manhunt out for him, the ports are watched, and even his best friends have turned their backs. If he can’t clear his name, he’ll hang.

There’s only one person in England who might help Templeton now...assuming she doesn’t want to kill him herself.


This is a queer m/f (heroine is bisexual) historical which is still relatively rare occurrence in romance. Unlike the first book in the series which didn't quite work for me, this one hit all my sweet spots and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a second chance romance, friends-to-enemies-to-lovers (again) with a strong mystery/suspense plot.

I loved both Susan and Templeton but she is outstanding. I liked she was unremarkable in appearanc and used that to her advantage to succeed in a male-dominated field. She was OK with her looks but to him was beautiful, perfect inside and outside. I loved how much he valued her strength and determination. 

Templeton was very much the kind of romance hero I like, he was big and strong but also aware how his size could be intimidating to women. He was a true gentle giant who wanted to do everything to please Susan and make her happy.

There is a light femdom element in their relationship, the desire to make your partner feel good, to serve, to be there for them. It started with both of them discussing and overcoming the mistakes they both made with respect to each other in the past. It was not so much about forgiveness but rather about accepting the past and moving one, appreciating the present and looking forward to a future together.

The story had a strong presence of found family (and a terrible bio one) which was glorious and supportive and everything one can wish for in a family/close circle of friends. 

The road towards HEA was not without obstacles but the ending was just perfect and felt right for both Susan (who was very anti-marriage) and for Templeton (who was pro marriage but more importantly, he was pro whatever made Susan happy). I liked that the end gave them the possibility for happiness with or without official marriage.

The book works as standalone though I would recommend reading at least An Unnatural Vice (where we meet Susan for the first time). 

CW: miscarraige (in the past), violence, murder investigation

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