Review: Spectred Isle by KJ Charles


Title: Spectred Isle (Green Men #1)
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical PNR, MM romance
Release Date: 3 Aug 2017

Author's links: Website / Twitter / FB Group / Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense...except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.

Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there's something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.

Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.


I have unwittingly established a tradition to start the new year with a book by KJ Charles (I've done it in 2016 and 2017) and decided to continue it in 2018 with Spectred Isle. It was the best decision since I really enjoyed this book and found myself so engrossed in it that I ended with the worst book hangover. This story is set in the same world of supernatural as my most favourite book by KJ Charles, The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, a few years after the War. (And we see more of Sam, and hear some of Jo, just so you know if you are curious about them).

It's such a brilliant story, captivating and I loved everything about it - the characters, the mystery aspect which was hugely entertaining and just a tiny bit scary and the romance which was unexpectedly gentle and very emotional. 

Both Saul and randolphare very interesting characters. I loved how they kept bumping into each other  as if by accident, and how their relationship developed amid all the chaos and confusion (especially true for Saul). He seemed more mysterious, keeping a secret from the readers though the people he met all knew about it. His despair and loneliness were palpable, he was just going through the motions of everyday life with no sense of purpose or direction and worst of all, no hope for anything better. 

I loved their romance. It was so deeply human, this burning desire (which both of them had buried deep for various reasons) for real contact, for connection, friendship and companionship which turned into love. Randolph found it harder to admit his feelings though he very much shared the same longing as Saul. In a way both have given up on that possibility and had resign themselves to a life of loneliness focused on getting by, just doing what was right and expected of them.

The sexual attraction between them is there from the start and it's strong but the intimacy which happened gradually, that absolutely slayed me. It was all tinged with the belief they both had that things between them could never last, it's just not something that seemed possible, especially for Saul and that bit about Simon and Robert being together for decades was such a high point in the story for me. Every time Sam's uncles were mentioned I got this bittersweet feeling in my heart that brought tears to my eyes. 

Their romance started with the human longing for connection,went through the impossibility of two queer men sharing more than the occasional night of passion and then came the opening up and intimacy and the sheer joying of finding a kindred spirit, a trusted friend, a lover.

Unlike the Simon Feximal's book and didn't find the mystery as scary, but still very intriguing. What was scarier than the supernatural forces Saul and Randolph had to battle with, was the devastation the war had brought about on the human soul, the sense of guilt and hopelessness, the confusion and the loss of so many young people, forcing the rest the completely change their lives. Nothing was the same as before the war, for neither of the characters. Yet it was that deep intimate human connection that formed between Saul and Randolph that made life more bearable, brought light and hope.

The book ends with a HFN and the mystery being solved only partially. All of which makes me very excite and quite impatient to read the next one in the series.

Purchase links: Amazon / Kobo / B&N

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