September 18, 2023

A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel

By KJ Charles
Review by
KJ Charles concludes her Doomsday Books duology with the masterfully crafted, deliciously adventurous and so, so horny Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel.
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How does any good romance protagonist woo their intended? Do they leave secret gifts for their love to find? Do they mend a tear in their shirt as an act of service? Whatever it is, it usually isn’t to compare their future lover’s brown eyes to beef stew. And yet, the gruff but kindly Rufus d’Aumesty does exactly that to Luke Doomsday as they begin to circle each other in KJ Charles’ gorgeous and delightful A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel.

It’s been 13 years since the events of The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, the first book in Charles’ Doomsday Books duology. Rufus d’Aumesty has found himself unexpectedly named the Earl of Oxney, and has since been saddled with belligerent relatives who refuse to leave his home and are intent on proving his illegitimacy. One such attempt brings Luke, who played a key supporting role in the first novel, to the earl’s door with stories of a secret marriage and his own claim to the title. Luke is a frighteningly competent smuggler-turned-secretary, and Rufus, a career military man, desperately needs help sorting out the affairs of his newfound earldom. Before they know it, their tentative alliance against Rufus’ grasping family blossoms into the tenderest of love affairs. But each man has his secrets, and those secrets threaten to eat away at the very foundation of their relationship. Rufus and Luke must soon ask themselves what exactly they are willing to sacrifice for love.

There is a moment in this book, not quite midway through, when Luke is caught sneaking around the manor by Rufus. Emboldened from weeks of building tension, Luke glares at Rufus and charges him to either “sack me, fuck me, or leave me be.” Phew. Let me tell you, I mopped my brow and then hollered with glee. Charles’ ability to steam up the pages while also producing pure, fangirl-esque joy is a defining trait of her work. There isn’t a ton of waiting to get to the juicy bits in a Charles book, but somehow, she still makes you feel like you’ve spent hours begging for her characters to just kiss already. At times, it can feel like romance readers must choose between spice and plot, but we don’t have to make that choice here: It’s all there, perfectly laid out by an expert writer who unerringly produces novels that are masterfully crafted, deliciously adventurous and so, so horny. A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel is a nonstop, swoony adventure from start to finish.

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