KJ Charles: The Sugared Game

Author: KJ Charles
Title: The Sugared Game
Series: Will Darling #2

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.

Sometimes you read a book that you just love. And occasionally these books have sequels which you love even more. The Sugared Game is one of those sequels.

I admit I was a bit annoyed about the relationship at the beginning. While Slippery Creatures left off with Will and Kim in a happy-for-now situation, at the beginning of book two we learn that Kim has ghosted Will for a while now. In turn, Will has given up on Kim – or that what he’s trying to tell himself. Usually, I’m not overly fond of this trope but then it’s not exactly an out-of-character move for Kim. In fact, if we’ve learned anything about him in book one it’s that this is exactly what he would do. And when they eventually pick up their relationship again they neither just ignore the break and continue where they left off, nor start from the beginning again (both things I came across in romances that stretch over multiple books). Instead, they discuss it and have a (somewhat) healthier relationship afterwards.

The mystery itself meanwhile was just brilliant. I already enjoyed the one from Slippery Creatures but had also managed to guess quite a few twists in advance (mostly because I have consumed far more pulp/mystery fiction than is probably healthy and know the tropes and set-pieces very well). I found that much harder this time. The storyline is still very pulpy and full of fiendish villains and betrayals but all is combined in a way that I went “Wow. I did not see that coming” a few times.

And finally, I have to mention the side characters and especially Phoebe. If you’re like me and love pulp mysteries but are also eternally frustrated that in most of them all the women ever do is scream and make the hero’s life harder by getting abducted at inopportune moments you will love her. She’s still feminine (and into feminine pursuits) and she’s not physically strong enough to fight the bad guys but that doesn’t mean she won’t make their lives as hard as possible. She’s everything I ever dreamed of while watching far too many Edgar Wallace movies while growing up.

black and white gif of a woman on the phone. A man's hand touches her from behind and she looks scared