Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes, the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, holds a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.
The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman's most secret desires, and soon he's got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught.
K.J. Charles is one of my favorite authors, and I love basically every single one of her books– and this one is no exception. It’s very difficult to write a coherent review for a favorite author because all my positive feelings overwhelm my analytical thoughts until my brain is just a big ball of “yay, this book was good!”
Well, it IS good and I DID love it, and if you haven’t read K.J. Charles yet, you desperately need to.
Any Old Diamonds is about Alec, a son of a duke with a grudge against his father and step-mother. He’s desperately in need of money and revenge, and so he hires the Lily White Boys, a duo of gentleman jewel thieves, to steal his step-mother’s priceless diamond necklace. To get into the Duke’s remote castle, one of them needs to pose as Alec’s best friend. Lily White Boy Jerry Crozier slots neatly into place, and so begins the part heist/part romance plotline.
One thing I like about KJC’s books is that she layers the romance with the non-romance plot in such a way that it’s a very satisfying read. If you like romance which develops over the course of time/chapters, with kissing and (light D/s) sexytimes as a bonus, that’s definitely in here. If you like heist/thievery books, or lots of messy emotional stuff (both in the romantic relationship, and also familial), or historical fiction which doesn’t look in awe at nobles who refuse to work despite not having money, that’s all in here, too. \o/
In contrast to the majority of KJC’s other books (and the majority of modern romances in general), this one only has one POV: Alec, who find Jerry a mystery for most of the story and doesn’t have much insight on his motives until Jerry comes right out and says them. I actually found this pretty frustrating at first, maybe because I’m so used to having dual POVs of both romantic interests. Also, Jerry is a CRIMINAL who Alec thinks looks dangerous and scary for at least two chapters, and that didn’t predispose me to rooting for their relationship. A little insight into Jerry’s POV might’ve helped with that.
However, the little cracks that started showing up in Jerry’s “gentleman thief” mask once he started falling in love with Alec were HEAVENLY, and in retrospect I think it was pretty obvious what Jerry was thinking if I (and Alec) were paying better attention.
Personality-wise, Jerry’s something of a clam: intensely passionate but trying to repress it, and there are cracks which start forming as soon as the relationship deepens. I LOVE clam characters, and Alec is totally an anti-clam (emotions just hanging out in public)– and that dynamic is one of my favorites so I was very happy in the end. Still a little iffy about Jerry’s criminal history, but his interactions with Alec were never scary or overbearing or violent, which definitely helped.
And THEN there was an amazing twist to the storyline about 3/4ths into it which made the heist-plot exciting and brought a new element into the romance-plot which just made everything better.
A truly lovely book with a lot of emotional depth and exciting plotlines.
Read: May 2019
Sidenote: I feel terrible saying this, but I don’t like the cover. Full-length portraits of characters standing stiffly just don’t work for me. If you’re iffy about the cover, too, please don’t let that influence you away from reading the book.