Lightning Review

A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles


A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel

by KJ Charles

Let’s start with the fact that I adore KJ Charles’ books. All of them. So I was well-positioned to love this one, especially as I had adored the first book in this series, which Carrie reviewed. Book two didn’t quite have the complexity of that first book, but I still loved this story and devoured it quickly.

Rufus, a major in the army, has found out that he is in fact an earl, specifically the Earl of Oxney on the edges of Romney Marsh where this series is set. Once the news is out, Rufus gets it from all sides. The man who expected to be named earl has challenged his legitimacy in court and does not accept its findings that Rufus is the earl. Another complication enters the chat when Luke Doomsday appears at the manor. Luke has a story about how he might be the legitimate earl. But how true is that story?

Rufus is a straightforward man who is honest to his very core. Luke is open to a scheme and a plot and a manipulation, but is he manipulating Rufus? What does he actually want? There’s an ulterior motive there. Rufus also has a temper on him; he’s protective and loyal and utterly caught up in Luke Doomsday. Luke very much feels the same. But he’s got himself in a nasty tangle with his lies. The relationship between Rufus and Luke before the lies are exposed is vigorous, sexy and a bit thrilling. They’re deeply enamoured of each other. But can those feelings persist through Luke’s revelations?

For me, the best part of this book was the conversations between Luke and Rufus, both in the bedroom and outside of it. There was such a profound connection between the two, that it was easy for me to be swept away by it. Rufus is exactly who he appears to be. He’s open and vulnerable with Luke despite himself and his ideas of right and wrong. The man is just so good.

Put that up against Luke’s apparent scheming ways which are underpinned by something a lot more real. In terms of plot, this felt more of an extension of book one’s rather complicated plot than a plot of its own. The mystery element of the plot is drawn entirely from book one and the emotional growth required by Luke is also drawn directly from book one. Despite this reliance on the prior novel, the connection between Luke and Rufus was so full and rich that I didn’t really miss a more complex plot. If you haven’t read book one, then read book one and two close together. I think you’ll find it a rewarding project.

I don’t know if there’s a book three coming, but I desperately hope there is because this series with its setting of a marsh run by smugglers turned legitimate business people and their grey morals is just fantastic!


Major Rufus d’Aumesty has unexpectedly become the Earl of Oxney, master of a remote Norman manor on the edge of the infamous Romney Marsh. There he’s beset on all sides, his position contested both by his greedy uncle and by Luke Doomsday, son of a notorious smuggling clan.

The earl and the smuggler should be natural enemies, but cocksure, enragingly competent Luke is a trained secretary and expert schemer—exactly the sort of man Rufus needs by his side. Before long, Luke becomes an unexpected ally…and the lover Rufus had never hoped to find.

But Luke came to Stone Manor with an ulterior motive, one he’s desperate to keep hidden even from the lord he can’t resist. As the lies accumulate and family secrets threaten to destroy everything they hold dear, master and man find themselves forced to decide whose side they’re really on…and what they’re willing to do for love.

Historical: European, LGBTQIA, Romance
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  1. LisaM says:

    I have been waiting for Luke’s story ever since I finished the first book. Due to the early closing hours of my local indie, it may be Saturday before I can get my hands on my pre-ordered paper copy. They are hosting a zoom conversation with KJC that is free and open to the public (Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston), and I am so excited to attend.

  2. Lisa F says:

    It’s a release of a Charles, that means celebration time! Looking forward to reading it.

  3. chacha1 says:

    Have preordered and can’t wait to devour it.

  4. Maureen says:

    Great review, and I’m so excited for this one!

  5. JenM says:

    I don’t read that much m/m romance, but I picked this up on a whim and loved it (mainly Rufus, who was just a joy to read). I ended up going back and reading the first book and loved that even more, plus it gave me a lot more insight into the plot and into Luke. I felt like this could easily be read as a stand-alone, but the experience would definitely be richer if you read the first book, The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen, first.

  6. kkw says:

    I tried to pace myself. I failed. So good. So so good.
    It’s definitely a richer experience if you’ve read the first book, and also The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer. Also there are delightful little shout outs to Band Sinister and Wanted, A Gentleman, and doubtless it’s more fun also since I’ve read the same gothic novels that Luke has. I don’t think any of that is necessary, mind you, the book is almost certainly perfect even in a vacuum.
    I just can’t judge, since her books couldn’t be more perfectly aligned with my interests if she tried – it would be creepy if it weren’t so intensely satisfying.

  7. Mspym says:

    I feel like @kkw – this book was so aligned with my interests and my book reading history that it was just a delight. Going to reread some of the Theo Swann books now

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