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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 i 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.


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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 i 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.

30 review for Spectred Isle

  1. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    First of my new 1920s paranormal romance series, set in England a few years after the First World War. While battle raged in Flanders, a hidden war was being fought by arcanists and occultists, and the continuing fallout of that is still causing chaos five years later. Randolph Glyde, arcanist of a great and ancient family, is trying to hold London's magical defences together almost single-handed, and it doesn't help that the same man, disgraced archaeologist Saul Lazenby, keeps inexplicably tur First of my new 1920s paranormal romance series, set in England a few years after the First World War. While battle raged in Flanders, a hidden war was being fought by arcanists and occultists, and the continuing fallout of that is still causing chaos five years later. Randolph Glyde, arcanist of a great and ancient family, is trying to hold London's magical defences together almost single-handed, and it doesn't help that the same man, disgraced archaeologist Saul Lazenby, keeps inexplicably turning up in all the wrong places... This is my first paranormal in *ages* and I had a ton of fun. It's bursting with English magic--including some real and quite extraordinary London folklore adapted to my purposes. This is Book 1 of the Green Men series, and set in the same world as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal--you don't have to have read that but there are plot links and references, as well as some younger characters from that book all grown up. (Simon Feximal: The Next Generation.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    This was quite fun, although I'm wondering if I ought have read one of those The Haunted Realm type non-fictions first. Not that it was hard to understand without, except that when they talked about Geoffrey de Mandeville I was initially (mistakenly) thinking of John de Mandeville, which indicated quite a different plot direction. Anyway. Fun! This is set in the same world as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, but after WWI, which is to say after the Feximal/Caldwell story ends. Sam, one of th This was quite fun, although I'm wondering if I ought have read one of those The Haunted Realm type non-fictions first. Not that it was hard to understand without, except that when they talked about Geoffrey de Mandeville I was initially (mistakenly) thinking of John de Mandeville, which indicated quite a different plot direction. Anyway. Fun! This is set in the same world as The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, but after WWI, which is to say after the Feximal/Caldwell story ends. Sam, one of the secondary characters, appears in both. You don't need to have read the Feximal stories first, although it added a dimension of fun (as does having read the Carnacki, the Ghost Finder stories). I liked Saul and Glyde and am pleased to see that this is a series. There isn't quite a cliff-hanger -- the immediate plot is resolved -- but there is a larger mystery to be solved.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kaje Harper

    4.5 stars - This story begins a new historical paranormal series from one of my favorite authors. It builds slowly, and took me a while to really connect with the main characters, but about a third of the way in it clicked, and the pace of both action and emotion picked up. The post WW I historical context rings true and the two men walk through it with their burdens and their hurts, their pride and fear. Archaeologist Saul Lazenby faced betrayal, and worse - the knowledge he had inadvertently b 4.5 stars - This story begins a new historical paranormal series from one of my favorite authors. It builds slowly, and took me a while to really connect with the main characters, but about a third of the way in it clicked, and the pace of both action and emotion picked up. The post WW I historical context rings true and the two men walk through it with their burdens and their hurts, their pride and fear. Archaeologist Saul Lazenby faced betrayal, and worse - the knowledge he had inadvertently betrayed those who trusted him. He took his punishment, and kept on living because he saw no choice, but he's an empty shell. He works for a man with crazy ideas, following his employer's wild enthusiasms because it's at least a respectable job where his education and skills aren't totally irrelevant. When his employer's wild ideas about magic and the unseen suddenly connect Saul with events he can't explain, his world view has to shift to survive. Randolph Glyde is the heir to magic and responsibility for the deepest mythical heart of England. His family was always more a collection of powers than a loving clan, but he lost all of them in the War, and he's struggling to cover the responsibilities that should have been spread over several people. In pursuit of his duties, trying to keep England safe from malevolent forces beginning to filter through a War-torn veil, he keeps running into one man. Saul. A man without obvious power, and yet who shows up in the wrong place, or perhaps the right place, over and over. Randolph needs to understand who Saul is, and what he is. And to make it harder, they strike sparks off each other that have nothing to do with the arcane, and everything to do with being gay in a world that punishes that in severe ways. The mystery, magic, and romance all build slowly here, and the ending is a resting place, not a completion. All the elements are more complex, and more low key, than in The Magpie Lord. There is a strong undercurrent of the forces of untrustworthy government, particularly salient right now. I look forward to reading more in this series.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lost in a Book

    Group review with Adam, Chelsea and Lorix 3.5 Stars Would it be dramatic to say that I’m super duper times a million bummed that I didn’t love this? I had heart eyes opening up this book from all of my past love affairs with KJC’s books. And man oh man did I love the first 6% and I really liked the last 30%… It was the in between that was hard to swallow. We have Saul Lazenby, an archaeologist that has been living a hard life since he was deemed a traitor during WWI and subsequently disowned b Group review with Adam, Chelsea and Lorix 3.5 Stars Would it be dramatic to say that I’m super duper times a million bummed that I didn’t love this? I had heart eyes opening up this book from all of my past love affairs with KJC’s books. And man oh man did I love the first 6% and I really liked the last 30%… It was the in between that was hard to swallow. We have Saul Lazenby, an archaeologist that has been living a hard life since he was deemed a traitor during WWI and subsequently disowned by his family, friends and employer. He is trying to atone for past “mistakes” and lives an extremely lonely existence without hope of it ever changing. Saul continues to find himself in circumstances he doesn’t understand and is quick to explain them to chance due to his scientific approach to the world. During these odd situations, he continues to run into the “unnervingly attractive,” Randolph Glyde and eventually is unable to cast the circumstances away as anything other than supernatural. Randolph Glyde is a man wearing many hats to protect London’s magical defenses. “I am an occultist. I am a protector of the realm under the King’s seal. I am the twenty-third Glyde to carry out an extremely ancient duty, and I am also, faute de mieux, carrying out someone else’s extremely ancient duty because there’s nobody else to do it. Randolph is a double talking, dictatorial, burdened and depressingly lonely man with a realm to protect. Together, Randolph and Saul work. They are polar opposites but have great chemistry. There weren’t a lot of their sexy times on page but what little we were treated to was magically delicious. There was also a quirky and dry wittiness to their dialogue that made me giggle. “Do you always speak in double talk?” “Habitually. It’s terribly vulgar to say what one means.” I loved the way they interacted. Randolph was a matter-of-fact smart ass and right up my alley. Both MCs were extremely likable and I wanted them to find their way to happiness. They had it rough and seemed to be suffocating from the shame they carried around, which made me connect with them even more. Unfortunately, their romance wasn’t a large part of the story. It wasn’t a focus until around 70%. The plot moved sooooooooo slowly. There were tons of little pieces and everything kept on building and building AND freakin’ building… The world building and plot development took center stage for the majority of the story. Don't get me wrong, I love a well built story. I also love slow burn romance. I like it slow or fast...I'm flexible like that. *eyebrows* But, I lived in a state of confusion for much of the book waiting for the pieces to make sense. The world was complex which was enjoyable once it all came together. But I wish it didn’t take so damn long for clarity. I also would have liked more of a balance between the plot and relationship development. This was a more modern setting than KJC’s previous books. It was interesting to make comparisons on how men behaved in the 1920s versus Regency England. Petroleum jelly instead of oil is a reason to celebrate. One thing is for sure; this author does her research for the time period she is setting her stories in. I love historical M/M romances. I love magic, fantasy and pnr. I love all KJC’s previous series in those genres. I liked Spectred Isle. I totally wish it was love. *sad face* I’m on the fence as to whether I would recommend this book. The next book should be much better because the stage is fully set. Although this doesn't leave off with an MC cliff hanger, London's magical defenses are still hanging in the balance. I won't be continuing on with the series because it looks like it will be a M/F book. It’s *sniff* really *cries* ok. My love for KJC’s writes still lives on… in her other books. Copy provided for honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    K.J. Charles gets her new Green Men series of paranormal historical romances off to a terrific start with Spectred Isle, an utterly captivating mix of adventure, mystery and romance all bound up in old English folklore, myth and magic. Randolph Glyde is the last member of an old English family whose lineage goes back centuries.  Throughout the ages, the Glydes have been charged by successive monarchs with the protection of England from supernatural entities. Known as the Green Men, theirs is K.J. Charles gets her new Green Men series of paranormal historical romances off to a terrific start with Spectred Isle, an utterly captivating mix of adventure, mystery and romance all bound up in old English folklore, myth and magic. Randolph Glyde is the last member of an old English family whose lineage goes back centuries.  Throughout the ages, the Glydes have been charged by successive monarchs with the protection of England from supernatural entities. Known as the Green Men, theirs is an ancient duty and an ancient magic that borrows powers from the land, but now their numbers are severely depleted and England is vulnerable to attack from mystical forces.  The First World War and the concurrent occult War Beneath devastated many families and the Glydes were no exception, as the government, not content with conventional weapons - tanks, guns and bombs -  recruited as many occultists and arcanists as they could and set them to unleashing their very specialised form of warfare on the enemy.  Of course, the other side had the same idea, and the resulting war irrevocably damaged the veil between the world of the supernatural and the human world; it now lies in shreds and Randolph – whose entire family was wiped out in one devastating engagement - is one of the few left alive who is able to track down and repel the various creatures and malignant entities that are passing through the veil with increasing frequency. Saul Lazenby is an Oxford educated archaeologist who was stationed in Mesapotamia (modern Iraq) during the war, but who was dishonourably discharged and has struggled in the years since to find employment owing to his deeply tarnished record and reputation.  He is grateful for his position as assistant to Major Peabody, an eccentric who believes London to be a hotbed of magical powers, and whom Saul privately thinks is a harmless crackpot. Still, working for him is better than starving in the streets, and Saul obediently sets out to investigate the Major’s latest theory concerning an ancient burial stone located in Oak Hill Park just north of London.  Before he can locate it, however, an old oak tree bursts into flame for no apparent reason – and Saul finds himself being abruptly interrogated by a rude, disdainful and obviously aristocratic man who – just as abruptly – disappears when a few more people arrive on the scene. This is only the first of several seemingly accidental meetings between the two men, in which they view each other with hostility and suspicion.  Saul thinks Randolph is following him; Randolph wonders if Saul’s appearances at the sites of exploding trees, ghostly manifestations and other strange happenings means he is somehow connected to or even responsible for them. But soon, Randolph has to admit that perhaps there is a method in this madness and that Saul has some, as yet unknown, part to play in England’s defence against attack from beyond the veil. Through Saul’s PoV, the reader is initiated into Randolph’s magical world as the pair are drawn into the investigation of supernatural occurrences that appear to be somehow related to the life – and death – of Geoffrey de Mandeville, a villainous, twelfth century nobleman. K.J. Charles does a wonderful job of building a sense of expectation, menace and urgency throughout the early parts of the novel and beyond, gradually broadening out her focus into an intricately plotted story that weaves a magical spell of its own on the reader.  The world-building is absolutely fantastic and the characterisation – of secondary characters as well as the two principals – is superbly rich and detailed.  The magic in this story is brilliantly conceived and it’s obvious that a considerable amount of research has gone into creating the specifics of this pagan-Earth magic. It’s not simple and it’s not at all benign; it’s dangerous and malevolent and devious, and those who fight it have to experience pain and sacrifice in order to become worthy of that task. The romance between Saul and Randolph is beautifully developed as these two men, both of them lonely and haunted, draw closer and fall in love.  Moving from suspicion and scepticism to a tentative truce, friendship and more, the relationship develops very naturally and never feels rushed or forced.  I really felt for Saul and what he’d been through; his desire for love and affection cost him very dear, but he carries doggedly on, bearing his scars quietly and refusing to let his past define him.  And while Randolph seems, at first to be an overbearing, arrogant git, it soon becomes clear he’s nothing of the sort.  Well, he’s arrogant, yes, but he’s also rather charming underneath the bluster, possessed of a very dry wit and completely dedicated to the tasks with which he’s been invested.  I loved watching them as they readjusted their opinions of each other and recognised that here, at last, was someone with whom they could let down their guards and be themselves.  The chemistry between them is scorching and the love scenes are extremely sexy, but there’s no doubt that they also possess a strong emotional connection and are deeply attached to one another. While the storyline featuring Randolph and Saul is wrapped up by the end of the book, I’m hoping we’ll see more of them as the series progresses and they continue the fight to keep England safe from whatever is trying to get through from the other side.  Sceptred Isle is funny, clever, sexy and spooky (seriously – the bit where our heroes are stuck on the road gave me the willies!) and I couldn’t put it down.  It’s an out-and-out corker of a tale and is very highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claudie ☾

    My favorite KJ Charles book so far! Sweet and scary and sexy as hell. Great plot and relationship development. Definitely deserving of a reread sometime in the future.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Hollis

    If only more of his work involved sinewy, sunburned, sensitive men, rather than people who lacked the common decency to die properly. So, I'll admit that this isn't my favourite read by Charles. Maybe I expected too much after the complete and utter delight that was THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL (which, by the way, is definitely required reading before this book). Or maybe it was the fact that I had almost no time to read this with any kind of dedication that played a part in some of my am If only more of his work involved sinewy, sunburned, sensitive men, rather than people who lacked the common decency to die properly. So, I'll admit that this isn't my favourite read by Charles. Maybe I expected too much after the complete and utter delight that was THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL (which, by the way, is definitely required reading before this book). Or maybe it was the fact that I had almost no time to read this with any kind of dedication that played a part in some of my ambivalence. Because on the whole Charles gave me everything I've come to love from her so, really, I don't know what I have to complain about. Except I was definitely left wanting in some undefinable way and some parts did allow me to be easily distracted by other things. He looked like the kind of man Saul had met a great deal in the war in the officer ranks : a thoroughbred aristocrat, effortlessly superior, endlessly disdainful. Set in the 1920s, SPECTRED ISLE is so full of history. It's chockful of presence from the devastation of the war, the change in the times for society in England and, of course, the history of this world with it's paranormal elements; there's the leftover ghost hunting legacy left by Simon and Robert, green men who try to safeguard the balance, and the damage that the supernatural war that occurred alongside the world war has wrought. The newspapers were filled with stories of the newly labouring aristocracy. The heirs to earldoms were becoming radio announcers and photographers, while the daughters of dukes took up as mannequins or wrote pieces for magazines. Charles is so detailed, so careful, to craft her setting, that sometimes you forget how much of the history is real alongside her more fantastical aspects. I love how rich this felt, how lush, an element that was definitely helped by all the green magic, though I did on occasion feel myself.. looking away. Again, I think this is more my own fault than the writing, but it did feel a little slower, almost slumberous, in a way. But I wonder if that was a deliberate choice for this world. "I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me." "I shouldn't worry, dear chap, I am notoriously unsympathetic." All that said and I haven't even started on our leads. I really did love this pairing, even if their confessions near the end felt a bit.. fast. I might have preferred to leave it grow a little more off page, but whatever. I loved how they kept stumbling across each other, no coincidence in sight, and how their suspicious suspicions transitioned into a hesitant partnership, friendship, and then more. I loved the banter. But more than that, I loved how much Randolph came off the page. He was such a presence and I couldn't help but love his shifty, never-giving-a-straight-answer, bossy ways. "Are we safe?" "No, but there's nobody around." "If you meant to raise my morale just now, it worked." "That wasn't what I intended to raise." Saul, on the other hand, the man who was green in a whole different way -- as in a novice -- was a delight in a different sense. Hurting, almost broken, shunned and disowned because of the events he was caught up in during the war, he's a more tender soul. He's forced to put a lot of faith in Randolph in multiple situations where he's completely out of his depth and he ends up constantly blowing the other man's mind with his trust and steadfast nature. Their connection felt very sweet, at times, both of them completely mesmerized by the other, and it was -- frankly -- adorable. "If your upper lip got any stiffer you wouldn't be able to speak." There's a cast of some familiar faces, too, that make their appearance, both in the events and in reference point, so I'll again stress that I highly recommend reading THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL before reading this one. Especially after seeing the premise for book two as that basically picks up after one of the short stories in the bind-up. "People create poetry, and mustard gas. We invent gods and monsters, and gods that might as well be monsters. We act with extraordinary grace and unfathomable cruelty. We're so very intelligent, and dreadfully easy to fool." SPECTRED ISLE was full of magic, marvel, mayhem, manly sexytimes (damn me, couldn't make it work all the way through) and marvelous prose. There's really only been one exception to my hands-down utter enjoyment to Charles' work and this isn't one of them. I'm maybe less effusive in my praise for this first book in the author's new series but I'm hopeful that it'll take off in future installments in the way I've come to expect and, as a result, am totally rounding this one up. 3.75 "you've devastated me in the best possible way from the moment we met" stars ** I received an ARC from the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cristina

    Another exciting and compelling historical novel by KJ Charles. Spectred Isle takes place in the same narrative universe of Charles' The Casebook of Simon Feximal and moves the action to 1923 when the after-effects of both WW1 and of the War Beneath are still acutely felt. The two main characters in the novel, disgraced archeologist Saul Lazenby and occultist Randolph Glyde meet by chance on a series of sites where supernatural events are taking place. Unbeknownst to Saul, Randolph is part of Another exciting and compelling historical novel by KJ Charles. Spectred Isle takes place in the same narrative universe of Charles' The Casebook of Simon Feximal and moves the action to 1923 when the after-effects of both WW1 and of the War Beneath are still acutely felt. The two main characters in the novel, disgraced archeologist Saul Lazenby and occultist Randolph Glyde meet by chance on a series of sites where supernatural events are taking place. Unbeknownst to Saul, Randolph is part of the society of Green Men, a group of ghost hunters and occultists in charge of controlling the thin veil existing between everyday reality and the world beyond it. Initially suspicious of each other, (view spoiler)[ then reluctant allies and finally lovers, (hide spoiler)] Saul and Randolph are both scarred by the war and its aftermath and observing their attempt to regain confidence in themselves and in their fellow human beings, adds a beautiful layer of emotional weight to their story. The supernatural plot is, as expected, fast-paced and truly gripping. The book opens on an oak tree self-combusting in a park and also features a couple of amazing chapters set in a sort of liminal world where the laws of time and nature cease to exist. KJ Charles' writing is a real delight - witty, relentless and full of depth. The homage to magazines such as the Strand and to Victorian and early 20th-century pulp fiction - in this book done through references to Robert Caldwell's accounts of Simon Feximal's adventures - adds a great meta-layer to Spectred Isle that is at the same time, its own story and part of a larger web of characters and narratives. Great fun and really recommended.

  9. 5 out of 5

    ~Volha~

    While 1920s is not my favorite historical time period, the fact that the story is happening in Simon Feximal universe and is sort of a spin off from The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal is something I didn't know or I would have read it sooner. I loved the connection through Sam Caldwell and Jo the soothsayer whom Robert Caldwell and Simon Feximal met on one of their cases. I loved the historical and arcane pieces woven into the story as well as the typical behaviors of bachelors of the day. The While 1920s is not my favorite historical time period, the fact that the story is happening in Simon Feximal universe and is sort of a spin off from The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal is something I didn't know or I would have read it sooner. I loved the connection through Sam Caldwell and Jo the soothsayer whom Robert Caldwell and Simon Feximal met on one of their cases. I loved the historical and arcane pieces woven into the story as well as the typical behaviors of bachelors of the day. The danger, the spooky factor and the love between two bitter and lonely men made this a story to enjoy and remember. I liked Saul Lazenby. He is a man of principals, strong and loyal to a fault. He is the perfect counterpart to brash, outgoing and mysterious Randolph Glyde, the last remaining member of practically royal family in Arcane world. I enjoyed their conversations so much. They were at first glib and insincere, then aggressive and demanding and finally caring and passionate. Both men had so many faucets to explore. Their separate histories of how they got to be here in the moment were fascinating. I absolutely loved the fact that this time the story was told from both Randolph and Saul's POVs. It made it so much easier to get to know them both. The magic and occult side of the story was amazingly written. It was equal parts captivating and gory. I gobbled it all up with gusto! I hope there will be more of Saul and Randolph whose journey is by no means over for it continues beyond the written pages of this book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ami

    3.75 stars rounded up Spectred Isle didn't start pack up and running for me until around 25% or so. Despite having read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, I found myself quite confused with the world-built in the beginning, it seemed like too much history has happened before the book started; too many players being dropped on me without any introduction. It is always a big issue for me when it comes to paranormal/fantasy book. I'm not really a visual and imaginative person. So I kind of need t 3.75 stars rounded up Spectred Isle didn't start pack up and running for me until around 25% or so. Despite having read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, I found myself quite confused with the world-built in the beginning, it seemed like too much history has happened before the book started; too many players being dropped on me without any introduction. It is always a big issue for me when it comes to paranormal/fantasy book. I'm not really a visual and imaginative person. So I kind of need the author to held my hand into the world they imagine in their head. But then K.J. Charles shows her capability as a story teller because once Saul and Randolph started working together, everything just clicked for me. I was pulled into this world, the sinister situation, and the war brimming against supernatural beings. I was invested with the fact that Saul was being roped into fighting alongside Randolph, and I sure thought the action to be page-turner. I ADORED Saul and Randolph together. Though he was said not really good with people, I thought Randolph really adored Saul and being pretty romantic with words when needed ^^. Based on this first book, I look forward to this series more so than Charles' previous Sins of the Cities series. The next one will be M/F romance it seems ... and I am quite excited!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    I loved every minute of this book. The atmosphere and the worldbuilding are really good. I'm looking forward to know more about those Green Men and their mission.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Very much enjoyed this short interwar romance with more than a dash of the supernatural. Will read more!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Spectred Isle might just be my new favorite book by KJ Charles. It seems that I am saying that with every new book that she is publishing, but, seriously, you all, it was incredibly good. As always, the historical setting is palpable, which is a given with the author. This book additionally shines through both the main characters and their romance as well as the paranormal aspect that was a pure delight. Regarding the protagonists Randolph and Saul, who both get point of views in alternating chapt Spectred Isle might just be my new favorite book by KJ Charles. It seems that I am saying that with every new book that she is publishing, but, seriously, you all, it was incredibly good. As always, the historical setting is palpable, which is a given with the author. This book additionally shines through both the main characters and their romance as well as the paranormal aspect that was a pure delight. Regarding the protagonists Randolph and Saul, who both get point of views in alternating chapters, I want to mention that they are distinct characters who both find themselves in the lucky, and for them surprising, situation to meet another man who complements them perfectly. Both never even dared hope for a relationship and it was very rewarding to see them happy. They are soooo lovely together. I especially like that they are so open with each other and don’t take anything for granted. I absolutely love their banter. Randolph’s sarcastic side is a joy and I respect that he is just as easily honest and serious when it matters. Their romance starts slowly and is based on many coincidences that the paranormal plot brings about. The way it is integrated into the story is smooth, though, and not implausible or ridiculous. Speaking of the plot, I think it is a good idea to read The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal before you read this book, because you will find some lovely references, but it is not at all necessary. The story offers suspense, mystery, and action, and my personal highlights are the several scary scenes that had my blood pumping and me squealing, with delight and horror. Oh gosh, I love to be scared, it seems. Those scenes are so creepy and the way you just glide into them is exciting in all the good ways. This is the first part in a new series and the main story arc is solved satisfactorily but there is many more to come. Who unleashed an ancient evil and what role does the Shadow mystery play? I cannot wait to find out more about it and I’m very much looking forward to the next book, Last Couple in Hell, that features Sam, whom we already met in Simon Feximal and this book, and Joanie, a bisexual woman – the blurb sounds amazing and I fear January 2018 is way too far away… A highly recommended book, combining romance and paranormal suspense with the very best characters. Enjoy! __________________________________ Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Historical, Horror Tags: M/M Pairing, Gay Characters Content Warnings for the stuff that comes with the genre Rating: 5 stars Blog: Review for Just Love Disclosure: ARC for Review

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This is an interesting paranormal romance set in 1920s England and dealing with the aftermath of the secret war that paralleled WW1, but using the occult rather than conventional weapons. In this environment, disgraced former soldier Saul Lazenby has taken the only job he could get, helping out the crackpot Major Peabody with his seemingly random investigations into London's occult past. After Saul comes across something genuinely unexplained, he keeps running into a mysterious stranger who intro This is an interesting paranormal romance set in 1920s England and dealing with the aftermath of the secret war that paralleled WW1, but using the occult rather than conventional weapons. In this environment, disgraced former soldier Saul Lazenby has taken the only job he could get, helping out the crackpot Major Peabody with his seemingly random investigations into London's occult past. After Saul comes across something genuinely unexplained, he keeps running into a mysterious stranger who introduces himself as Randolph Glyde. Randolph is the last of the Glyde family, essentially English occult royalty, and is trying to deal with a power-grab by a secret government department while trying to work our who this Lazenby fellow is and why he keeps showing up where he shouldn't be. And that's on top of their mutual attraction, something that contributed to Saul's disgrace and something that could be used against Randolph. The urban fantasy elements of this book are done well and very reminiscent of other novel series with secret histories of the occult. I'm reminded strongly of both Rivers of London and the Charles Stross Laundry books. I also thought the romance between Saul and Randolph was well written. There was something about the way the two major elements of this hung together that didn't quite work for me though, and I did find myself taking an inordinate amount of time to get through this rather short book. Definitely worth continuing the series though. I did get really confused early on by an anachronism where they referred to a weapon that is an iconic WW2 feature, and that did throw me out of the story a bit, but it's always difficult to get historical detail right.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    4.5 hearts Ah this book! It was fun, exciting, romantic and sexy, but above all else it made me want to frolic through the English countryside I loved this story! I was rather skeptical going into this but I found myself stuck to the pages in no time, just like every other KJ Charles book I've read. This book is set in the early 20’s, a couple years after World War One and within the same world as Simon Feximal, so we know it's supernatural. Saul is an ex soldier and archaeologist and has a shady h 4.5 hearts Ah this book! It was fun, exciting, romantic and sexy, but above all else it made me want to frolic through the English countryside I loved this story! I was rather skeptical going into this but I found myself stuck to the pages in no time, just like every other KJ Charles book I've read. This book is set in the early 20’s, a couple years after World War One and within the same world as Simon Feximal, so we know it's supernatural. Saul is an ex soldier and archaeologist and has a shady history he's trying to recover from. He's currently working for an eccentric man who essentially chases myths and magical theories around England. Saul has no reason to suspect or believe in anything of the supernatural kind, until a number of strange occurrences start to unfold. Check out the rest of my review and a few others unicorns over in the blog,

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kaa

    This was both exactly the book I needed to read this week and also a really excellent book for any time. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to read it - from the blurb, it didn't sound like quite my thing - but I was too excited by the fact that the second book in the series is going to be f/f to pass it up. And I am so glad I didn't miss out - I hadn't realized it was in the same universe as Simon Feximal, for one thing, and since that's probably my second favorite KJC book, I was thrille This was both exactly the book I needed to read this week and also a really excellent book for any time. I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to read it - from the blurb, it didn't sound like quite my thing - but I was too excited by the fact that the second book in the series is going to be f/f to pass it up. And I am so glad I didn't miss out - I hadn't realized it was in the same universe as Simon Feximal, for one thing, and since that's probably my second favorite KJC book, I was thrilled to read more about that world and some of the same characters. For anther thing, this is a well-written, intense book that turned out to be exactly my thing - e.g. full of strong but fitting ethical/moral themes about politics and power, woven in with old mythology and carried by compelling characters. I really liked both Randolph and Saul, and I'm intrigued by the supporting characters, who hopefully/presumably will be back in the next books. I also want to gush about the incredible, terrible atmosphere of the book - both the ancient paranormal creepiness and the more recent lingering shadow of a horrific war that left its mark on all of the characters and the world surrounding them. Damn.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    Thank you, Kinky Tinselicker: An Elf on Probation, for the gift!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Check out the group review over at the blog! 3.75 stars K.J. Charles delivers another entertaining MM historical paranormal! Opposites-attract and enemies-to-lovers are two of my favourite themes. When Randolph and Saul first meet, they start off on the wrong foot. And they’re definitely opposites, with Saul a poor man of science, while Randolph is a wealthy elite member of the magical world. I highly enjoyed their early bantering and squabbles. What made it even better was that neither could deny h Check out the group review over at the blog! 3.75 stars K.J. Charles delivers another entertaining MM historical paranormal! Opposites-attract and enemies-to-lovers are two of my favourite themes. When Randolph and Saul first meet, they start off on the wrong foot. And they’re definitely opposites, with Saul a poor man of science, while Randolph is a wealthy elite member of the magical world. I highly enjoyed their early bantering and squabbles. What made it even better was that neither could deny how attractive he found the other. I found it easy to connect to both main characters. Saul’s prickly at times, while Randolph hides behind sarcasm and wit. Each has his own sordid history, but neither let life defeat him. But both men have a strong sense of duty, and they develop a grudging respect for each other. The story hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. Randolph and Saul are thrown in each other’s path when a tree connected to an old prophetess spontaneously combusts. This is the first in a chain of coincidences that forces the two men together. KJ Charles is a master at crafting paranormal mysteries, and this book was no different. Borrowing from old English myths and adding her own twists, she built a gripping story that kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m not going to give anything away, but I’ll say that if you’re a fan of creepy paranormal mysteries that rely heavily on historical events, you’re in for a treat! The romance grows in tandem to the mystery. As Saul slowly enters a world of magic and monsters, Randolph becomes the one person he can rely on. Meanwhile, for Randolph, Saul represents a chance at love, something Randolph never thought he would have. The relationship between the two men is sweet and funny, with a bit of sexy. Both men had lost a lot over the course of World War I, but found happiness and home in each other. Overall, this was a very entertaining read, with well-rounded characters, a sweet romance, and an entertaining paranormal mystery. Recommended!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~

    3.5 stars I enjoyed this story, once I was able to get into it, which did take until about the 30% mark. I wasn't too sure if I liked Randolph or not but he grew on me, and Saul is an interesting character as well. The humor is very British and has just enough to break the tension when needed, and the action scenes were well done, as expected. The world building is sufficient. It kind of plops you into the middle of things, and considering this is tied into the Simon Feximal world, I was a bit co 3.5 stars I enjoyed this story, once I was able to get into it, which did take until about the 30% mark. I wasn't too sure if I liked Randolph or not but he grew on me, and Saul is an interesting character as well. The humor is very British and has just enough to break the tension when needed, and the action scenes were well done, as expected. The world building is sufficient. It kind of plops you into the middle of things, and considering this is tied into the Simon Feximal world, I was a bit concerned that I missed something or forgotten something since it's been so long since I read that one, but it does eventually gets around to explaining most things. I'd say it's safe to read without any knowledge of Feximal. It is not, however, a standalone. This is clearly the beginning of a series, and there are some significant plot threads left dangling at the end. Unfortunately, KJC has admitted to being stuck on where to go next with this series and a continuation seems less and less likely as time goes by. If you're not chomping at the bit to read this, I'd suggest giving it a pass. As for the romance, it was way too insta, especially on Randolph's part. (view spoiler)[He got to that "I love you" way too quickly to be believable, at least for me, and I really don't see that it was necessary. This is the start of a series (supposedly) - take your time. Saul at least doesn't say ILU back, so there's that. (hide spoiler)] I could certainly see why they were drawn to each other though and they suit each other well, so there's potential there if the series ever continues and if these MCs are ever the focus again of another book in it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    M'rella

    I really want to give this book 5 stars, possibly more. I don't like horror elements, but this was just perfect for me, and that alone counts for more than 5 stars. There is a sequel in the works, as far as I understand, but this is what's going to take the stars off: author cheating. I am sure that the next F/F book is going to be great, but - really - you don't start with a true historical and then switch to futuristic/sci-fi with elves in the sequel (so to speak), not unless you warn your read I really want to give this book 5 stars, possibly more. I don't like horror elements, but this was just perfect for me, and that alone counts for more than 5 stars. There is a sequel in the works, as far as I understand, but this is what's going to take the stars off: author cheating. I am sure that the next F/F book is going to be great, but - really - you don't start with a true historical and then switch to futuristic/sci-fi with elves in the sequel (so to speak), not unless you warn your readers well ahead and slap a "time-travel/fantasy" tag on it. Why couldn't this book be a stand-alone(-ish)? What about all of us who, at the moment, prefer to stick with M/M only? Disappointed :( 4 stars for the series and for the author tricking me into reading a book with a cliffhanger. I am not interested in the sequel at this point :/

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ulysses Dietz

    Spectred Isle (Green Men, book 1) KJ Charles KJC Books, 2017 Five stars “Get out of my way, bureaucrat, or I’ll burn your paper castle to the ground.” Ooh. This is good. Very good. Now, already being a fan of KJ Charles’ writing, I must have bought this last year on the strength her Magpie Lord series, or “The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal.” What Charles manages to do is to offer a wonderfully vivid world, based on post-World-War-I England, that is believable and rooted in the harsh realities of t Spectred Isle (Green Men, book 1) KJ Charles KJC Books, 2017 Five stars “Get out of my way, bureaucrat, or I’ll burn your paper castle to the ground.” Ooh. This is good. Very good. Now, already being a fan of KJ Charles’ writing, I must have bought this last year on the strength her Magpie Lord series, or “The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal.” What Charles manages to do is to offer a wonderfully vivid world, based on post-World-War-I England, that is believable and rooted in the harsh realities of the social and cultural aftermath of that “war to end all wars.” This is no mean feat, but she adds to this a sweeping paranormal subtext, suggesting a world more damaged by unseen forces unleashed during the Great War than anyone knows. It is all expertly done, with a great sensitivity to language and period. The set up for the whole series revolves around the coincidental meeting between Saul Lazenby, cashiered dishonorably out of the army after a terrible betrayal in the Middle East, and Randolph Glyde, last living member of an ancient family of aristocratic occultists bound to England’s monarchs since the dark ages. Following the quixotic demands of his amateur employer, Saul has no idea that there is another world beneath his own. Glyde, on the other hand, has no idea that Saul is anything other than an accidental interloper who keeps turning up in the wrong place at the right time. The narrative is fast-paced and gripping, while the growing connection between Saul and Randolph evolves organically out of the story, as each man becomes inexorably caught up in the fearsome truth lurking in London’s forgotten green spaces. Together, helped by Randolph’s cohort of unorthodox soldiers-turned-ghost-hunters, Saul and Randolph must face an unspeakable evil that threatens a world already battered by war. The next book in the series, “Last Couple in Hell,” seems to leave Saul and Randolph for another, male/female couple. I might have to sit that one out and see how it goes. I’ve just gotten a taste for Messrs. Lazenby and Glyde, and it’s not easy to give them up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Viz

    Loved the book! I avoid historical genre!! But KJ writes amazing historical paranormal, she is my exception. I keenly await for the next book! I love Cornel Collins narration. He did an excellent work on Magpie series (5stars). So when I started listening to this book, I realized that it has a different narrator! The narrator of this book is good but not excellent. So I would give 3.5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    Spectred Isle left me with a book hangover; it’s so good that for a while after I finished it I couldn’t contemplate reading anything else. KJC’s new story has a really well-imagined and fascinating magic system, based on some cool English mythology – wood woses and Green Men – with which I wasn’t previously familiar. Saul and Randolph, her main characters, come together in such a satisfying way. They’re both emotionally and physically scarred by Word War One in a way that feels genuine, complex Spectred Isle left me with a book hangover; it’s so good that for a while after I finished it I couldn’t contemplate reading anything else. KJC’s new story has a really well-imagined and fascinating magic system, based on some cool English mythology – wood woses and Green Men – with which I wasn’t previously familiar. Saul and Randolph, her main characters, come together in such a satisfying way. They’re both emotionally and physically scarred by Word War One in a way that feels genuine, complex and not in any way mawkish or exploitative. They complement each other wonderfully and there’s such happiness in reading about them initially colliding before eventually finding joy in each other. The dialogue is a delight, and there are a couple of secondary characters I’m desperate to know more about, so I’m very happy this is the start of a series.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kira

    This book. You won't believe how long it took me to finish it. I don't know what went wrong, but I could feel no passion between characters, and neither could I muster it for the book itself. Additionally, the romance between Saul and Randolf distracted from the rest of the plot so much that fantasy/mytsery/adventure parts of it ended up being unsatisfying too. It's well-written, it doesn't concentrate only on romance, lots of things happen in it, and still reading it was like going through the mo This book. You won't believe how long it took me to finish it. I don't know what went wrong, but I could feel no passion between characters, and neither could I muster it for the book itself. Additionally, the romance between Saul and Randolf distracted from the rest of the plot so much that fantasy/mytsery/adventure parts of it ended up being unsatisfying too. It's well-written, it doesn't concentrate only on romance, lots of things happen in it, and still reading it was like going through the motions with no feeling behind it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Liz Jacobs

    I was lucky enough to read an ARC of this book, and found it absolutely phenomenal. Rich in atmosphere, the story is fantastic (and a wonderful, incredibly worthy spin-off from Simon Feximal, the most heartbreaking of Charles's work), the chemistry between two leads is...I don't have the words. It's off the chain, basically. Everything about it is gorgeous and had me absolutely hooked. I cannot, cannot wait until this book is out in the world so I can make everybody read it. Just gorgeous.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    Another great paranormal read by K.J. Charles. If you liked the A Charm of Magpies series and especially The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (as they are set in the same universe), you'll definitely enjoy this story. Another great paranormal read by K.J. Charles. If you liked the A Charm of Magpies series and especially The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (as they are set in the same universe), you'll definitely enjoy this story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I really enjoyed this, probably the 2nd half of the book more so than the first which was a little slow going. Loved the characters, and some epic quotes. Great read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Chris, the Dalek King

    The Great War and The War Beneath may be done, but the damage still lingers on. For Saul Lazenby, betrayed and disgraced before everyone he knows, London isn’t so much a return to normal as it is the only place left that will have him. And, well, even that is stretching it a bit much. Once an archaeologist that worked with some of the best minds in the field, he is now reduced to following the crazy whims of his employer, who sees mystical and secret events in everything around him. Saul thinks h The Great War and The War Beneath may be done, but the damage still lingers on. For Saul Lazenby, betrayed and disgraced before everyone he knows, London isn’t so much a return to normal as it is the only place left that will have him. And, well, even that is stretching it a bit much. Once an archaeologist that worked with some of the best minds in the field, he is now reduced to following the crazy whims of his employer, who sees mystical and secret events in everything around him. Saul thinks him mostly harmless, though, and seeing as he is the only one willing to pay him, Saul is willing to play along. That is until the mystical and real start merging…leaving Saul unsure if he is the crazy one after all. Randolph Glyde, heir to a now denuded ancient and powerful family tree of arcanists, knows that the veil between worlds is hanging by ever-thinning threads. He knows because he, his family, his countrymen, and their opposites on the other side of the line were the ones to rip it to shreds during the war. All in the name of country, and to the detriment of all. Now spirits and monsters of deepest legend are creeping easily between the two worlds, and there are very few men and women left to fight them. Which makes the fact that someone seems to be helping things along all the more alarming. Thrown together by happenstance–and perhaps a bit of fate–Saul and Randolph must figure out what is causing the mysterious events plaguing London and the countryside. Because if they can’t, there is no one left who can. While I didn’t know it at the time I requested it, Spectred Isle is tangentially related to K.J. Charles’ The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. Which is freaking awesome because I dearly wanted a sequel to that book. And while Simon and Robert are not actually a part of this new story, it does take place in the same world, just a few years on after the end of the war. And if I am not to get an direct sequel to Secret Casebook, I am more than happy to have this in its place. A master at mixing mystery, magic, and romance, Charles is one of my go-to’s when I desperately need to fill a craving for all things historical. And this series is shaping up to be one of my favorites–though heaven knows I’ve said that about pretty much everything she has written. There is just something about the mystery here that had me on tenterhooks. I liked that it wasn’t all wrapped up in a bow by the end of the story, but also how it gave me enough to feel happy with what I got. That is a pretty fine line for me usually, and I was impressed by how it pulled it off. Usually this kind of thing annoys me more than intrigues me. While reading this story I couldn’t help but be reminded of a few of my other favorite series. If you love Jordan L. Hawk’s monsters from her Widdershins series, I think you are going to really like the creatures here. Charles does a really good job of making the creepy come to life–especially when the creepy is just a laugh dark, or a feeling of being watched and hunted. I wasn’t scared, per se, but there were definitely a few spine-tingling moments. And if I had to get up and turn the lights on because it felt like something was watching me as I read…well, I’m almost positive that it was just the cats. This story also reminded me a bit of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series–if that series had been written as a historical and not in modern times. Which, yeah, now that I think of it…that is totally something I need now. While not exactly the same, there were a few common threads that really liked. I really enjoyed learning about Randolph and his past. Even the parts that had me nope-ing right out of the room (all I’ll say is this: tree, meat hooks, nine fucking days). Luckily that part didn’t get explicit, but I shudder every time I think about it. I have, unfortunately, a very good imagination. The magical parts of this world are very well set up though, and it had me endlessly intrigued and needing to know more. I might not be able to see all the layers that have gone into creating this world, but I can easily tell they are there and just waiting to be discovered. Not everything is explained, but everything that you need to know if there for you to find. Which pretty much sums up the romance here as well. This book definitely doesn’t focus on the romance, but it doesn’t short-change it either. The mystery and the romance build off each other very well, here. The mystery feeds the romance, and the romance gives urgency to the mystery. It also makes the stakes all the more personal, since, yes, the whole of England (and most likely everywhere else) is as risk…but “the world is going to end” plots are not exactly thin on the ground. The romance gave me a reason to care what happens in this completely fictional world. And that last battle…I loved that. Just all the things that happened there with the characters and their choices just made me all kinds of happy. Spectred Isle ended up being pretty much everything I hoped it would be. The mystery is intriguing, the characters are very well written, and it left me with just enough questions to be salivating at the prospect of book two. If you love K.J. Charles’ other books, I’m pretty confident you will love this one as well. And if you have yet to dig into her back-catalog, well I would say this is a great way to start. It can easily stand alone, but it is also filled with plenty of hints to make you want to find out more later on. 4.5 stars This book was provided free in exchange for a fair and honest review for Love Bytes. Go there to check out other reviews, author interviews, and all those awesome giveaways. Click below.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Karen Wellsbury

    I read this in one sitting on what should have been a very long and slow train journey, and the time flew by ! For me this was a return to form, having read, and not really enjoyed very much, the first Sins of the Cities book. But here there is quite a complex plot, woven with legend, a romantic sub plot and characters that are diverse, but don't feel like they have been drawn from a tick box pool (a feeling that I had on a previous book) and an intriguing continuing story. Looking forward to the n I read this in one sitting on what should have been a very long and slow train journey, and the time flew by ! For me this was a return to form, having read, and not really enjoyed very much, the first Sins of the Cities book. But here there is quite a complex plot, woven with legend, a romantic sub plot and characters that are diverse, but don't feel like they have been drawn from a tick box pool (a feeling that I had on a previous book) and an intriguing continuing story. Looking forward to the next one !

  30. 5 out of 5

    W.

    Reviewed: 08-26-20 Paranormal. Mystery. Romance. Overall: 5 stars Performance : 5 stars Story: 5 stars Layered world building, based on folklore and myths, thrilling, action adventure, steamy, well developed characters is a fitting description of Spectred Isle . Ruairi Carter narration was spot on! His many voices were distinctive and fit the characters. I enjoyed listening to this audiobook immensely . Hope this is the first book of a long series.

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