A review by wardenred
Any Old Diamonds, by KJ Charles

challenging emotional tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


You understand that I’m not a good man, don’t you?

Wow. This was quite an emotional rollercoaster!

To tell the truth, up until almost two thirds into the story, I was certain I would give it far fewer stars than I'm now enthusiastically handing out. There were points even before the midpoint when I thought my review might lean a bit into "angry rant" territory. See, when it comes to romance with D/s elements, I have some pretty strong opinions (although I'm fully aware that some of them are purely personal preferences). There are things in such stories that I absolutely love and can't get enough of, and then there are things that steer way too close to triggers, and there's preciously little middle ground.

This book, for a big part of the story, kind of zigzagged between my "ooh, give me more" territory and my "get away from me" territory. So I was feeling pretty conflicted. I was also low-key frustrated that there was only one POV throughout. I kept wanting a chance to get in Jerry's head, too. 

But I really like K.J. Charles's writing style, and I loved how this book was written, with all the theater and literature references and small Shakespeare quotes injected here and there. Besides, I was getting invested in the whole heist part of the plot—I happen to love heists. So I kept reading despite my reservations, and my, I'm so glad I did!

As the book got closer to the finish line, plot twists began to pile up. There was that one twist—you must know which one if you've read it—that literally made me gasp out loud. Those reveals in the late part of the story completely recontextualized so many details from the earlier parts and made me completely fall in love with this complicated romance. I'm also now convinced that keeping solely to Alec's POV is the best decision the author could have made for this story. I didn't need, after all, to get a glimpse into Jerry's mind to see his arc play out and to be half-a-step ahead of Alec when it came to the changes Jerry was facing—and I loved that arc, and those challenges. I loved so many characters here, really, and there are so many scenes that are stuck vividly in my mind, like the one where Alec draws the duchess's portrait and gets her, and the two big honest conversations Alec and Jerry have.

Also, big extra points for the crossover with Sins of the Cities. I now want to reread those books! 

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