I came across this series when the 3rd book of the trilogy was included on a Goodreads list for ’75 New Historical Romances’. I’ve been on a real M/M romance kick lately (thanks Schitt’s Creek!) and I figured I’d mix things up and try a historical romance. This first book in The Will Darling Adventures trilogy turned out to be such a treat! Packed with adventure, mystery, danger, sabotage, so many twists, and a budding romance – I had a hard time putting it down.
Will Darling came back from the Great War and fell on hard times, as did many of his fellow soldiers – needing work but there were no jobs to be found. In a stroke of luck he connected with an uncle he never knew he had and inherited the old man’s second-hand bookshop when he took ill and passed not long after Will’s arrival. Content with his new life, Will sets about creating some sort of order in his uncle’s chaotic shop. The more time he spends surrounded by the dusty stacks of books, the more Will thinks this bookshop owner thing isn’t half bad. That is until he starts getting strange visits from various men looking for some mysterious document. Demanding he hand it over, or else. The trouble is, Will has no idea what they’re talking about and no one to help him make sense of it all until the charming Kim Secretan shows up at his door offering his assistance. Having had no one on his side for too long, Will is instantly taken with Kim, and the two form a quick bond. But there’s more to Kim than meets the eye and Will soon discovers that Kim’s intentions may not always be what they seem. Despite mounting betrayals from Kim, both personal and professional, he may be the only one who can help Will when his enemies begin closing in.
Gosh, I loved Will so much! The poor man had been through so much with fighting in the war and then the hardships he faced when he returned. He was so grateful for the quiet life he finally found and all the man wanted to do was make a life and home for himself in the shop but instead he gets wrapped up with unknowingly harboring dangerous information that the War Office and a violent gang both want to get their hands on. His exasperation with these thugs who kept showing up at his door was so well written. I loved how he stuck with his principles and refused to be bullied into doing something that would go against his morals, regardless of the potential harm that might befall him. For all his vulnerability, he was absolutely no pushover and went toe-to-toe with everyone who came at him, pulling on his military training to help him when he got into some real pickles. He was such a well-rounded character and so perfectly written.
When Kim Secretan shows up, the chemistry was palpable between him and Will. Kim had such charm and was very likable. You could understand why Will was drawn to him, particularly given the predicament Will was in and having no one to turn to. The lure of someone as cultured and smooth as Kim was impossible to deny. But Kim was a very complicated man and as Will soon finds out, may or may not be a trustworthy companion. I won’t spoil anything but there were so many twists and turns and you’ll end up having a love-hate relationship with Kim throughout this story (and I suspect through the rest of the trilogy). He wasn’t a bad man but he often made bad choices. That said, I still totally ship him and Will and I’m very excited to dive into the next book to see what new adventures these two will get up to!