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Lilywhite Boys #1

Any Old Diamonds

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Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with 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.

320 pages, ebook

First published January 30, 2019

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About the author

K.J. Charles

59 books8,144 followers
KJ is a writer of romance, mostly m/m, historical or fantasy or both. She blogs about writing and editing at http://kjcharleswriter.com.

She lives in London, UK, with her husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Twitter https://twitter.com/kj_charles
Join the lively Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/13876...
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Please **do not** message me on Goodreads as I no longer check the inbox due to unwanted messages.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 744 reviews
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,144 followers
November 22, 2018
In which we stick it to a duke. Any Old Diamonds is set in the late Victorian era and inspired by a number of things: a real historical crime (not telling you which, that would be a giveaway), the popular theatre of the time (hence the music-hall title), and my urge to find out what happened to some characters in my Sins of the Cities series, set twenty years earlier. I loved writing this one; I hope you enjoy a more-sociopathic-than usual hero.

Crozier’s fingers released Alec’s chin, skimmed down his throat. “You understand that I’m not a good man, don’t you?”
“And yet you’d put yourself in my hands anyway.” It wasn’t exactly a question; it wasn’t quite a statement either.
“Yes,” Alec said anyway. It was what he wanted and Crozier had stripped it bare for them both.
“Entirely in my hands. Which is quite appropriate, since these hands steal jewels.”
Profile Image for Judith.
724 reviews2,615 followers
February 5, 2019

A bit of unbridled passion with a good plot,anyone?

Christ, Alec, I want to do the most appalling things to you. Are you sure you want to be kissed while I do them?”

So many positives here.

-set in the late 19th century in England...the Victorian era.After the Tudors this is the period in British history that completely fascinates me ( honestly ask me anything,I'm that obsessed with those two periods )

-delicious twists and turns that I didn't see coming and had to go back and read again...because,really?

-filthy sex with a bit of kink and a whole lot of dirty talk historical style...nothing better.

“If you want to be used, Lord Alexander, you have no idea how I should enjoy using you. And I don’t spoil my tools.”

He ran his fingers up Alec’s neck, stroking the skin against the grain of stubble. “Such a pretty thing. Are you hard?”

I want you aching for what will happen when I next put my hands on you. I want you so trained to my touch that your breathing hitches when I walk into the room. I want to wind up your anticipation until you’re quivering for my orders, begging for them.”“You want a plaything,” Alec whispered.

-Alec and Crozier are pretty damn perfect together.

-great supporting characters,especially Susan Lazarus the badass detective.

This ticked all the boxes for me.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,861 reviews5,638 followers
July 8, 2019
I'm going to go way, way against the grain here with my rating on Any Old Diamonds. I'm a huge K.J. Charles fan, and I've read 20 of her books and have loved nearly all of them. In fact, K.J. Charles is one of my all-time favorite authors. But I just didn't enjoy Any Old Diamonds.

I felt incredibly disconnected from this story, almost from the start. It was hard to get into it, and once I started reading, I couldn't wait for it to be over. I found the twists to be out of character and unbelievable, and even the sex (which works for me most of the time in this author's stories) felt just... devoid of emotion.

I didn't care about the HEA (and I didn't quite get how they got there, to be honest), and I didn't care what happened to the MCs. I'm not sure where my level of apathy comes from with this story, as I would have sworn up and down that any historical by this author would be a winner for me. I just found the whole thing tiresome, for some reason.

I'm sorry, friends, but though all of you loved this one, I didn't. I won't continue in this series (unless it's a Susan Lazarus book, natch), but I'd still buy a book by K.J. Charles any day of the week.

Profile Image for mwana .
371 reviews207 followers
June 23, 2021
K.J. Charles is back! And she's bringing old friends too. The namedropping in this book was phenomenal. From Nathaniel and Julius to the Cirence...Circen.... The Vanes. But as my inner Charles fan girl squeed at the familiar names, and the idea of a shared universe, I couldn't help but be pulled in by the wonder that was this story.

Alec Pyne is in desperate need of a thief. Advised by a Mr Holcombe, he goes to hire the Lilywhite Boys. (Yes, the ones in the title.) And right away, we know they're not playing.

They make it clear to Alec, "If you don't play straight with us, we'll resent it and you'll regret it. Got that, Mr. Pyne?"

And so begins one of the most suspiciously harebrained schemes I've ever read about. To exact revenge on his father and his stepmother, Alec hires the Lilywhite boys Jerry Crozier and Templeton Lane to break into Castle Speight and steal a diamond necklace worth 11 thousand sterling. If you adjust for inflation, it's enough money to make me happy. And the Lilywhite boys accept the job.

"...he deserves something terrible to happen to him."
"Well, that's us," Lane said. "We happen to people, don't we, Jerry?"

And boy are they thorough. It's a long game you see, and they spend most of the heist 'prepping'.

"Give me six hours to chop a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."

Jerry Crozier is one of my favourite thugs ever. With describable Mephistophelean features and smiles that were often described as "satanic", I virtually fell in love with him barely a chapter in.

"Don't play silly buggers with us. We play it better."

He had a lot of things to say about villains.

No decent villian dies in bed... He expires in the toils of his own plot, on the steps of his grand house or run through by the hero's blade.

Hell, Crozier makes me want to be the villain in my own story.

While Crozier was who I wanted to be if I grew up listening to my shoulder devil, Alec was my spirit animal. His pain, his anger, his losses- his creativity. I felt a kinship with him. Even the way he expressed his anguish is very similar to what I have been experiencing over the last few weeks.

He felt like overturning the table and sending his pens and pots flying to the floor. Not today. He had plenty of work to do... He fixed his eyes on it, because sometimes, if one fixed one's eyes on a thing, one didn't cry. [That last bit didn't work for me however because I still cried while staring at my cat who was looking at me like the dingus that forgot about feeding time.]

Crozier had nuggets of wisdom left, right and centre. And it looked like the kind of wisdom borne of painful experience.

People repent when they fail.

I am feeling rather repentant right now. Lmao. *sobs*.

Anyway, the journey follows the growth of Jerry and Alec as they seek out to fulfill Alec's mission. Along the way, they start to mean a lot more to each other. Unexpectedly. And this is messy because it creates room for hurt. Betrayal. As expected, Crozier had a few words to say about that too.

Betrayal does. It's one of those sins that sits in the gut.

Crozier shoulda been a philosopher.

This book is a marked improvement form the shambols that was Band Sinister. However, it is still not as amazing as Charles' best work, The Magpie Lord and its subsequent series and spinoffs. But then even the first book of A Society of Gentlemen, A Fashionable Indulgence didn't start off with a bang.

Here's hoping to more fireworks in the sequels.

Profile Image for Elise ✘ a.k.a Ryder's Pet ✘.
1,314 reviews2,818 followers
February 9, 2019
⋰⋱⋰⋱⋰⋱*Not For Me*⋰⋱⋰⋱⋰⋱

The book centers around illustrator Lord Alexander ‘Alec’ Pyne-ffoulkes (28), the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar and his hired thieve soldier-turned-criminal, Jerry Crozier () (in his 30s). This whole story was a struggle for me. The characters didn't work for me for some reason. I didn't like how weak I felt Alec was, and it's so weird that I didn't enjoy this book more than I did because it did have a commanding, cold, and demanding male in it. Jerry. Yet, he didn't do much for me. The story didn't do much for me. And to be frankly honest, I was confused for most of the time. Which I don't know why. Maybe I was in a too bad shape to read such a ... ‘heavy’ book for me at the time. Overall, I'm disappointed in myself as in the book. Ugh, damn me. It was just not for me.
“Good. My name is Templeton Lane, and my colleague is Jerry Crozier.” Beard—Crozier—lifted two fingers to his brow. “Now, why don’t you tell us what it is you have for us, and we’ll tell you if we’re interested. And if we’re not, or if our interest doesn’t suit you, we’ll all forget about this conversation and enjoy the show.”
Alec took a deep breath. He thought of George, of Cara and Annabel, of Mother, and a small near-empty church, and the smell of squashed holly berries.
He said, “I want you to rob the Duke of Ilvar.”

Other Characters:
George, Earl of Hartington and the Duke's first born son. He has two sons, one of whom will be the Duke of Ilvar eventually. Melissa, his wife who's pregnat with third child.
Annabel (24), the youngest (?) daughter of the Duke of Ilvar
Caroline ‘Cara’ (was 10 when her mother died, Alek was 7), the daughter of the Duke of Ilvar, died of a cold because of her weak chest in early December. Her Father refused to pay for the funeral. He said the expense was not convenient, even though he's one of the richest men in England.
Mrs. Clayton (was 25 when they married, George 15 at the time//now in her mid-40s), the estate manager’s wife who Alec's father married less than a year after their mothers death. She's now the Duchess. She was first his father's mistress leading to driving her then husband to suicide and they covered it up.
Frederick Merrow, The Duke's/His Grace’s confidential secretary.
Susan ‘Miss Roy’ Lazarus, the younger generation of a particularly tiresome and persistent detective agency.
Templeton Lane, part of the Lilywhite Boys.
Miss Hackett, the Duchess' sister.
Crozier and Lane exchanged glances, a flicker of a look. Crozier sat back. Lane steepled his hands, flexing them slowly. “Lord Alexander Greville de Keppel Pyne-ffoulkes, with a small f. Or even two small fs, when you think about it. Third child of the Duke by his first wife, deceased. By trade an illustrator for the picture papers as Alec Pyne. I can’t blame you for shortening that mouthful.”
“We don’t go into situations blind, Mr. Pyne, or should that be Lord Alexander. We knew who you were within twelve hours of you seeking this meeting. It is our habit to look ahead.”
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe,” Crozier said in a tone of quotation. “We keep our axes sharp, Lord Alexander.”
“Alec. Or Pyne. I don’t go by the title.”
“Why not?”
“I don’t think that’s any business of yours.”

Quick basic facts:
Genre: - (Adult) Historical Romance (M/M).
Series: - Series, Book One.
Love triangle? -
Cheating? -
HEA? -
Favorite character? - None.
Would I read more by this author/or of series? - Sure.
Would I recommend this book/series? -Not really, but other seems to like it.
Will I read this again in the future? - No.
Rating - 2 stars.
Profile Image for Teal.
597 reviews190 followers
March 26, 2020
Why ever would kind, sensitive, hardworking illustrator Alec Pyne solicit the services of infamous jewel thieves The Lilywhite Boys to steal a fortune in diamonds from the Duke of Ilvar?

Could it be as simple as mere spite? Alec -- aka Lord Alexander Greville de Keppel Pyne-ffoulkes, younger son of the Duke of Ilvar -- has, along with his siblings, been estranged from their father for a decade under circumstances most mysterious, and barely scraping by. When a sudden tragedy spurs Alec to seek some form of retribution against his wicked father and even more wicked stepmother, he finds himself in far over his head as he works with the imposing duo of criminals.

Working very closely indeed with former soldier and current conman Jerry Crozier... since the masterplan for the theft requires convincing the world that Alec and Jerry are new bosom friends.

"Lord Alexander," Crozier murmured in a confiding tone. "Apparently I need to make myself clear. The purpose of this excursion is to establish that you're charmed and delighted by your new best friend, so you will be charmed and delighted or I will fucking make you."

Watching the two circle around each other was a delight. We get only Alec's POV, alas, but Jerry's gradually growing respect and fondness for Alec is plainly visible. When Jerry says...

"I am not prone to obsession. I don't set my heart on things."

...you know he's being set up for a fall. I practically rubbed my hands together in glee. And this:

"I like to control my situation. One can't do that if one is consumed by the lust to possess a bag of emeralds, or another man's wife. If you can't walk away, you're in trouble."

"But you can't walk away from everything."

"Watch me," Jerry said.

Oh Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. 😈

It was a joy to watch the relationship unfold -- although when I realized it was going to be on the D/s spectrum, wherever you are in the world you might have heard me scream "Nooooooooooooooooo!" But I should have trusted KJ Charles to make it right -- Alec and Jerry's dynamic seemed organic, and unique to the two of them as it evolved, with a playful quality that made it easy for me to just roll with it. I ended up not minding much, though I will never understand how .

I wouldn't dream of giving anything away about the plot, because there's quite a twist, which leads not to a Big Misunderstanding but rather to a Big Understanding, and much subsequent uproar. Immediately after finishing I went back for a reread so I could savor the story in light of the new information.

Perhaps my least favorite thing was the lack of Jerry's POV. Looking back at the KJC stories I've read (and I've read all but one), my least favorites have been those with a single POV. I would have loved to spend time inside Jerry's head, and that would have helped with my other issue -- I dearly wish the book could have been at least 30% longer. I thought the story would have benefited from having more room to breathe, to flex its muscles, so to speak.

But overall it was a fun and smart and charming read, with lots of clever banter -- and with the intriguing characters I've come to expect from this author, characters who end up surprising not only the reader, but themselves.

Oh, and fans of the Sins of the City series will be pleased to see some of its secondary characters appear here, twenty years further along.

~I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.~
Profile Image for Talia Hibbert.
Author 30 books28.4k followers
March 6, 2019
I pre-ordered this book because, you know, KJ Charles, but I wasn’t able to read it for quite a while. Well, it probably wasn’t that long, but it felt like forever, because, you know, KJ Charles. Anyway, I finally got the chance, and it was definitely worth the wait because I feel like I’ve been hit by a train. You know, a train of FEELINGS and EMOTIONS and TENDERNESS and SHOCKING TWISTS. A very good train, is what I’m saying here.

My thoughts are a tangle of joy and adoration, so please bear with me. First: this book is set 20 years after Sins of the Cities, and WE GET TO SEE OLD BELOVED CHARACTERS LATER IN THEIR LIVES OH GOD KJ WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME ACK GAH AND SO ON WOW EMOTIONS. Ahem. Okay. Moving on.

I’m very nervous to really explain this book because there are layers and layers of mystery and twists that I am not clever enough to avoid spoiling. So I will keep it brief. Alec wants a gang of jewel thieves to steal his dad’s shiny necklace, because his dad is mean. For the theft to occur, Alec must feign a very public friendship with Jerry, one of the jewel thieves. ROMANCE ENSUES.

The entire book is from Alec’s point of view, which is brilliant for many reasons I can’t explain without ruining things. But one thing I can say is that the lack of Jerry’s POV made him even more mysterious and reprehensible, which was very sexy (lol ok Talia) and also made the romance even more overwhelming, somehow. I just really liked it and you will too.

Another thing you will like is how quietly wonderful and steely and gentle and loving and determined and secretly hurting and ultimately incredibly POWERFUL Alec is. What a character. Oh my goodness. He’s in my Bookish Hall of Fame. Just… what an excellent, excellent character. I would read fifty pages of Alec eating soup. I’m deeply in love with him and we should be best friends forever.

And Jerry, ah, my beloved Jerry. So dastardly. So deviant. Watching him find the strength to come out of his (violent and scary) protective shell was great. These two together were great. Their relationship was great. JUST. CONSTANT FEELINGS. And so many thoroughly good Friendship Moments? Wasn’t friends to lovers, technically, but them building a ‘fake’ friendship was key, and it was just so lovely to watch.

Basically, this book is incredibly smart, BEYONDDD sexy (their minor D/s dynamic had me sweating), and super sweet. It was also really hilarious and fabulous and thrilling and Victorian and wonderful and YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY READ IT.
Profile Image for Nemo ☠️ (pagesandprozac).
865 reviews396 followers
February 4, 2019
kj charles is BACK, motherfuckers!!!!

kj is one of my favourite authors ever, but i have been surprisingly disappointed with her past three releases: rather than being excellent, they were merely good, and one of them was - horror of horrors! - just OK. so, naturally, i was very nervous about this one.

but any old diamonds was MAGNIFICENT, and kj charles appears to have broken out of her slump!! WOOHOO!!!

i have been absolutely dying for KJ to write another dom/sub kinda relationship since the incredibleness of a seditious affair and so i was incredibly pleasantly surprised to find out that this was one. it was hot as fuck, and did one of my favourite things when it comes to erotic romance - slowly drawing out the sexual tension like a string of toffee, taut and close to snapping, instead of them sleeping together in the first 5% and having copy-and-paste sex scenes every few chapters, which is my ultimate pet peeve.

the characters were wonderful, especially crozier - i am, obviously, a GIGANTIC slut for morally-grey characters, whom kj charles writes SO WELL. the writing in general was also excellent, with some absolute whoppers of twists being thrown at me after the halfway mark.

basically, i'm just so happy that i loved this as much as i did. hallelujah!!

(also yes that gif is the Doctor and the Master. don't fucking @ me ok, their descriptions match perfectly and even their personalities are similar so i'm putting it there and nobody can stop me)
Profile Image for Moony Eliver.
305 reviews161 followers
April 1, 2020
This was a fun one. The last 20% or so felt a touch rushed, but nothing that keeps it from being a solid rec. I think I highlighted every time Jerry opened his mouth. 😂
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,514 followers
April 22, 2019
Another interesting historical tale with all the flavor of the era, and a surprising twist that caught me fully by surprise. This is a bit more of a personal story with less social commentary - about Alec, a young man whose father, the Duke of Ilvar, remarried and cast his previous children aside. That rejection impoverished them and contributed to the death of Alec's sister. Alec is bound on revenge, and hiring a thief to steal his stepmother's jewelry would both work to enrage his father, and pay for their upkeep.

Jerry, the jewel thief, knows there's something that stinks about this job, but he's fascinated both by the opportunity and by Alec. He can't resist either one, and although he tries to keep aloof and treat both man and job as temporary entertainment, there are things about Alec, in the bedroom and out of it, that appeal to him.

Both protagonists here start out harder to like than some of Charles's men, so it was a tribute to the complexity of her characters that I ended up pulling for them in both the plot and the romance. Add a strong female character, glimpses of old friends from other series, and this was an enjoyable read from a very talented author.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,894 reviews1,927 followers
March 4, 2019
Real Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: 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.


My Review
: Three instances of the vile, not-to-be-countenanced w-bomb. Two heinous, one of those so so so horrible (ON THE LAST PAGE!) it alone cost that quarter-star dock. One actually not that awful.

I can not believe I just typed that.

The cover art of this book makes me smile big'n'pretty. I'd've read it just to have that on my Kindle, had I known nothing of KJ Charles's previous ouevre. (I did...see my Flight of Magpies et seq. reviews.) But lucky me, this is vintage Charles! This is a lovely excursion into late Victorian London via a young, hard-up aristocrat who finds some jewel thieves to do his wicked stepmother dirt by relieving her of an £11,000 (about £150,000 today) diamond parure.

Hijinks ensue...as always...but let me just warn you that there are quite some several events on the way to resolution that cause the sensitive reader some serious collywobbles. I came close to invoking Cthulhu's attention to Author Charles during one or more of those moments (e.g., 63%, 86%), pulling back from the brink of madness barely in time. After all, we're taught from the cradle to praise Cthulhu...He hasn't noticed you yet. So. There's that.

But what a treat the good bits were. I am a sucker for Dominant/submissive romantic reads. This is clearly something Author Charles gets to the tips of the typing digits. These scenes are just flat wonderfully imagined, created, and inserted into the narrative. (Yes, that was me *not* making the dirty double entendre. You're welcome.) In this book, the submissive's consent and limits are so deftly woven into the narrative that I had to flip back to be sure they were there (even when they weren't one memorable time). Yeah, that's my story and you can't prove that's not why there's a finger-dent in my Kindle's screen.

Which brings me to a point I should make very clear: I am not recommending this to my heterosexual acquaintances. You will blench and clutch your pearls at least four times. Not straight safe! No! Don't!

Then there's the other great pleasure of this read. The big one, maybe, since it's something I like in series reads. We're dealing with new stories populated by characters from books past...but honest and truly, that's not a requirement to understand the motives and impulses front and center in this book. The relationships are there, but they aren't foregrounded. Whatever you need to know in order to enjoy this story is put there on the page, economically but unstintingly.

Anyone into the D/s lifestyle will find a welcome, sensitive aura of acceptance here; anyone inclined to read MM romantic fiction should already know Author Charles's work; but don't hesitate to adventure into these waters, caper-story readers. At its heart, Author Charles has given us a well-made caper with twists and turns to satisfy all but the sexually squeamish among us.
Profile Image for Eugenia.
1,615 reviews240 followers
May 15, 2023
RE-Listen AUDIOBOOK 5/2023: It was long enough from my last listen to have forgotten the wonderful twists in this book! What a treat 😍

Original ebook review 2/2019:
Sexy and Full of Twists!

This book had so many plot twists I got whiplash and loved every minute of it! Both characters changed drastically—or did they??!! I especially loved bossy and sexy Jerry! Yum!

The foundation of this story is a sexy D/s relationship. How that comes about and how it evolves and finishes is the fun of this book! So many secrets, dastardly deeds, and jewel heists!

Even more fun: we get a character, Susan Lazarus from the Sins of the City trilogy along with a few other characters twenty years later! (No need to read the series to completely enjoy this one)!

Have fun!
Profile Image for Adam.
610 reviews309 followers
February 6, 2019
Tag team review with Lost in a Book!

3.75 stars

The blurb had me practically salivating. Family drama, crime, Victorian aristocracy, contempt for said aristocracy, two very mismatched characters, and a hint of kink.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this!

The book introduces readers to someone who should be one of Victorian Britain’s most privileged individuals - Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes, i.e. Alec, the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar.

But Alec, living in a rundown apartment as a struggling illustrator, is far from a young noble living the high life. And there’s little love lost between himself and his ducal father.


I was rooting for Alec from the start. He’s shy and bookish, but had a strong sense of purpose and the grit to back it up. And his grudge against his father isn’t based on greed.

That grudge brings him to Jerry Crozier - one of the infamous Lillywhite Boys. Jerry has spent his life relieving the rich of their sparkly possessions, and the chance to get the Ilvar jewels is an opportunity he can’t pass up.

He’s also not opposed to possessing young Alec along the way.

What I liked most about Jerry is that he makes no apologies. He’s a thief and without compunction, and makes sure Alec knows what the deal is.

The two men are pulled together from the start. Alec’s attracted to the dangerous callous man, and Jerry wants to take ruin that naive innocence.

And Alec was all on board for being ruined. These two were hot. Alec submits so sweetly, and Jerry’s just the right amount of cruel yet giving. And Alec loves every second of it.


Their affair plays out against the backdrop of an elaborate crime. I really enjoyed the entire plot. I don’t want to reveal anything, but the way the crime plays out definitely threw me for a loop.

It was a fun ride, with the family drama making it more so.

My only complaint - I’d have liked Jerry and Alec to talk about what they wanted earlier on. Granted, the situation wasn’t conducive to them talking about their feelings, but the big talk didn’t happen until right at the end.

Even so, there’s no denying that these two just get each other and belong together. Jerry sees Alec’s inner strength, and Alec sees past Jerry’s rough edges.

‘Any Old Diamonds’ is a classic KJ Charles read, and hits all a lot of high notes. Recommended if you’re looking for an MM historical romance!

Profile Image for Erth.
3,511 reviews
June 6, 2020
I have read and loved all of this author's books, but this one is possibly my favourite (apart from the Magpie Trilogy, which I love beyond reason). This story was just so moving, romantic and surprising, and I had to keep stopping whilst reading so I didn't finish it too quickly. I don't want to accidentally leave spoilers, so will stop now, but just buy it and read it - you will be enraptured.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,680 reviews1,015 followers
April 5, 2019
I've given this an A- at AAR, so that's 4.5 stars rounded up.

Murder and mayhem! Betrayal and revenge! Dastardly dukes and scheming criminals! Roll up, roll up! K.J. Charles has another winner on her hands with Any Old Diamonds, a fabulously entertaining and deftly plotted tale of intrigue and suspense in which our hero – son of the aforesaid dastardly duke – sets in motion a plan of vengeance and retribution… and gets rather more than he bargained for. In the best possible way, of course.

Alec Pyne – more accurately, Lord Alexander Greville de Keppel Pyne-ffoulkes, second son of the Duke of Ilvar – has, for the past eight years, supported himself by working as an illustrator for books and newspapers.  It’s not the sort of life he could be living as the scion of one of the wealthiest men in England, it’s true, but it’s a far better option than living under his father’s roof.  A particularly complicated and ultimately heartbreaking family situation led to Alec and his siblings (two sisters and a brother, the heir to the title) being cut off completely by the duke following a huge family row which had been brewing for years.  Not wanting to be a burden on his brother’s  meagre income, Alec took lodgings and found work, mostly content to be his own man.

But the recent death of his sister Cara – which went largely unnoticed by the duke – has prompted Alec to exact some sort of retribution, which is what leads him into contact with notorious thieves, the Lilywhite Boys.  He wants them to steal the extremely valuable diamond parure the duke is going to present to his wife on the occasion of their anniversary, as payback, of sorts, for his father’s treatment of them all, but most especially Cara, for simply allowing her to die having ignored their requests for the financial assistance that would have enabled them to pay for treatment of her illness.

The Lilywhite Boys – aka Jerry Crozier and Templeton Lane – aren’t at all what Alec had expected.  Rather than a pair of grubby ruffians, he’s met by a pair of well-spoken, well-groomed men-about-town who quickly make it clear they’ve done their homework on him and that once he’s in, there’s no backing out. Alec is nervous, but determined, and by the time they part ways that evening, they’ve decided on a plan. This is no quick in-and-out job; they’re going to have to play a long game, and in order for it to work, Alec is going to have to play a part, too.  He’ll have to convincingly befriend Jerry so that when he takes him along to Castle Speight for the anniversary celebrations, it’ll seem like a perfectly natural choice, and – and here’s the really hard part – he’s going to have to keep his plans a secret from his brother George and sister Annabel, which means letting them think he’s betraying them by attempting to get back into their father’s good graces.  While Alec is fully prepared to pretend to have swallowed his own pride, he hadn’t reckoned on deceiving his siblings, which he knows is likely to tear him apart.

The way K.J. Charles juxtaposes a caper-style plot, a heartrending story of revenge AND a beautifully conceived love story is incredibly skilful and the end result is simply marvellous. She’s a master of the long game herself; the plot is brilliantly constructed with a completely unexpected twist in the second half that shows she’s also a master of misdirection. The relationship between Alec and Jerry is slowly but superbly developed, and I loved the way she gradually peels away their outer layers and brings them both to the realisation that so much of what they believe about themselves is wrong.

The two men are as different as chalk and cheese – and yet they’re a perfect match, able to see each other clearly and discern things about each other that they perhaps do not realise about themselves.  Alec views himself as weak and needy – his passivity annoys even himself! – but he’s honest, brave and possesses an inner strength he doesn’t fully appreciate, but which Jerry can see:
“You have such determination, far more than you realise, perhaps.  A remarkable quiet sort of strength.”

Jerry is confident, charming and always knows what to do and say; he says he’s not a good man… and perhaps he isn’t in many ways, but it’s easy to see that he comes to care deeply for Alec. I particularly appreciated how perceptive he is, especially that he realises just how much going through with this job is going to cost Alec.  Their  growing camaraderie and friendship is evident through their discussions, whether about art and the theatre or more intimate subjects such as sexual pleasure and desire, and their mutual attraction burns bright, which leads to a number of sizzling encounters in which Jerry is more than happy to accommodate Alec’s desire to cede control.

Fans of Ms. Charles’ will no doubt be delighted – as I was – at the nods to her  Sins of the Cities  series as we briefly reacquaint ourselves with Tim and Greta, the Earl and Countess of Moreton, and with Susan (formerly Sukey) Lazarus, lady detective with Braglewicz and Lazarus enquiry agents. Susan is clearly a force to be reckoned with – intelligent, capable and take-no-crap – and as if all that wasn’t enough, mention is made of distant connections to the Vane family (from the  Society of Gentlemen  books) – which may not be so distant after all.

My one niggle – which is so small it doesn’t really qualify as a complaint – is that I missed having Jerry’s PoV.  He’s meant to be a bit of a dark horse, so keeping him at a little distance in that way makes sense, but it also meant that it took me longer to buy into his emotional commitment to Alec than it might otherwise have done.  The story ends on a very firm HFN, no question, and Jerry’s feelings and motivations are made very clear by his actions in the last few chapters – it’s just that K.J. Charles writes these amoral, smart-mouthed, devious-bastard heroes so well, that I would have liked to have read Jerry’s take on events as well. So yeah, I’m just being greedy 😉

When I finished reading Any Old Diamonds, I posted an update on Goodreads that said “I dunno about diamonds, but this is gold” – and it really is. Witty, clever, sexy, heart-rending, and completely  unputdownable, it’s got my year of reading off to a very good start and I’m sure will do the same for you.  Do yourself a favour and nab a copy post haste.
Profile Image for Lisazj1.
2,072 reviews147 followers
February 11, 2019
Man, am I racking up the good reads!! I completely loved this, KJ Charles never disappoints and she hit it out of the park for me with this book. I couldn't put it down *except for when I was rudely interrupted by kids wanting food* and I finished it at 4:45 am in the morning.

I loved everything. The plot was amazing and the twists and surprises took me genuinely unaware. I loved the moral complexities, how emotion gets in the way when you know you're doing right but it still hurts, the cost of some decisions, how stunning it can be to suddenly see behind someone's public face and how much the man who could walk away from anything cared.

Alec and Jerry are now one of my favorite couples from KJC's universes. So many layers and facets to each, and the evolving of their relationship was absolutely delectable.

Susan Lazarus was a great supporting character and I regret I hadn't yet met her in An Unnatural Vice but I sincerely hope I see more of her in this series, which I'm quite looking forward to!
Profile Image for Sofia.
1,144 reviews194 followers
February 25, 2019
This is Charles restoring my faith. I cannot say that I am an all out fan of hers because there are some books that I couldn't bond with but this one made me glad that I still keep an eye out for her work and then give heed to my gut feelings.

A great mix of story, characters and action.

And yes Maya, I'm a Jerry fan.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,405 reviews1,853 followers
February 26, 2019
Can't quite round up on this one. I loved the romance, I loved the cameos (soooo trash for that little peekaboo update on Justin and Nathaniel), and liked a certain hook in the plot, but I wasn't really invested in the rest? Definitely keen to read on for more Susan Lazarus adventures, though!
Profile Image for Ariana  (mostly offline).
1,366 reviews39 followers
February 7, 2019
Absolutely brilliant!

I love KJ Charles, but for me 'Any Old Diamonds' is one of her best novels to date.
So what is so special about this one?

a. The plot kept me on my toes, right from the beginning to the end. I had no idea where this could possibly go and how it would all end. Needless to say that everything came to a highly satisfactory conclusion!

b. The plot twist at 62% is one of the best I've come across. Remember the one Tal Bauer threw at us in "Enemy Of My Enemy? Well, I would say it is in the same mind-blowing category. It changes everything that happened up to this point, and gave me a very good case of whiplash! It makes me want to reread this asap again, so I can look at it from a different angle!

c. I loved how the author's clever writing lets us see Alec from Jerry POV although the whole book is actually written from Alec's POV. This has closely to do with the plot twist. This might not make sense, but will once you know what the plot twist is. Damn inventive, I'd say!

d. Alec and Jerry are awesome, and the sexual chemistry between them, the dynamic they develop in the bedroom, the way they click in their desires in their very own way, are so well written! Because ...

“who better for a degenerate aristocrat than a professional criminal, when you think about it?”

I loved the smouldering, brooding atmosphere of their sexual encounters. Alec's willingness to give himself (against his better judgement) to a thoroughly 'dishonest' man, one who holds all the strings, is ultimately hot.
There is very much a 'bad boy' vibe going on with Jerry and he seems so much in control, until ... he is not. (And I loved that, too!)

e. Both characters are multi-layered and complex. Alec is not just a young aristocrat who is forced to earn his own income after terrible happenings in his family. Jerry is not just a 'dishonest' jewel thief who is out for his own gain. There is so much more!

f. I was horrified to read at the end that the characters of Alec's father and his stepmother are actually inspired by real people. They made my stomach churn and curl.

g. I adored Susan. She is quite the woman. And we have met her before as a young girl in KJ Charles's An Unnatural Vice. It was very gratifying to find Nathaniel and Justin 'still arguing' 20 years on!

I know I will reread this, not only to mull over that plot twist, but simply because it is an awesome read!

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,262 reviews276 followers
July 11, 2021
Audio Reread: 7/11/21 I'd give it 4.5 now without a doubt. I round up for Susan.
Instead of offering a coherent review of any kind, QUOTES. None should be spoilers.
Alec took a seat opposite Susan with his back to the door, and helped himself to a boiled egg, but couldn't stomach the wobbling whiteness, the too-vivid viscous yolk.
"Right." Lane was going a little red. "Right. One more question: do I look like your fucking lackey?"
Jerry looked at that picture for what seemed hours, face unreadable. He didn't speak, he didn't move, and Alec watched him, throat as constricted as though Jerry's hand was gripping it tight.
"If you could work out a way to remove half your heart and soul and lend them to me, we might both be normal people."

I'm very relieved I decided to reread this, it's been 1.5 years, and I didn't realize just how much set up there is for Susan's book here.

2019 review.
Well that was quick.

Lovely. Sorry to say my reviews are suffering a bit, but I might have to come back to fill in some here. Might not.
Profile Image for Elena.
836 reviews88 followers
March 26, 2020
One of the things I love the most about K.J. Charles’s books is that, aside from what they all have in common (all historical romances and incredibly well-written), they are all unique. I never have the feeling I’m reading the same old story slightly changed.
The time periods are different, sometimes the plot is more mystery-driven, there’s always an undercurrent of humor in the narrative, and so on. I’m sure all of that helps, but what impresses me the most is how she can create such compelling stories and so many vivid, fleshed-out characters, each one with a well-rounded personality and background, give every couple what usually feels like an original dynamic even if I’m sure I’ve read something similar dozens of times before, without ever giving me the feeling that she’s repeating herself.
She did it again with Any Old Diamonds. Actually, she did it even more. I can’t say much without spoiling the story, but this is one of her best plots, imo. As for the characters and the rest, you can see above because all of that still applies for this book.
Thank you to my buddy readers Moony, Rosa and Teal for being such good sports and jumping on this impromptu BR immediately the moment I asked. This was just the right book at the right time for me and I’m looking forward to all the discussions to follow. :)
Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
675 reviews
June 14, 2022
4.5 stars
First of all, it was difficult for me to start the series. Why??? well!! this was my last UNREAD series by KJ Charles and I have kept it safely, pretending that I am waiting for some rainy days. In fact, whenever I use to see this book in my Audible account, I use to reread/relisten something else by her, so I could keep this one till we get 1-2 new books from her.

But, a series of bad books and the fact that I have already reread almost all of her books have forced me to give in. And, no doubt this one has all the ingredients that love in her books. Again, Cornell Collins's narration was top-notch and I have realized now I don't feel embarrassed while listening to smut scenes in his voice, I feel like laughing.
Profile Image for Vanna  on semi hiatus.
597 reviews58 followers
October 2, 2019
5 stars!! 🤩😍L❤️VED IT!! 💕This surpassed all my expectations!! 👏Despite KJ Charles being one of my fav authors, her last series left me with some mixed feelings🤔. But this book brought back all the joy that I had had when I first read"Think of England" and "The Magpie Lord" series on a binge 🤩. This book reasserts Ms Charles as a gifted author who has a unique talent of weaving stories that revive and redefine the past era in the most entertaining way. 💝
The story begins when our main protagonist, Lord Alexander ("Alec" to his friends, from who's POV the story is told) reaches out to the Lily White Boys (jewel thieving gang) to rob his father, the Duke of Ilvar. Before one can feel sorry for the Duke, we find out why Alec and his siblings are estranged from said Duke and the heinous actions of the Duke that led Alec to seek such an unusual revenge scheme. But gaining access to the Duke's Castle (where the prized jewels are housed) is not easy, and there Jerry Crozier aka jewel-thief-unparalleled becomes his ally (fake best friend 😳). He not only plans and plots with him, but also mentors him step by step in rebuilding his relationship with his father and evil stepmother😬. This bond between simple, naive Alec and nefarious Jerry starts to permeate into their real life 💕and complications abound💘. (cue sizzling passion 🔥🔥with a hint of kink💓 )Jerry, self-admittedly; is a dangerous man, someone who cannot be trusted, and yet Alec needs to trust him implicitly to make sure that the plan goes through. Even a small mistake could implicate him and result in social and professional ostracism.
But can he trust Jerry and his partner-in-crime to follow through? How easy can it be to break into the aptly called "unbreakable" safe, steal the jewels and escape without getting caught when there is literally an army of servants, guards and disguised detectives roaming in the said Castle?What happens when cracks of betrayals and secrets start to appear on the fragile wall of trust? Is there any hope of Alec walking away from this path of vengeance, unscathed?😢 A Lord and a criminal; 💞 is an HEA even possible?
This story perfectly offsets the negatives with positive; evil by righteousness; criminal intent with trust; wrong-doing with retribution and hate with love❤️. The take-away from this book is that good always triumphs over evil.. but the path to this victory is complicated, fun and full of twists and turns just like the story itself 😉😍
Highly recommended to all fans of Ms. Charles and all readers of the historical M/M genre. 👍👍 😍
Profile Image for Arunimaa.
197 reviews205 followers
January 5, 2021
I loved every bit of this book. I don't think I have ever felt so satisfied with an MM historical romance before. Or any historical romance, for that matter. And the heist, murders and all that lovely drama was the cherry on the top.

P.S. I am so excited for Lane and Susan's story. That will be my first time reading a hetero romance by KJ Charles.
Profile Image for Gabi.
673 reviews115 followers
October 27, 2021
I realized I like reading chronologically backwards. lol
First the Will Darling series had some references to Think of England, so I read that one. Now this one has references to Unnatural Vice so that's on the list for me next.

The first half of the book seemed like it was going too smoothly; even Alec's reasoning was a bit odd to me. But then it all made sense after some big revelations.

I think my favorite thing in every K. J. Charles book is the moment when one or both of the MCs decide to put all their cards on the table, unleashing a torrent of romantic words. Those emotionally intense scenes are the best high for me.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,233 reviews169 followers
February 12, 2019
I couldn’t resist a new title from K.J. Charles. This LGBT historical romance is set in late Victorian times and features the younger son of a duke and a jewel thief. Heist stories are always so much fun and this one didn’t disappoint. Especially if you take into consideration that there is more at stake than diamonds.

As always, the author excels at creating complex and interesting characters, while playing with our expectations. Lots of banter, romance, and thrilling moments. In all, highly entertaining.
Profile Image for annob.
512 reviews60 followers
July 17, 2020
4.5 stars!

For some reason I forgot how much I enjoy KJ Charles writing; I should have picked up 'Any Old Diamonds' sooner. The story was superb! I loved the pairing, and the attraction that came with an unexpected serving of submissivness. Mysteries aren't really my thing, and perhaps there was a tad too much explaining the jewel heist towards the ending for me, but I found the HEA satisfactory. The historical world building with the setting in 1895, the ambience, the attention to details and cast of characters were top notch, as always with this author.
Profile Image for Freya Marske.
Author 13 books1,680 followers
February 1, 2019
A DELIGHT. Such a fun patchwork of things I love: terrible house parties full of terrible people, family secrets, heists, obedience kink, and Charles's impeccable ability to attach your affections to her protagonists with the strength of industrial magnets within the space a single chapter.
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