• Spectred Isle

  • Green Men Series, Book 1
  • By: KJ Charles
  • Narrated by: Ruairi Carter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: LGBTQ+, Romance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (222 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

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 fulfill 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.

Contains mature themes.

©2017 KJ Charles (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Spectred Isle

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Well that’s interesting

Hadn’t realised I was listening to homosexual literature and pleasantly surprised as a ‘straight’ older woman to find it beautifully portrayed in the sex scenes, slightly blush making but convincingly written and the reader was a pleasure to listen to as there was no innuendo in the way he approached it, just gentle honesty.
The story line was interesting although I couldn’t make up my mind as to whether I was listening to a supernatural fantasy with shades of steam punk or a mills and boon boy meets boy. A real crossover story

7 people found this helpful

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  • BR
  • 09-17-18

A new KJ Charles audiobook to savor

I adore KJ Charles and have read all of her works. Favorites include The Charm of Magpies series, Think of England and now this, Spectred Isle. Even though I have read them as ebooks, it is always amazing to me how much is enhanced with the audio version. The narration took a good story and detailed characters to the next level. I don't like recapping the plot, but the highlights include MCs that have strengths, flaws and tragic pasts. The setting in post WW I England has the upheaval of the Great War as part of a very well done bit of world building that includes magic and mysteries. The m/m romance is strong, but not the insipid instant love that plagues so many m/m stories. The narrator does a good job with the main characters, particularly Randolph as the snarky aristocrat. One negative is that his women voices weren't great. But that is a minor quibble as there are very few women in the book. He does pull of the sex scenes well, which is where most narrators fail so that is a big plus. I did not know they were making this as an audiobook so was absolutely delighted to find it. It lived up to my expectations and then some. Definitely recommended.

5 people found this helpful

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  • t
  • 04-19-19

Another intriguing tale

I will admit, it took two listens before I enjoyed this audiobook. I had previously read the book and enjoyed it, but the narrator's voice was so... childish? that the first time I listened, I hated the audio. However, the second time it was much better.

While not my favorite of Charles's books, I did enjoy Spectred Isle. I do wish we'd get more tales from the other men who band together.

2 people found this helpful

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KJ Charles never fails!

I was a little distracted when I started listening to this book so it took me a few chapters to get caught up and figure out what was going on, but once I did, like with all KJ Charles's books, I found myself quite invested. I liked how this story connected back to The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, but if you didn't read that you weren't lost.
KJ Charles is a wonderful storyteller and Spectred Isle is no different. The world building is wonderful and makes me feel like I am a part of what's happening on page.
Saul and Randolph are so good together. I love when characters are such opposites that they just work as a couple. KJC is one author who really does a great job of writing the opposites attract trope.
I hope there will be more books in this series- I see there was supposed to be another one coming, but it's been a few years since an update on it.

Ruairi Carter is a terrific narrator. This was the first book I've listened to that's he's performed and I was quite impressed. I'll definitely be looking at more of his work to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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Magnificent

I loved the blend of magicalness and myth with an AU historical romance. Saul and Randolf were perfectly flawed and worked so well together.

1 person found this helpful

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Good Story

I love KJ Charles so I was very much inclined to enjoy the story. I didn’t realize it was set in a future with previously beloved characters in the past/background so that was a nice surprise.

I was less impressed with the narration-Saul’s voice sounded rather plaintive, young, innocent, fearful...it was a good job making the MCs sound distinctive, but not in a way that made Saul feel like an equal partner.

1 person found this helpful

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As usual KJ Charles doesn't fail to entertain

I don't think there is anything wrong with the narrator doing women's voices as some complained about, the story is good and I was thoroughly entertained although disappointed it is only 7+ hours long so it ends much faster than expected as most of her novels are longer. I definitely look forward to more green men novels, granted audible sends us more, as I quite enjoy the scary parts of this paranormal world, which seems darker than the Magpie world. It reminds me vaguely of the Jonathan and Mr. Strange series, which is also quite strange and dark.

1 person found this helpful

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fantastical story, great book one

I enjoyed the way the story tied faxamal in with this tale of comarady and supernatural.

1 person found this helpful

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Interesting MCs and events, unclear world

Smart and engaging like all KJ Charles books. I love how our MCs, Saul and Randolph, keep meeting in strange ways. It's incredibly charming. Randolph is mysterious and sexy, harnessing unknowable magic and burdened with too much. Saul is curious but wary, just trying to do his simple job to make ends meet after a very, very bad war. Suspicious of each other, they share some great banter and sexual tension. When they finally come together, it feels right. Both are desperately lonely and alone, and Charles does a phenomenal job of underpinning their romantic/intimate scenes with the feeling of abject aloneness--or rather, the soothing of it as Saul and Randolph find hope and comfort in each other. The whole thing feels so right and good and warm.


When they're together, there's a feeling that it's special. Not just for them, but for the world. I want to see what that becomes. Although small in comparison, I adore that they go on actual dates. This is rare for historical MM, so I treasure it. One date goes so spectacularly awry that it changes the course of everything. One minute, we're in a tender moment, the next we're spiraling into the unknown as mysteries, magic, and mayhem snowball. Another shockingly impactful scene is the resolution to this book. It gut-punched me, in a good way. More so than any scene in any other KJ Charles book I can remember, and I'm a loyal fan. The story has a relaxed pace, so the meaningful scenes are all jarring--again, in a good way. These powerful scenes are what made me glad I listened when, truthfully, most of the book left me wanting.

Too much of the magic and world is left unaddressed. I don't mind soft magic systems, but this doesn't feel soft so much as negligent. It's so hard to care about any of the drama and stakes when none of words make sense. Even having already read the Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (precursor to this series), I feel like I have no frame of reference for understanding what's happening or why it matters. The story has me clinging on to it with a shoe string and scotch tape.

The relaxed pace of the story works OK for me mostly, but there are a few long, slow stretches that seem pointless. Those pages are precious real estate in such a good writer's book, so I wish they were used better. By the time I was at the end, I was surprised by how little had happened and how much of the world I still had absolutely no answers about. Most surprisingly, our glimpse into who the MCs are is still pretty shallow by the end. Don't get me wrong, we learn their backstories and fears, and they share a lot of meaningful conversations. We just don't go as deep into it as we could've/should've (particularly for Randolph, AKA a Green Man, whatever that means). Perhaps certain depths are being saved for future books in the series. In this one, their surface level quirks/behaviors, like Randolph's tendency to avoid answering questions, occur so frequently (and are remarked upon so often) that Saul and Randolph may as well be string-pull dolls with prerecorded messages or video game characters with a limited number of gestures preloaded. I got so tired of Randolph calling Saul brave. Maybe it's true (I'm not as sure as Randolph), but it's just overkill to insist on it. Rather than shoving these things down our throats, they should be introduced naturally so we can learn the patterns ourselves. KJ Charles is so good at that and does it successfully for deeper parts of their personalities in this book, so what's with the inconsistency?

Just to be clear, though, the book successfully made me care about Saul and Randolph. Their backstories wrenched by heart. Despite all that griping, I honestly think the story is really interesting. I need more, but I like what we've got so far. The time period feels fully realized, and I'm charmed by Saul so, so much. The sweet, hurt thing. I'm so glad Randolph is there for him. I'm interested to learn what Saul will become in future books. I want to see what kind of life the two can map out for themselves. I want to know who the Green Men are. I want to spend more time with the whole gang at Simon Feximal's old house.

Oh, and it's extremely charming seeing Sam and having him talk abiut Simon. I especially love when he tells Randolph about Simon's lifelong lover because it's the first time Randolph hears of two men successfully together longterm, and it fills him with hope for him and Saul. Ah, Simon's story is so good, and I love seeing it inspire other characters in the universe.

I hope we'll see Green Men book two someday, haha.

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not done but I really like it

Listening to this right after the letter makes me feel wistful. I think that's why I like this author. People are so ernest. As an ernest person myself it's a comfort. Listen to it. No one is stupid. People make mistakes. These books are honest, but they are not jaded. I didn't know I was tired of all the bowing and knowing it's a farce, but doing it all the same. A wink and a monologue can hold you only so long.
If you a a historical romance that has forward momentum. If you want a story were people hold true to their established characters. If you've seen a murder plot in a deception and felt annoyed and disinterested automatically. Read this. it's about people. All of her books are.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-15-18

Wonderful story, clearly narrated, but not sure the narrator’s voice “fit” for me

I adore this book, and the audiobook is well-produced, clearly read, and the narrator does a decent range of voices. As a matter of personal preference I found the voices a little too “light” and chipper in places - Saul in particular was higher and more airy than the stiff-upper-lip-desperately-trying-to-hold-it-together tone I had imagined, but it didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment. I think the narrator’s voice for the (sort-of) prequel for this book, The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, fit the tone of the text better, but again: didn’t spoil the book overall, and this narrator reads clearly and accurately.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bookworm
  • 07-28-21

Very professional

I was thrown initially because Saul has a much lighter voice than I expected and sounds younger than I had envisaged. However once I'd got used to him, I really enjoyed the narration. the production is very good, seamless.

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  • Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • 04-09-21

Enjoyable Story

The story and characters  are engaging and the narrator has very distinctive voices for each character, always a plus for me. Hope there is more soon.

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  • Will
  • 03-04-21

It's KJ Charles, we already know its gonna be good

The book was solid and the characters easy to get into the mindset of. Although upon realising the narrator sounded somewhat like Alan Titchmarsh on Time Team, it was very difficult to shake. But overall great book and I'm bummed the sequel isn't focused upon the same two characters.

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  • Mary
  • 11-12-18

Lovely

A very enjoyable book. I would advise listening to 'The Casebook of Simon Feximal' before you listen to this title as it will make more sense if you do. The narration was super.