Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance
Casters Max and Kaelan met under inauspicious circumstances, but even during that first disastrous attempt at working together, they realized that they affected each other profoundly. A surprise attack leads them to figuring out how to use that connection beautifully and to their great benefit, and five years later, they’re best friends and partners, preventing wayward casters from completing dark spells.
They’ve had a ban on any sort of intimate contact with each other, preferring to remain close friends and maintain a working relationship that functions well, but that doesn’t stop feelings from developing between them anyway. All those desires that have no outlet build up and come to a head at the worst possible time—when they discover that a dark caster named Jannes is gearing up for a ritual that could literally destroy the fabric of time.
Figuring out how to deal with their feelings for each other while also stopping Jannes seems impossible, but the two of them have faced impossible odds before and come out on top—they’re both determined for this time not to be any different.
I love Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow, and this is another example of their ability to craft a story with compelling characters, interesting plots, and flawless writing. I enjoyed the heck out of this and really my few little complaints are only minor grievances.
The main characters in this story are an example of a couple that are great individually, but what really makes them shine is the way they are together. Max is steady, sweet, and level-headed and Kaelan is impulsive and abrasive and quick-witted and they’re both so cute separately. But then you see them interact in the beginning of this story in what’s supposed to be a platonic manner and you can see the depth of the feelings they have for one another and I just wanted them to fall into bed together so badly. They complement each other so well and there’s so much affection between them that they just lit the pages up and wrapped me up in their story so tightly.
Their romance also had a kind of interesting quality to it. First of all, the way their feelings come to light is both unusual and enjoyable. Most of this story is not about them discovering their feelings for each other, since those have been present but denied for years. It’s all about learning how to live with them, how to accept them. For Max it’s all about not losing what they already have, and then all about taking care of Kaelan who seems to have more trouble accepting the change in their relationship. For Kaelan, it’s all about thinking that as soon as he admits how much he cares for Max, that something will take Max from him. It’s a very compelling push-pull, and the way it’s so intricately woven between the external conflict here makes it really amazing.
The supporting cast really worked well here too. They had that perfect mix of being interesting enough to give the story some texture, but not so fascinating that they distracted from the rest of the story or the main focus of Max and Kaelan. It was also really nice to get a villain who actually felt scary. Jannes is a terrible guy, and we actually get to see him do terrible things, and he always seems to be not one but several steps ahead of our dynamic duo and it makes for a really tense, but really fun read.
In all honesty though, the external plot here is really the star of this show. It’s fascinating and fun and feels a little familiar in that we’ve all experienced stories about magic before, but it feels really new and inventive too. The world-building here is at a very high level. The setup is great. I think my favorite scene in the whole book is the prologue that details how they met. It’s just one of those adorable and fun scenes that had me grinning from ear to ear while I read. I also love the way the plot here never really takes any sharp turns or dips. There’s just a steady, natural slide into the main conflict, the middle part of the book ramps up the tension, and then the ending ramps it up a little more before letting it all out. It’s a very skilled execution of a story arc.
Just about the only complaint I have about the entire book is that the final confrontation with Jannes was just a little less than what I wanted. On the one hand, it took so much work to get them there, and they worked so hard at taking away all of his resources that it did feel hard, but then on the other he was such a monster, such an all around evil guy that it really felt like once they got into that final dance with him, it should have taken just a little more to take him out. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. And honestly, that’s such a minor disgruntlement.
A few more quick things: I love cats, and the cat here is freaking awesome. Saying more would ruin it, but holy crap do I love this cat. Also, each chapter begins with an “excerpt” from some magical text and I just have to take a moment and applaud these authors for taking the time for that. They really don’t have much to do with the story explicitly, but they help add such a depth to the world-building and grow the reader’s understanding of how the “rules” of this universe works. It’s such an inventive and entertaining way to do that, so that a reader doesn’t have to slog through paragraph after paragraph of exposition. Bravo for that.
So yeah, I would recommend this one for just about any lover of m/m romance, but I would highly recommend it for those of you who like friends to lovers or fantasy/magic stories. This was a fantastic read.