Hank Lear is on a trip to Ireland to visit his roots as a sort of tribute to his Granny who has passed. On his last night there, he bypasses going back with the rest of the tour and instead heads out to find a gay bar. Upon arriving, he finds out they are closing soon, but the bouncer directs him to a bathhouse instead. It’s not Hank’s usual choice, but in the end he figures why not.
Once inside, he meets a man in the shadowy confines of a steam room. There is an instant connection as they converse and touch. Darren pushes all of Hank’s buttons, but when the man asks Hank to come home with him, Hank refuses. He has to be on a plane early the next morning to go back to the States. Darren is disappointed, but he lets Hank go. They run into each other a few more times and the connection is strong. But when it’s clear to Hank that Darren is hiding something and when he won’t divulge his secrets, Hank finally gets fed up and leaves. Darren does too and almost misses his chance to really connect with Hank. But a phone call from his sister has Darren running toward the probable hotel where Hank is staying, trying to catch the man before he leaves.
Darren manages to intercept Hank’s departure, and convinces the man to stay a few extra days. Hank feels drawn to Darren, who he has since learned is actually Darr O’Connell, the lead singer of a wildly popular folk music band. But Hank isn’t star struck; he wants to get to know who Darren is without all the celebrity trappings. Meanwhile, Darren’s sister, Anne, is pushing them to be together. Neither Hank nor Darren fully understand why as she is rather secretive. It turns out that the O’Connell’s descend from a line of families that received a faery blessing centuries ago. Anne has certain gifts, and she sees in her cards that it’s important for Darren and Hank to be together for Solstice. Eventually it comes out that the last portal between the two realms is closing, and the Guild that Darren and Anne belong to has always fought to keep it from closing permanently.
When the night of Solstice arrives, the headless horseman interrupts their ritual and the portal closes for good. Defeated, and with Anne in a coma, Darren thinks hope is lost. He knows Hank has to return to his life, and he thinks that they have failed completely. He grows surly and despondent, but Hank still has hope that they can somehow reopen the portal. Despite the fact that at first Hank couldn’t believe a word out of Darren’s mouth about all things pertaining to faeries and magic, he now believes whole heartedly. He’s the driving force to convince Darren to hold out hope., With the help of a gyroscope they found in the hidden crawl space beneath Darren’s home, the two men begin to understand that they may in fact be the key to bringing magic back into the world. If only they can figure out how to make it work.
This story hooked me right from the start. Hank is just so dang likeable, from the very first time we meet him. I got attached to him very quickly and was happy to follow along as he explored. When he meets the mysterious man in the bathhouse, I was swirling with his same emotions. Hank was so relatable and believable. When Darren finally, properly, introduces himself, I was right there with Hank as he experienced confusion and anger. The connection between the leapt off the page and there was no doubt in my mind they’d be amazing once they finally sorted themselves out. I simply adored both men and thought they worked very well together.
What I really liked about this story was the interesting twist on the fae. In this world, the humans descending from a particular bloodline are charged with protecting the portal between the realms. The magic in the world is dwindling, but it’s still present. Cordd makes use and mention of the little known faery creatures, the ones we don’t often see. Pixies, brownies, sprites, phoukas. All these faery creatures have a place in this story. And anyone versed in the faery myths will recognize them. I liked that they were an unseen part of the world, that the MCs knew of them but didn’t necessarily see them. It was a fun and interesting twist that set the story apart for me.
But interestingly, it was also one of the parts that dampened my enjoyment of the story. While the story is primarily told through the POVs of Darren and Hank, we get these little side trips into the minds of these fae characters. While the phouka was an integral part to the storyline and I enjoyed reading about his thoughts and conversations, the rest of the time, these detours pulled me out of the story. This might not affect you the same way, but for me it was not necessary.
My other small issue was that there was a portion of the book that really seemed to lag. Fortunately it wasn’t a particularly long part page-wise. But it felt like it was weighing the story down. I would have liked to see the action move a bit quicker here. After the fairly fast pace of the first half of the book, this third quarter felt overly long. I’ll admit that I got just a bit impatient waiting for the action to pick back up again. But once it did, this book ended with a spectacular finish. I was sucked right back in and reading anxiously to see how everything was resolved. I loved the ending and was very satisfied to see everything resolved and for Hank and Darren to get their HEA.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. If faeries are your thing, absolutely pick this one up. It’s a fairly low angst read that has good action and wonderful characters, and would be a good introduction if you don’t normally read this sort of tale, but want to give one a try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.