Payne has had a hard life. Abandoned by his mother at the age of eight, he didn’t meet his father until he was seventeen, and then promptly moved out of his father’s home at eighteen. But his father keeps showing up, and when he tells Payne that his grandfather, whom Payne’s never met, is dying and wants to leave Payne his property, he convinces Payne to go on a trip.
Once there, his father leaves and Payne feels abandoned again. But he also feels at home on the preserve, and getting to know his grandparents helps him feel settled. He constantly hears music, and it tries to draw him in. When he almost follows it, his grandfather finally tells him the truth. Payne is half fae and is close to his awakening. He will become fully fae and he is tasked with caring for the preserve and all the fae creatures that live there. To help with his education, he is to be tutored by the dragon, Aden.
Meeting Aden is a revelation. Payne knows they somehow have history, but he doesn’t know what, and their connection is immediate and deep. The more Payne learns about the fae world and those on the preserve, the more he feels he doesn’t know. And he’s drawn to Aden in a way he can’t explain. When he discovers there’s a cure for his grandfather’s sickness, he’s willing to do whatever it takes. Though Aden’s fear of losing Payne makes Payne agree to wait until after his transition, when his grandfather takes a turn for the worse, Payne makes the impulsive decision to go after the Wraith that cursed his grandfather. Though Payne succeeds, he nearly loses his life in the process. Only Aden can save him. If he can make it back in time.
I’m not even sure where to begin with this review, except to say that I really loved this story. I’m a sucker for stories involving the fae, and Dragen did an exceedingly excellent job of building the world in which it takes place. The different types of fae, the courts, all the little idiosyncrasies within this world really helped to flesh out and expand this story. It was exceptionally well done.
This is Payne’s story. He’s eighteen years old, but he’s had a wealth of experience, and he acts accordingly. Sometimes he is petulant and willful. He can be disrespectful. But he’s not afraid of responsibility and takes to his role quickly—once he understands what it is. I loved the way it was revealed to him, and how his first inclination was to call bullshit and run. But there was no denying the evidence in front of him, and his sense of rightness at being on the preserve. He is a well-developed and wonderfully drawn character, and I loved being with him on this journey. He grew and changed, became the man that he was meant to be, and it was perfect.
His connection to Aden goes beyond just the physical. They do, in fact, have a past together. I loved the way that Dragen handled this, as it could have so easily fallen back onto them being together before. But Payne had a choice, and he was a different person than he was before. What’s more, the connection between the two men just leapt off the page and it was easy to see how right they were together. I loved Aden. He was possessive but understanding, and the way he views Payne just worked. These guys were meant to be.
The pacing was good, and kept me engaged throughout the whole story. It was a tightly woven story with no extraneous scenes. Everything was necessary and important to the larger tale. I read this quickly, drawn in and involved with the story. The characters, the world, everything about it worked for me. I can absolutely recommend this book to you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.