Ben Spenser’s life has fallen apart. He lost his job as a local constable when people learned he was gay. His parents refuse to speak to him. And he did time in jail with hard labor for being homosexual. Not to mention that he is now known as the man who was seduced into letting a criminal escape. The only thing Ben wants to do now is find his former lover, Jonah Pastern, and make him pay for all the trouble he caused.
For six blissful months, Ben and Jonah were together. Jonah was so lively and full of spirit and Ben was so happy with them. They had managed to make a life together, although a secret one, and Ben was happier than he had even been. It all came crashing down when he found out the truth. Jonah is a magician, a wind walker, and he was using his skills to be a thief. When things got bad and Jonah got caught, he took advantage of Ben’s feelings to escape, leaving Ben to take the fall for both of them.
Now in London, Ben is determined to find Jonah. When he arrives, he learns Jonah is wanted by both the police and the local justiciary for his role in the deaths of four policeman. Apparently Jonah was involved in a murderous gang and is the only one left alive. When Ben finally tracks Jonah down, however, he learns there is far more to the story than he ever anticipated. It turns out that Jonah didn’t quite betray him after all. And that as much as he tries to ignore them, Ben’s feelings for Jonah are still strong.
Soon the men find themselves on the run from the police and the justiciary, determined to keep Jonah out of jail. Eventually they find a place to settle, and it seems like they might be able to rebuild the trust between them and their lives together. But when they stop running, their past may catch up with them and threaten everything they have rebuilt between them.
OMG, you guys! I am so happy! Another book set in K.J. Charles’ fabulous Magpie Lord world! I love this series with the intensity of a thousand suns, and was so sad to see it end. So I was beyond thrilled to realize her latest book takes us back to that world with a spin off story, focusing on a villain from Flight of Magpies. I loved a good villain redeemed plot, and Charles does an amazing job unveiling the story behind Jonah’s behavior in that book, introducing us to two wonderful new characters in the process.
So if you have read Flight of Magpies, you may remember Jonah as the wind walker working with the bad guys. And you may remember Ben as the constable who was tricked into letting Jonah go when he had been arrested, seduced into allowing Jonah to steal his keys. In that book, we see Jonah only as the villain. He threatened the lives of our dear Stephen and Crane, not to mention was involved with a criminal gang that killed four police officers. What we find out here, however, is that there is so much more to both Jonah and what was really going on. We learn about Jonah’s very troubled past and what shaped him into a criminal. We get to know more about his relationship with Ben and the love they shared. And we learn the real story about why he was involved in the crimes, and most importantly, why he abandoned Ben when he escaped. Trust me, when you learn it all, you will understand exactly why Jonah behaved as he did, and I think you will come to love him as much as I do.
Jonah and Ben are such a fascinating couple. Jonah is high energy and just so full of life. He smiles and laughs and charms everyone. When he comes into Ben’s life, he creates such a spark, and bring such liveliness to Ben’s solid and serious existence. Jonah is the wind walker and Ben is the solid ground that keeps him steady. We can see so clearly how they work together, and in fact, how much each needs the other for balance. It is very hard for them to rebuild their relationship. Ben, in particular, must get over the past betrayals and come to accept that Jonah kept many secrets from him when they were together. But it is clear how much these men love and need one another, and they are so sweet and lovely together as they try desperately to build a new life together. I particularly loved seeing them settle in a small town and realize how perfectly suited they are for this quiet life.
Although they are set in the same world, this story has a very different feel than the Magpie series. While those are magical mysteries and investigative thrillers, this book is much more character focused. There are still thrilling moments of magic (Jonah’s wind walking along the cliffs in particular), but the focus is not on mystery/investigation like the other books. Instead we really focus here on the relationship between Ben and Jonah and whether they can rebuild what is broken between them. They just want to move on together, to leave the past behind and settle into a quiet life. But of course, escaping Jonah’s crimes, not to mention Stephen’s investigative work, is not easy, and the men must fight for their chance at happiness together.
As I have noted, this story is set in the Magpie world and features some of the events of the final book. I think Charles does a great job, however, of making this a standalone, and pretty much everything you need to know is covered here. However, I would never EVER suggest that you can skip that series because is truly amazing, one of the best m/m romance series I have read. So seriously you guys, if you haven’t read the Magpie Lord trilogy, you absolutely must. For fans of the original series, we get to see more here of Stephen, Crane, Merrick, Jenny Saint, and even an appearance by an extremely pregnant Esther Gold. I will say this book dipped dangerously close to making me root against our original gang, as I so desperately wanted Jonah and Ben to have their happily ever after. But in the end, things work out perfectly and it is wonderful to reconnect with these characters again.
I am not sure what else to say here, but Charles is just such an amazing writer and this story is just fantastic. I love the way the story carries across this theme of running. Jonah is an in the moment kind of guy. He doesn’t plan, he just acts. It is what has kept him alive, but also what gets him into trouble. Charles parallels this with his wind walking so perfectly — you must keep moving or else you will fall. And Ben is his solid strength, the one who plans and thinks things through and keeps him grounded. I loved the connection between these two men and the way they complement one another. I rooted for Ben and Jonah as they figured things out between them and tried to make a new life together. I was thrilled as the secrets were uncovered and we learned that Jonah didn’t really betray Ben after all, that there is a good heart there and that he can be trusted to safe guard Ben’s heart in return. I just loved this story and very highly recommend it.