Lyon has spent fifteen years hiding away in his little stone house in a remote village. He used to be a sorcerer, working under an experienced mage until something went horribly wrong and Lyon barely escaped with his life. His sanity still seems a little bit uncertain. It has taken years for Lyon to get to the point where he could remove the bars from his windows or have a brief chat with a delivery boy at his door. But he rarely leaves his house or interacts with anyone, and is still tormented by nightmares and even thoughts of suicide.
When Tobin knocks on the door one day, Lyon is surprised to see his old childhood friend. Tobin was a soldier who become one of the King’s Voice after injury, and he has come to tell Lyon that the king has summoned him to come and help with a translation. Tobin is shocked to discover the translator he was sent to find is Lyon, as he had believed the man long dead. Lyon still has affection for his old friend, but even that is not enough to get him to willingly leave his home and sanctuary. But finally Tobin manages to convince Lyon that he has no choice but to follow the king’s request.
As the two travel to the capital, they slowly rekindle the close friendship they shared as young men. Lyon is still plagued by fears at traveling away from home and suffers frequent nightmares, but finds is is able to share a bit of his past with Tobin. Still, being around other people is difficult, especially when they are arrive at the bustling court. It turns out the king has some critical intelligence, but no one is able to understand the language of the messenger but Lyon. Although he agrees to help, things are not as simple as they seem and soon Lyon is tangled deeper than he ever imagined in sorcery he had hoped to leave behind him. His old nightmares seem to be turning into a reality as the magic spells lose control and suddenly Lyon isn’t sure he can make it safely past this task to have the future his has started to dream about with Tobin.
I read this book for Genre Week as part of our September Reading Challenge Month. I decided to pick a fantasy story as this is a genre I seldom read. What is funny is that I almost always enjoy the rare fantasy books I try, but I have a really hard time making it past the blurbs to actually pick up the book. I saw this one listed on Goodreads under fantasy recommendations and decided to give it a try based on its great reviews and the good things I have heard about author Kaje Harper. And I am thrilled to say I totally loved it.
This story has so many elements that really appeal to me. I love a good road trip story and the early parts of this book definitely have that vibe as Tobin and Lyon make the journey to the capital. I loved seeing Lyon slowly let down his guard and be able to relax with Tobin and they rekindled their friendship. He is so scared and this whole thing is so overwhelming for him, but he is incredibly brave and pushes forward anyway. Tobin is the most sweetly patient man, always giving Lyon the space he needs, even as Tobin feels such a strong attraction. Along those lines, the story also has a lovely lovers reunited feel to it. Technically these guys were just friends, but there was a mutual interest that was never able to be explored. So it is lovely to see them together again and able to reconnect as friends and then develop their romantic feelings for one another.
Harper also does a wonderful job incorporating the magical elements here, and the story becomes one that combines magic, ghosts, politics and intrigue, and lots of excitement. I don’t want to get into too much detail about the task Lyon needs to undertake for the king, because I loved how it all unfolds and I don’t want to spoil anything. But Lyon takes on a job that would have been impossibly beyond him just weeks before and manages to be brave enough to take on the challenge in order to help save his kingdom. I loved watching his transformation, and adored seeing how sweetly Tobin supports him and makes it possible for Lyon to be brave enough to go on. The story is twisty and clever and gets very exciting. I was glued to the pages and couldn’t put it down.
So I absolutely loved this story and definitely am glad I gave it a try. It is sweet and sexy and very romantic. I just adored Lyon and Tobin together and found them such a great couple. I loved seeing Lyon come back to life under Tobin’s tender care and for the two of them to find their way back to one another. Just wonderful and highly recommended.
P.S. Just another note here — this story was written as part of the Don’t Read in the Closet event in M/M Romance Group on Goodreads. That project has readers submitting pictures with story prompts and authors pick a prompt as the basis of their story. So this was written as a free story and is still available free at a variety of retailers (including Amazon and ARe). Harper describes the original photo and prompt at the start of the book and you can find the picture itself if you are a member of that group.
This review is part of our September Reading Challenge Month for Genre Challenge Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win this week’s fabulous prize of all 12 books released in September, plus an audiobook, from Less Than Three Press, as well as our amazing grand prize sponsored by Riptide Publishing. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on Genre Challenge Week here. And be sure to check out our prize post for more about the awesome prizes!