Archer McKenzie is a modern day wizard, but since the world at large still isn’t ready to know about magic, he makes his living as a private investigator. When walking home one evening, Archer saves Kirby Langston from an attack, though he has no idea who the man is. Until a couple of days later when Kirby calls, and then shows up, at his office. Kirby’s brother, Derek, is missing, and he needs Archer’s help to find him.
While on the search for Derek, Archer uncovers that sinister forces are at work. Though they find Derek and rescue him, it’s clear dark magic is being used and that Kirby and Derek are at the center of it. To keep them safe, Archer suggests the brothers stay at his place, and only then do Kirby and Archer act on their growing attraction. When Archer discovers exactly what is at work, and what lengths the bad guys are willing to go to, he has to use all his strength to save the man he’s coming to love.
This is a short, quick read, and as such it definitely has its merits. The style of writing makes it easy to just jump in and go along for the ride, so I didn’t have too much trouble with the lack of world building. The characters were pretty well developed, and though I had some problems with the pacing it was, for the most part, an enjoyable read.
Right off the bad, the reader is thrust into Archer’s world, as he’s on a case. We immediately get to see both sides of him, the wizard and the PI, and we get a good sense of who he is. I would have liked some more background about him to really ground him, but as it was, he was easy to relate to at face value. Without getting too in depth into him and his thoughts, I found him to be a pretty well done character anyway. The author manages to convey his personality and abilities without it ever feeling like an info dump. As I said, I would have really liked more world building as to how magic works, but Archer’s solidness made it easy to just roll with his abilities.
Kirby is also fairly well done, but I felt like I was missing more from him. He’s an artist, a painter, and I wished we could have seen more of this aspect as I’m sure it would have fleshed out his character even more. I liked that he was a fairly easy going sort of guy, but that he had a solid backbone. He wasn’t going to take no for an answer when it came to his brother, and he wouldn’t be swayed in other areas of his life when he was being coerced to do things he didn’t. On the other hand, he pretty readily accepted Archer’s powers when they were finally revealed. It was partially because he’d seen the proof and partially just because of his attitude. So even though the quick acceptance was almost certainly for plot purposes, I found I didn’t have too much trouble for it.
So I liked these guys, and I liked them together, but I definitely found their chemistry a little lackluster. They sparked, but didn’t catch fire, and so while the complemented one another, I didn’t really feel any electricity or deep connection from them. This was a small problem when it came to the intimate scenes, as they didn’t have much heat because of it. That coupled with lines like “Here comes the meat-and-potatoes” during a blow job, and I found myself reading quickly and not caring too much about the sex. In addition, I found their declarations of love at the end to be a little out of place. Had this been an HFN, just them beginning and seeing where it led, I would have more readily accepted it. As it was, I felt like they said “I love you” because they were supposed to, not because they really felt it.
The end is where I had pacing problems as well. I like a good novella, so I didn’t have any problem with the length as it were. What I did have an issue with is suddenly jamming too much into the ending quarter of the book. I didn’t think it was all necessary, and because it was all there, the ending felt a little rushed to me. I would have liked to see certain aspects dropped so other points could be drawn out a little more. It was a satisfactory ending, but I was hoping for better execution.
Ultimately, I liked the book, despite my issues with it, and can definitely recommend it to anyone who particularly enjoys magic and doesn’t care if the world building isn’t too in depth. It’s the first of a series, and I’d be interested to see what the author comes up with next.