Rating: 2.5 stars
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Ramsey Roland had been looking forward to a fun, relaxing night at the bar with some friends. What he didn’t expect was to be chased and attacked by two men who seem to know him — at least, they think they do. Fortunately for Ramsey, the police arrive in time to chase the strange men away, though not in time to save him from injury. Adding to the unreality of the situation, Ramsey’s ex, Arron Carmichael — who he has not seen in several years — comes bursting into his hospital room.
Arron and Ramsey had been close, so close that Arron chose to share a deep, personal, and dangerous family secret with Ramsey. Arron, you see, is a witch. Magic is real, demons exist, and he and his family are among those chosen to fight the dark and evil beings that threaten the world and keep the peace between the mortal realm and the others. Ramsey, reluctantly, chose to end their relationship. As much as he loved Arron, and he did love Arron, he neither wanted nor had time for the sheer amount of insanity Arron was giving him. Unfortunately, the insanity is back. Fortunately, so is Arron.
While talking with Arron, some things become apparent. The two men who attacked Ramsey weren’t, strictly speaking, men at all. Their glowing eyes, the things they did — like freezing him with a touch or vanishing into thin air — hint at a world Ramsey wasn’t ready to accept, and a world he can now no longer ignore. Especially since the two men who attacked him, beings Arron calls hellhounds, seem intent on finishing their task: capturing Ramsey. Though Arron uses every power at his command, he is not enough to handle two hellhounds on his own and Ramsey ends up kidnapped. Now Arron has to save Ramsey, kill another demon or two, and find a way to return before the portlal between their worlds closes, trapping them both.
I… did not like this story. I did not enjoy this story. This story bored me silly. It’s a short, little story at only some ninety-odd pages, and yet it took me days to finish it. I found myself looking for other things to do, such as mow the lawn, empty the dishwasher, and goof off online rather than read this book.
So, let’s start with the reasons why this book was unsuccessful for me. There are three main things I look for in any book. In no particular order they are: characters, world building, and story. This book failed in all three.
Ramsey and Arron have zero chemistry and even less personality. For someone who dumped his lover over rantings about magic and witches, Ramsey certainly has no issue with talking about magic or accepting magic into his world. He has no problem with hellhounds, spells, or any of the strange things thrown at him. Throughout the story, he has no believable reaction to anything. Arron is supposed to be upset when he discovers his ex is in danger, but he just come across as mildly harried and a bit put out. I just can’t buy these two characters as people. It’s like watching a badly staged play where actors mouth the words without emoting and never interact with one another. They just wait until the other person has stopped talking so they can give their own lines.
The worldbuilding annoyed me more than the lackluster characters. The magic system carried no weight or believeability. It felt as if the author just said: “Magic!” without thinking about how magic worked. Why were we told Arron’s magic is stronger when he touched earth and yet he was no weaker in the Blood Realm? Speaking off, the Blood Realm. They’re old tropes, hell as a bureaucracy and hell as another realm, but there seemed to be zero effort made to make the Blood Realm its own world. It was red, and therefore called the Blood Realm. It felt lazy and boring and better done in so many other books.
And then there’s the story. To be honest, as boring as I found this book, the story wasn’t horrible. Just… meh. Because it’s all been done before — romantic interest has magic! Romantic interest must be saved from Hell! Romantic interest isn’t quite what he seemed! It can be hard to approach it and not be somewhat derivative, but it didn’t feel that the author even tried to make this story unique.
It wasn’t bad enough to be a fun read and wasn’t good enough to be worth the initial read. The plot kept up at a good pace, it just wasn’t well written. The characters were flat and somewhat less than one-dimensional, the world-building was non-existent, and the story was shallow. However, please remember, just because I did not enjoy this book doesn’t mean everyone else will have the same reaction. I don’t like giving such overwhelmingly negative reviews, but I cannot recommend this book.