Kite is alone in the world. There is no other mage who wields black magic, who destroys cities with a single thought. He is despised and feared and by no one more than himself. Kite develops an obsession with a young man called Elarhe, an obsession that will destroy them both if they are not careful.
Magic is outlawed in the land of Elarhe’s birth. His tutor, who dared to teach him a few skills, was killed and Elarhe fled. His intention was to enter the academy, but instead he’s ended up on the streets, with no identification and no way to escape his increasingly desperate situation. It is far from the life he envisioned for himself. When he begins to cross paths with Kite, a persistent, flippant Kite, Elarhe finds himself overwhelmed and annoyed by the man’s attention. But when Kite saves his life, the budding mage sees another side to Kite’s dark nature. Over the weeks that follow the men will grow closer, but Kite carries with him a terrible power and if Elarhe can’t learn to control it, there will be no future for either of them.
Lover, Destroyer is something of a chaotic mess. On the surface the story seems fairly straightforward: a great lord rescues a poverty stricken young man and offers him a new life in return for sexual favors. So it’s a real Pretty Woman situation…at least until your add borderline hardcore but poorly portrayed BDSM, a jumbled plot, and characters that never felt comfortable in their own skin. The plot here stumbles from the start and never really defines itself. Events are mentioned but never explained and given this is a fantasy, it suffers from a serious lack of world building. As a result, readers may be left either scratching their head or wondering why event A had anything to do with situation B.
I’m generally a fan of BDSM, but I prefer reading it in the context of a healthy, nurturing environment. Lover, Destroyer often seems violent for the sake of violence and at least a few of the interactions between Kite and Elarhe are given only a frail veneer of consent. The idea of a safe word shows up almost as an afterthought. Now I realize this is fiction and not every reader will be bothered by the rough interactions between by Kite and Elarhe (and normally I love this kind of intense romance). But when it’s added to the stilted and plastic nature of Kite and Elarhe’s bond, it left me feeling completely removed from the story.
Kite is desperate for pain, but he has never received it, only doled it out. Elarhe arrives and seems to be a natural dominant, but I never believed that his character had the strength Kite needed. Instead, he comes off as slightly petulant and prone to pouting. Kite despises himself because of his magic and the steps he has taken to protect others from his power are admirable. Beyond this, however, he seems flat and uninspired. Which is a shame because the concept of man utterly isolated by his own magic and the nature of that magic was really compelling.
Lover, Destroyer had an interesting concept, but an erratc plot, an uncomfortable (at least for me) portrayal of BDSM, and characters that never really connect that left the entire work wanting. Unless you just love BDSM-themed fantasy, I’d recommend giving this one a pass.