It’s Valentine’s Day and Devon’s boyfriend, Wade — who happens to be a deputy, a neat-freak, a werewolf, and his soulmate — wants to have “the talk.” It’s enough to make Devon want to run out of the apartment, out of Rowan Harbor, and far, far away. Devon knows all about that talk. Wade wants to do more than just be boyfriends. Wade certainly wants a house, kids, a picket fence, and a kitten, even. Devon, who can’t lie, who has the occasional burst of foresight, who happens to be perhaps the most powerful magical creature in all of Rowan Harbor, can’t bring himself to tell Wade the truth: He’s not ready.
Devon likes his apartment. He likes being boyfriends. He doesn’t want kids! Maybe a kitten, though. But only maybe. Before he and Wade even have a chance to sit down and talk about “the talk,” however, things start to go awry. The ominous clouds blanketing the sky — the ones Devon was trying to ignore — hint at a giant storm, but when he mentions them to Wade and the girls at the shop, they’re all surprised and a bit afraid. They haven’t seen any clouds. When Devon’s prediction of snow doesn’t happen, even Devon begins to be a little nervous. He’s never been wrong before, not like this.
Council meetings and preparations for the oncoming blizzard take up much of his time, and at a meeting with Oak, the powerful guardian tree spirit of the forest; Devon; and his best friend Jess, Oak warns that it’s not the snow they need to be afraid of. He asks for a meeting of Devon, Jesse, Fletcher the fox shifter, Isla the witch, and Cassi the vampire. That alone is enough to send a shiver up anyone’s spine, but Devon has to put it aside because worse news has come: Two children are missing and it’s started to snow.
This is the fourth book in the Rowan Harbor Cycle, and while it can be read as a stand-alone, it is helpful to read the first three books, if only to get acquainted with the magical, charming, and sometimes foolish people of Rowan Harbor. It’s a small town filled with supernatural people, hiding away from those who would kill them, trap them, or abuse them; it’s a place where they can live their lives, raise their families, and squabble with their neighbors. Protecting this town is its Council, made up of the ranking witch, the most powerful vampire, a werewolf protector (Jesse), the forest spirit Oak, and the half-fae Devon who may well be the most magically powerful man in town.
As in book one, book four is told from Devon’s point of view. Instead of seeing him as his friends see him, as a calm, confident, and powerful fae, we see his insecurity, his self-doubt, and even his fear. Devon’s mother, a full fae, used her ability to charm men, going from husband to husband, each one richer than the one before. The way she used and manipulated people into loving her left a vivid imprint in Devon’s mind and heart, and the idea of being tied to Wade, of hurting him or worse, being hurt by him, all but cripple Devon. When Wade says “I love you,” Devon doesn’t say it back; he’s not sure he could say it back. (Also, Wade drove away before he had the chance to find out.)
Wade, as a werewolf, is immune to charm. Well, immune to the magical fae charm; he’s not at all immune to Devon’s own native ability to seduce the pants off of him. All Wade wants is to love Devon and to be loved in turn. He doesn’t want to cage his lover or to own him; if anything, he’d prefer it the other way around. For Devon to hold his hand in public, to let him move in, to let Wade take care of him. But Wade is patient. What’s between them is a soul bond; he knows they’re meant for each other.
As much as I enjoy these books, Wade remains a bit of a cypher for me. He’s … perfect. So very, very perfect. If he has a flaw, no one else has seen it; not Devon, who loves him, nor Jesse, his brother. Not even Fletcher, his fellow Deputy. They all look up to him as a symbol of justice, fairness, and all that is good. I would very much have liked to get his viewpoint, not just on what’s between he and Devon, but what he think of his town and the dangers creeping up on it. Fortunately, Devon is charming and can easily carry the story; I just want to know what’s going on in Wade’s head.
Rowan Harbor is under attack. In the first three books we learned of dark witches and blood magic, vampiric murderers, and men who stalked and killed supernatural creatures, such as Fletcher’s mother, for money. While Rowan Harbor and its council have managed to protect themselves and remove these threats from their town, there’s more yet to come. I can’t wait to see what new supernatural cards Burns pulls from their sleeve. The world building is both entertaining and skillful, and the writing is clean and crisp.
This book is shorter than the others, more of a long novella than a novel, and it reads very quickly. The plot is pared down to its bare essentials with most of the book being Devon’s inner struggle on whether or not he can open himself fully — not just to Wade, but to his responsibilities to Rowan Harbor. His childhood was one of going from home to home, step father to step father, and setting down roots is a scary idea, especially when he loves Rowan Harbor and its people so very much. Devon has to make a decision and stop being the wise man giving out bits of wisdom. He has to choose if he’ll be a leader for his people in the fight to come or simply an observer.
I honestly can’t wait for the next book in this series. This is book four of a nine book series and, again, while it can be read alone, I do highly suggest you give the other books a try, especially as the plots start getting more and more tangled and more monsters start crawling out of the woodwork.