Klint is an Alma, an immortal magician, and he is no stranger to heartache. His mortal lover died cursing the immortal Klint, an event that has haunted him and destroyed any notions of love. Instead, he busies himself in his underground potions laboratory and longs for the day he can open an apothecary away from the walls of the castle where Alma study magic. Before he can make any serious inquiries with the highest Alma, however, Klint is sent to a neighboring land where a prince has fallen under a mysterious sleeping spell. Klint is dismayed to find Carishina, a young and seemingly clumsy mage, has invited herself along. Yet Klint agrees to let her accompany him and immediately begins to regret his decision when Carishina adamantly insists a kiss will rouse the sleeping royal.
Except a kiss is exactly what it takes to awaken Prince Yarling. But no one could have foreseen it would be Klint’s kiss to do the job. For one thing, Klint kind of fell lips-first upon the prince rather than kiss him. For another, Yarling was hoping a kiss from the guardsman he yearned for would have done the trick. Now, Yarling and Klint are in something of a predicament. Yarling is desperate for the affections of the guardsman and isn’t above making a few menacing threats to get Klint’s help. Klint, on the other hand, is eager to save face by proving it was one of his potions—not a kiss—that woke the prince. In the end, Klint enlists the help of Carishina and a few others to help the prince win the heart of a disinterested guard…and realises he may not be indifferent to love himself in the process.
I enjoyed this book to pieces. Cassidy does a wonderful job fleshing out the main characters and principle supporting cast in ways that make them pop from the page. I rather appreciated that Klint’s heartache and the reason for it are described clearly and without the shrouds of a mysterious past. It was easy to see the ramifications this heartbreak has on Klint’s behavior, namely his aversion to love and his insistence that he did not kiss Yarling awake. I found Klint’s introduction and general aloofness to make for a delightful juxtaposition to his reaction to and interactions with Yarling. Despite Klint swearing off love, he feels a powerful attraction to Yarling. The despair is almost palpable as Klint works with Yarling, pretending to court the prince, in an effort to make the guardsman jealous. As someone who enjoys a bit of unrequited love, Breaking His Spell has that in spades.
Yarling was also a delightful character. I feel he would fall under what you could consider a “chaotic neutral” personality. His feelings towards the guard are no secret, but the lengths to which Yarling is willing to go to woo the man raised some eyebrows. Without giving too much away, I initially wondered if Yarling wasn’t perhaps an antagonist rather than a potential love interest for Klint. This possibility is further reinforced by the appearance of Yarling’s childhood friend and rather attractive best friend (among other things), Desian. It turns out Desian is loyal to Yarling to a fault and offers tips for things Yarling and Klint can do to make the guard jealous. I felt like Yarling’s laser-like focus on getting the guard to love him added some complexity to the relationships. For example, we learn that Yarling was willing to use a love potion on the guard, but it was Klint who changed Yarling’s mind about that.
As far as the world building goes, I enjoyed the consistency with which Cassidy describes the Alma and how their magical society is organized. I didn’t feel bogged down with the details, but had enough to feel like I had a solid grasp of how things worked. At some point, a person develops a special marking that denotes them as a natural-born magic user. These people are almost always sent off to the Alsa Alma to study their craft. At the same time, there are many people who never get this mark and practice magic, even though they’ll never be nearly as competent as an Alma. There are a few touches of classism regarding the dynamic between Alma and non-Alma magic users, but it’s not a big theme. The politics are less clearly defined, except that we learn that the Alsa Alma is the highest power in the land; Yarling’s status as prince and his royal parents are more symbolic allusions to power—a way for the people they rule over to feel like they have some control over their own lives. Again, this is even less prominent than the Alma/non-Alma but it does come up, and does substantiate some of Yarling’s actions.
On the whole, I found this story to be rather delightful. The fantasy world felt fleshed out in meaningful ways that helped establish or corroborate the characters’ world views and their behavior. Watching Klint transform from a love curmudgeon into a man hopelessly in love was bittersweet because of how impossible it seems for Klint’s love to be returned. Yarling’s role felt deliciously dubious…I wasn’t sure if I should love him or loathe him at first. Yet the whole story gets wrapped up in a rather satisfactory, HEA way. If you like fantasies and unrequited love themes, along with true love conquers all, then I imagine you’d enjoy this.