Story Rating: 3.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4 stars

Narrator: Kale Williams
Length: 7 hours, 43 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Amazon/Audible | iBooks
Book Buy Links: Amazon | iBooks

It’s been two years since Seth’s brother, Jesse, was killed as a sacrifice by a witch disciple set on revenge for his mentor’s death. With few other options, Seth took it upon himself to avenge Jesse’s death and uncovered a ritualistic killing spree that goes back to the previous century. When Jesse learns the pattern of the killings and then the name of the next victim, Jackson Malone, Jesse sets off on his next quest to save the man from a gruesome end.

Jackson, who also goes by Evan and Sonny, is currently working as a bartender. He’s trying to keep a low profile and stay ahead of his stalker ex-boyfriend. He’s attracted to Seth, and while trust doesn’t come easy, when he learns that Seth is only passing through town, he feels a small loss. The men spend the night together and when an attempt is made on Evan’s life, Evan is shocked to learn the tale that Seth spells out for him. With nowhere else to go and a building connection between the men, Evan goes with Seth in order to stay safe.

Seth now has the intense job of protecting Evan. He doesn’t know exactly who the killer is or where he will strike, but he knows that Evan’s days are numbered. Seth doesn’t exactly tell Evan everything and Evan’s suspicions get the best of him. Although he finds himself falling hard for Seth, the story seems too big and too surreal to be true. The clock is ticking to save Evan, and Seth must go to battle with strong forces if the men have any hope of a future together.

This is the first book in the paranormal Witchbane series by Morgan Brice. The book has a true contemporary feel, but Seth and Evan find themselves in their own world of the paranormal. Seth has not made peace with his brother’s death and while he knows he can’t save his brother, he is determined to save others from the same horrific fate.

This book had a lot of elements I do enjoy with the setting and the magical components, but I also feel like I should have liked this book more than I did. As far as personal preference, the story was too simplistic for me and lacked that element that would completely capture and hold my imagination. I found the dialogue to be overly familiar and I either knew what the characters were going to say next or I have heard other characters say the same lines many times before and it felt cliched with a lack of spark for me.

The base of the story is interesting with a powerful warlock’s disciples ensuring their immortality with planned yearly ritualistic sacrifices. However, I wasn’t captivated with the way the plot played out or with the relationship between the men. Both men are guarded, which was understandable, but the two pieces of the relationship between them and the larger plot didn’t fit well to me as it seemed to be a convenience rather than a true connection. The larger plot also felt like it had many coincidences for the sake of convenience and it didn’t help to make this story unique to me. The pacing was such that I knew where all the beats would be met with this story as far as the relationship, the mistrust, and then the final showdown. The series will continue on with the men trying to save the next victims and it had a rote and weary feel to it for me. I have read a lot of paranormal books and, while this one was a little too basic for my tastes, it could appeal to those looking for just a taste of it.

It was enjoyable to listen to Kale Williams narrate this one. He has a pleasant voice overall and he helped lift this story from the pages. The story is a little more read than performed and while the characters only had subtle vocal differences, I liked listening to his reading. He did hold back on the emotion somewhat and when characters are said to be yelling, Williams would go lower to more of a stage whisper and some of the more intense moments were read at the same even level as the rest of the dialogue. However, his voice gave this one a little something extra and I would seek out more of his performances.