Love, loss, and learning. These are the lessons of Rowan Harbor. To love, despite fear, despite hurt, despite everything, to open yourself to those around you who wish to love you in turn. The loss of those you love and the loss of innocence. And learning, learning to be greater than you ever thought you could be, learning to trust those around you, and learning to trust yourself. Devon and Wade, Jesse and Sean, Fletcher and Conner, and all the others of Rowan Harbor have come through the long year of strife and pain the Summer King has thrown at them; it’s time to face the fae lord, to pick up Rose’s sword and make a final stand. For friends, for family, and for Rowan Harbor.
Fletcher’s life has been one of pain and fear. His mother’s sacrifice of her own life allowed Fletcher and his father to escape the Hunters, giving them time to find Rowan Harbor and start a new home, just the two of them. At first, he hid what he was, his shape shifting powers, but as he grew — both as a man and as a shifter — Fletcher opened up to his friends, to Devon, the half-fae, unofficial leader of Rowan Harbor, and to Jesse, their werewolf accountant and protector, as well as Wade (Devon’s werewolf boyfriend), Sean (Jesse’s dryad boyfriend), and his own love, Conner, a witch and son of the same hunters who killed Fletcher’s mother.
With such powerful friends, Fletcher often feels a little left to the side. Yes, he can shape shift, but what is that to the powers Devon has unleashed in the defense of Rowan Harbor? Jesse can turn into a wolf, has made friends with a unicorn, and is bonded to the territory of the town as its war leader. All Fletcher can do is talk to animals and turn into a bird every now and then. And now that he’s moving in with Conner, all his insecurities are coming back. Conner has money, has power; he’s handsome, smart, funny, and wonderful. What does he see in Fletcher? And what can Fletcher bring to the relationship? He’s not an equal partner, he’s just himself.
Conner’s father was a man who claimed to hunt monsters. Only, as Conner learned, he was the true monster, killing people whose only threat to humanity was having a few extra abilities, such as having magic, changing shapes, eating blood, or having pointed ears. Fortunately, Rowan Harbor doesn’t hold Conner’s father against him, but he’s still working twice as hard to prove he’s nothing like his old man. If it weren’t for Fletcher, who loves him unconditionally, Conner might not have been able to face the curious looks with as much ease. Conner wants to help, wants to prove himself, but all he can do in these challenging times is keep his head up, his smile on, and Fletcher with him.
The two of them are so aware of their own imagined failings that they don’t see how much of an impact they have made in the lives of those around them. Yes, Fletcher spends more time in the forest with the forest spirit, Oak, than he does at work, but he’s vital to protecting Rowan Harbor from outside magics and to keeping the forest healthy. Yes, Conner’s father was evil, but Conner isn’t. He’s one of them, a powerful magician who only wants to help others. With all the chaos constantly surrounding them, neither Fletcher nor Conner have really had a chance to sit and reflect on what they have and who they are, but so long as Fletcher can see himself reflected in Conner’s smile and feel the other man’s arms around him, he knows everything is going to be okay.
This is the last book of the Rowan Harbor Cycle series, and if you haven’t read the other books, you will have absolutely no idea idea what’s happening or who all these people are. Reviewing this book is awkward, because while it’s the final entry in a series I have very much enjoyed, it’s not the strongest book in the series. It ties up the ending in a nice, pretty bow, though I would have preferred a little more time with Fletcher and Connor to see how the two of them, both of whom thought they were outcasts at worst, or the friend of a friend you let hang around with you out of politeness at best, were doing in their new roles. I felt like the end came too quickly and with too little emotional weight.
The Rowan Harbor books are comfortable, friendly, and tend to have that wonderful small-town murder mystery sort of feel, but that feel was missing, for me, in this last book, I think perhaps because it was building up to the confrontation with the Summer King and the three heroes, rather than rallying the town around the enemy. The writing is, as always, good, the pacing is nice and brisk, and I honestly regret that the series has come to an end. While this book is a 4-star read, the series on its own is one that I will recommend to people who want a fun story with engaging characters. I really hope the author revisits this wonderful place in future books, because I’m going to miss reading about Jesse, Devon, and Fletcher (and all their friends and loved ones).