1925 New York
Rory Brodigan and Arthur Kenzie are recovering from the harrowing events of Coney Island at Arthur’s brother’s country estate. Of course, no one can know that Rory is more than Arthur’s appraiser, but Arthur isn’t happy about the man he loves being perceived as “the help.” For his part, Rory feels uncomfortable with Arthur’s wealthy brother and generally fitting into Arthur’s life. But still, the men are happy to have a chance to catch their breath and figure out next steps.
However, there is not much time for the men to rest. They have to deal with Rory’s ring, which is giving him powers over the wind that he can’t easily control. Plus, the men want to get to the bottom of who is after the relics and why. On top of that, Arthur is stuck dealing with family obligations for his brother, John, who is running for political office. John wants Arthur to escort an important guest to the governor’s son’s wedding and the man turns out to be none other than Arthur’s ex, Wesley, someone Arthur has no interest in seeing at all.
As Arthur gets pulled into family obligations, Rory and their friends try to find out more about some mysterious paranormals who have shown up in the city. They seem to be looking for the artifacts as well, and they have a frightening connection to Arthur’s past. Arthur can’t stand the idea of Rory facing danger, but he is stuck between his family and his desire to help his friends and Rory. Now it’s a race against time to figure out what the paranormals want and to stop them before it is too late.
Starcrossed is the second book in Allie Therin’s fabulous Magic in Manhattan series and picks up shortly after the end of Spellbound. The first book just blew me away and I was eagerly awaiting this next installment. The books build on one another and knowing the story from the first book is important for understanding events here, so you will definitely want to read the stories in order.
From an adventure end, this has a lot of the same excitement and great paranormal world building as the first story. We see the fallout from the first book, as well as their continued efforts to prevent the artifacts from getting into the wrong hands. There are new bad guys in the city and no one knows quite what they are after, but they are leaving havoc in their wake. And on top of that, Rory is dealing with figuring out his own magic and his abilities, which have ramped up now that he has possession of the ring, as well as a connection with Arthur. The story is exciting and has some really thrilling moments and it kept me on the edge of my seat, particularly later in the book when the action really takes off. I continue to really enjoy their circle of friends and watching the team all work together to save the world.
The story also explores some new themes with regard to Rory and Arthur’s relationship, as well as their class differences. As the title indicates, the men are star-crossed lovers who have to figure out how to make a relationship work at a time when men aren’t allowed to be together romantically, and two men of such different classes are not expected to even be friends. As Wesley notes, two wealthy, powerful men like he and Arthur could be friends without suspicion, but no one will understand why men like Arthur and Rory would interact socially, leaving them open to scrutiny. As much as Rory and Arthur love one another, this is a constant hurdle that affects their ability to be together.
In addition, here we see Arthur really struggle with how not only his station, but also the obligations that go along with it, affect his time with Rory and his ability to help his friends when they need him. He chafes at the idea that Rory is put with the staff at his brother’s house, rather than given a place as an honored guest with Arthur. He is also frustrated throughout the story that his obligations to the social niceties of a wealthy family keep him from being able to help the investigation at crucial times. And he is upset that Rory won’t take a penny from him, even when that means Rory has to walk across town in the cold instead of taking a cab, or is stuck living in a rat-infested apartment. So this story really explores some interesting aspects of their relationship and the way their differences make it more difficult for both men.
Despite their problems, the love the men share comes through so clearly. I love that while Rory sometimes frustrates Arthur beyond belief with his stubbornness and strong will, Arthur is also totally wrapped around Rory’s finger. There is such a lovely connection between them, I just adore them together. So this was another great installment and I am very much looking forward to more!