Detective Thaddeus Ezax should be a powerful mage, by the simple account of his lineage. But instead, he’s the black sheep with barely any power. However, his name alone got him the job with the Paranormal Investigations Department. When he’s assigned to a kidnapping case, things quickly turn murky, as it’s almost immediately linked to a serial murder case that the department thought was closed. In an effort to get clues, Thaddeus goes to an unsavory source for information, and winds up in possession of a skull. Which he then, somehow, releases the spirit trapped within.
Nine years ago, Sandulf Hunter was murdered, only he doesn’t know it. Now he’s tied to Thaddeus. But more than that, Sandy quickly realizes that Thaddeus is his mate. Which shouldn’t be possible, as Sandy is a wolf shifter and Thaddeus is a mage. Not to mention Sandy is a ghost. But there’s no denying what fate has decreed.
With each bit of new information they find, Thaddeus realizes the case is much bigger than anyone thought. And he and the team have to work quickly if they have any hope of saving the missing women. But dark forces are at work, and even with his ghost-mate by his side, it might not be enough to save anyone. Thaddeus included.
First, let me say that I definitely finished this book with mixed feelings. The bones of this story are great. And the twist on magic and mates here is really interesting. I thought the author had some really great ideas about how things worked, especially magic, and I could get behind all that. But for me, there was something lacking in the execution, and the world building didn’t quite get to the level I needed for this story to fully work.
I enjoyed the characters, especially the MCs. Thaddeus and Sandy have good chemistry, and I liked the obstacles they needed to overcome. Considering Sandy is a ghost and all. There’s also some great banter between them, and I enjoyed the way they clicked. For me, their relationship was slightly underdeveloped, but believable, and I was able to go with it. So the romance portion of this book worked for me, and I liked watching them work through everything against them.
But where the book fell short was in the world building overall. Despite an interesting take on magic, I was left wondering about how things really worked, even with the info dump. And that also irked me, as Thaddeus had to explain things to his coworkers. Even though the Paranormal Investigations Department is fairly new, and it’s clear shifters and magic users don’t get along, it felt awkward and strange to me that they wouldn’t know at least some things about each other. But it seemed that both sides were woefully ignorant about the other, and while that would have worked if they were civilians, it was off to me that they would be so uninformed. Especially since the department had been up and running for some years. There were also a couple of plot points I felt needed better resolution, and would have liked to see them get more attention, especially with how big they felt. Instead, they were sort of glossed over and that left me unsatisfied.
As far as the mystery goes, I thought it was decently done. The villain wasn’t a total surprise, but there were definite elements I found intriguing and well done. Grand does a nice job laying in clues without being too obvious, and the end point was satisfactory.
So, like I said, this one was a mixed bag for me. For all that I enjoyed, there were points that kept me from being totally immersed and being able to fully enjoy this story. I’d cautiously recommend this one to anyone who loves PNR, isn’t too worried about the big picture details, and wants to see mates overcome some unique obstacles.