Ryan O’Byrne has long tried to distance himself from his family, as he doesn’t agree with the way they use magic. But now he’s back in his small hometown, the town his family runs, due to a family crisis. Ryan might not agree with his family about a lot of things, but he still loves them, and will do what he must. But he’s determined not to get sucked into their world again and he doesn’t use his magic because of it. Ryan’s sticking to his self-made rules no matter what. Until his sister’s actions almost cause harm, and he reacts on instinct to protect life. And in the process, Ryan meets Leo Holt.
Ryan knows immediately that Leo is a shifter, though he doesn’t know what kind. And Leo’s easygoing and open nature draws him in. Against Ryan’s better judgement, he asks Leo out. The two connect on a level neither is expecting, and Ryan continues to see Leo while he’s in town. Leo, for his part, knows that settling in Byrnwood was probably not the best idea. But he’s found a home there, good friends, and a place for his abilities to flourish. He’s content and happy, and even more so now Ryan is in the picture. Even though he knows Ryan won’t be staying after the issue with his family is resolved.
With Leo, Ryan is happy for the first time in a long time. Maybe ever. But he knows it can’t last. And things get even worse when the truth comes out about what’s plaguing his family, and how Leo might be the answer. But the O’Byrnes can’t be trusted, and things take a dark turn. When Ryan stumbles across Marden’s Magical Emporium, he just might find the answer to saving his family, as well as keeping Leo.
I love a good paranormal story, and the premise of this one, and the entire shared world series of the Magic Emporium, really intrigued me. I really enjoyed the characters, MCs and secondary characters alike. There are some interesting and engaging things going on with the plot at large, and I was definitely sucked in. While I did feel there were a few problems with pacing throughout the story, overall I enjoyed it.
Ryan is a good person at heart, and doesn’t not hold with his family’s use of black magic. He’s done everything he can to distance himself from them. I really felt for Ryan, and the web he was caught in. As much as he doesn’t want anything to do with his family, he really does love them, so it’s hard to cut ties. The author made him believable in a way I didn’t expect. Often, it’s a weak conflict, and not at all believable that the character doesn’t walk away from their family. But McAllister managed to bring me on board with Ryan’s conflict, while also showing he’s a good person with a good heart.
Leo is his opposite, in that he’s laid back, easy going, and solid in his knowledge that Ryan is good. The easy acceptance of Ryan, despite his family, and his understanding nature really endeared him to me. Leo is just an all around good guy, and he completely understands where Ryan is coming from. More than that, he’s just there for Ryan, for whatever Ryan needs. These guys sparked and sizzled from the moment they met, and their romance was the best part of this book. I loved the way they worked together.
There’s a lot going on here though, and most of it stems from Ryan’s family. I don’t want to give anything away, though, so I won’t go into detail. There were definite twist that gave the story some weight, and I liked where the author took Leo’s storyline over all. There were some unique aspects here that lifted the story and that I really appreciated.
But as I said earlier, I had some issues with the pacing of the story. There were times when things slowed too far, and it wasn’t in keeping with the rest of the story. This was very noticeable, and worked against the story for me. I also felt that some of the larger aspects of the world building were glossed over, and while this might not be an issue for some readers, for me it felt like I was missing information. I would have liked to see a little more explanation about certain things, in particular where Leo was concerned. For me, it was a minor sticking point, but enough that it’s worth a mention.
Overall, I enjoyed this story. It’s part of a shared world, and the books don’t need to be read in any kind of order. The only thing that connects the stories is that they are all paranormal and that Marden’s Magical Emporium will show up in the book. This story was definitely entertaining despite my few issues with it, and I really enjoyed both Ryan and Leo and their romance. If you’re looking for PNR, consider picking this one up.