Sebastian hasn’t been home to Strathmore for ten years, but his beloved father’s death brings him home again. Seb is out of sorts, not only because of his loss, but because his childhood best friend and love is there as well. Alex was Seb’s everything, but then Alex broke his heart, and Seb hasn’t been back home since.
The two met as children, while Seb was searching for the fabled Tree of Dragon Tears and Alex was hunting. From there, a deep bond of friendship developed, but as the years passed, more feelings developed for both of them. But Seb has magic and ended up being an Adept, which means he needed to leave home to train and marry another Adept to produce more Adept children. Seb only ever wanted to be Adept as a way to get away from home and his mother. But after he found Alex, those dreams changed. Alex wanted only the best for Seb, and so he did the unthinkable to make sure Seb had it all.
But now that Seb is back, he and Alex reconnect. Alex struggles with what he did ten years ago, and Seb is afraid to hope. When Alex doesn’t give him what he needs, Seb is ready to walk away. But Alex doesn’t want to lose his love again, and so will bare his soul in hopes that Seb will give him a second chance he doesn’t deserve.
I picked this one up because the blurb intrigued me and I’m always up for a second chance romance. I also really enjoy fantasy, so I was looking forward to this one. But almost immediately, I ran into problems that made this book not work as well for me.
The first issue is that this story is told in both present day and flashbacks. That in and of itself isn’t so much of a problem, though to be fair, I’m not a huge fan of flashbacks, especially when they are used so much. It seemed almost as if every other scene/chapter was back and forth between the past and the present. In addition, the present portions are told in third-person present POV, while the flashbacks are told third past. I understand the choice behind this, and I can give the author credit for that. But for me, the constant shifts in tense made my brain struggle to reorient with every new scene, so this slowed down my reading and lessened my enjoyment.
The second thing that didn’t work for me was the curious mix of contemporary language in what was clearly a fantasy tale. There was something discordant about that and it didn’t work well for me. In fantasy stories, I like to be immersed in the world. While there were good hints here, the whole fantasy aspect was fairly generic, and with the contemporary words and phrases, it threw me off while reading.
I liked both characters quite a bit though. Seb has suffered a lot of loss in the past few years, but he’s achieved his childhood dream and done fairly well for himself. He’s grown and changed while also being the same person at his heart. Alex, for his part, has had a rough life and has done everything he can to take care of his siblings. He also has felt that Seb was far too good for him and that he didn’t deserve him, which fueled his decision to break Seb’s heart with the express purpose of getting Seb to leave and pursue his dreams. Alex’s intentions were good, even though his actions weren’t. But they were both young, so it was understandable they would make decisions that weren’t great.
When the men come together again and finally admit their feelings, I had issues with the speed of everything. To be honest, they both admitted that they’ve always loved each other and that was it, they were good to go. I didn’t feel like they dealt with the hurt that drove them apart. So it was too big a leap for me that, after ten years of no contact whatsoever, they were ready to just jump into forever.
Overall, this book left me wanting in several key areas. Even though I enjoyed the characters and their growth, the HEA felt a little forced at the end. The miss on the world building also brought things down for me.