Everyone in the world has at least a little bit of magic, but some have more powerful gifts than others, known as the Big Four. AB Cerise is an out, bisexual, internationally famous pop star, who has the power to turn invisible. He also has OCD, and with it the obsessive thought that if his ability becomes Known, others will be able to control his ability. Years of therapy have helped, but when AB meets someone who not only causes him to turn invisible, but then can see him while he’s in that state, he’s both panicked and intrigued. Especially when Matthew states that he thinks AB is his Bondmate. AB doesn’t believe bonds are real, but he takes Matthew’s number anyway. Because they literally spark when they touch, a glow of gold.
Matthew Hellman-Lavoie has whole-heartedly believed in bonds since his Granny first told him about them at 5-years old. As such, he’s been looking for someone he Reacts with ever since, ready to fall head over heels. Of course, Matthew expected that person to be a woman, since he’s straight. But as an Omnivision, AB is Matthew’s True Opposite, and that explains the epic Reaction. He’s ready to pursue a platonic bond with AB, but also willing to take it at AB’s pace.
What begins as conversations over text grows into an in person friendship between them. AB is still terrified of Divulging, as his obsessive thoughts keep his anxiety about being Known high. He also still partially believes bonds are a myth. But there’s no denying his connection with Matthew, even though he explicitly states they can’t fall in love. Matthew’s straight though, so though AB develops a crush on the gorgeous man, he’s satisfied nothing will come of it. But as their friendship grows deeper, Matthew is starting to see AB in a different light. And the more they get to know each other, the more Matthew has to accept that he’s probably bisexual, but that makes things complicated for both men.
Eventually, they have the conversation they need to have, and the honesty between them allows them to start a romantic relationship. But even though AB is out, Matthew is not. Matthew is a prospective NHL hockey player, with a contract on the table as soon as he graduates college. And though the lip service about anyone can play is part of the NHL’s pride campaign, homophobia still runs rampant. If Matthew comes out publicly, he could ruin his career before it even starts, As time passes, the men fall deeper in love, but AB’s rabid fans are constantly speculating about AB’s relationships and the paparazzi follows him everywhere. Matthew has to decide if he’s ready for that kind of scrutiny. More than that, he has to decide if he’s going to be the first out player in the NHL. He loves AB, and wants a full Bond. AB wants one too, but he’ll never push too far, fully aware of how difficult his life is. But with a connection so deep, the men make decisions that will change their lives. Hopefully forever and in the best way.
As soon as I read the blurb for this one, I was quick to pick it up, as I’m absolutely a fan of Fated Mates in any iteration. This set up was particularly intriguing as the AU aspect of magic being prevalent especially appealed to me. However, I found myself having a great deal of difficulty getting into this book and if it hadn’t been for a review, I might have put it down. Ultimately I’m glad I didn’t, as the story picked up and I eventually enjoyed it. But this book was a bit of mixed bag for me.
To begin with, the prologue is a cheeky article-type passage that is, essentially, an infodump for the magic system. I understand why this was done, as there is a whole heck of a lot going on here, but it didn’t work for me as I think the author intended. Instead, I felt like I was having to memorize a bunch of facts right off the bat in order for the story to make sense, and this put me off. World building is one of my favorite parts of stories, especially in paranormal ones. So to not have it included in the story organically didn’t work as well for me. As the story progressed, even with all the information, I found there were certain aspects that weren’t well explained anyway, and I always felt like I was missing a little something.
The beginning of the book had slow pacing and it seemed the major conflict dragged on too long. While AB had valid reasons for being reluctant to enter into another relationship, it was a bit conflated. On top of that, the reader is left out of details and only gets a few passing sentences to one of the major reasons AB doesn’t want more. For me, this didn’t work well, and I felt as though it dragged on far too long, especially given AB’s feelings for Matthew and that a conversation could clear up a lot. There were also a whole host of secondary characters, most who showed up out of the blue and it wasn’t entirely clear who they were. The seemed to appear and disappear, and there were certain times I actually thought that we hadn’t seen a certain character, and given what their role was purported to be, we should have. So this didn’t work as well for me either.
For Matthew’s part, I liked his bi-awakening, and his thoughts and feelings in this regard were believable and relatable. His journey to self-acceptance was honest and raw, and I appreciated how he embraced it once he was able to wrap his mind around it. One aspect I truly enjoyed was that so many of the characters were bi, and it was wonderful to see that representation. I liked that there was minimal angst surrounding this, with only mentions of some of the prejudices surrounding bisexuality.
But just before the halfway mark, AB and Matthew had that conversation they desperately needed to have, and from there, the book absolutely picked up for me. The pacing in the first part was too slow, to the point that it was becoming irritating. But after that conversation, these guys began to explore so much, their love grew, and they began to figure out their future together. I truly enjoyed watching them figure out their relationship and how they were going to handle the hurdles that life threw at them. It was mostly external conflict, and the way they communicated and worked together was so great. The sex in this book is fade to black, but it didn’t lessen the impact of their relationship in any way. I loved watching these guys together after that point and I really got into the book. For me, this is where the book really shined, and I found myself really enjoying it.
So yes, I finished this book with mixed feelings. There were parts I really enjoyed, and ultimately really liked the MCs and their journey. But it took too long to get to that point, and I was ready to put the book down at several points. It’s long, it’s involved, and things aren’t always explained well. But ultimately, I’m glad I got through the beginning to see this story end in a satisfying way. I would cautiously recommend this book to someone who is ready to sit down for the long haul, and those who really like a different twist on bonds and fate.