As the by-blow of an affair, Fennrick Montfort has never known his family in any meaningful way. He’s had his education paid for, but as his schooling winds down, he doesn’t really know what comes next. And then Fen meets his half-brother, Xander, who is the current Lord Garrington. Xander is cool, stand-offish, and somewhat cruel; yet Fen can’t help his attraction to the man.
Xander didn’t expect end up caring about Fen. He initially planned to pay Fen off and send him on his way, a family mistake better forgotten. But then he discovers that Fen is a vessel, someone who produces large sums of magic, but who has no ability to wield it. For mages like Xander, vessels are objects of value to be used and controlled.
Fen has no interest in being seen as an object or being under the heel of anyone. But the reality is he’ll need a mage to manage his magic and his attraction to Xander makes their connection a natural and incredibly strong one. Vessels are incredibly sought after, however, and that will force Xander and Fen to reckon with society and their own expectations of the future.
The premise of Lord Garrington’s Vessel struck me as intriguing and initially brought me on board. Unfortunately, the book fails to establish relatable characters or a particularly engaging plot.
Xander and Fen are rather single dimension caricatures. Fen has more depth than Xander, but only just. I did appreciate the author’s attempt to give Fen enough spine and spirit to fight against the system he was trapped in, but it wasn’t enough to elevate his character above the mundane. The whole idea that Fen must have sex in order to manage the magic he produces gives his relationship with Xander an uneven and, frankly, uncomfortable balance that never quite resolves. Plus, it leaves Fen in the position of being treated like so much meat, there to be fought over but never fully respected.
The plot reads as more contrived than usual for this sort of romance and I often felt as though Fen and Xander were together as a matter of convenience rather than actual affection for one another. They were certainly in lust, but their relationship never convincingly moved beyond this. Despite this, there is something compelling about Xander’s evolution from cold and calculating into protective and nurturing. It’s not as developed as I would have preferred, but it does save both Xander and Fen from reading as completely flat.
I wanted to enjoy Lord Garrington’s Vessel more than I did. The initial concept was interesting, but the characters never really jumped off the page and the plot was relatively empty. Very little about this one worked for me and ultimately I found myself disappointed. Unfortunately, I can’t really recommend this one.