Jack isn’t one much for people. He lives in the woods that border Reeve’s Creek, which is a small town in the middle of nowhere. The people there know Jack, and know better than to wander in his woods and get in his way. They also know to go to him when a certain sort of trouble starts lurking outside the windows at night, or when someone goes missing, or starts causing problems. Reeve’s Creek takes care of itself and its own, and isn’t exactly welcoming to strangers. Until the old sheriff is replaced by a new one. Mason is a tall, quiet, handsome man with lazily warm smiles, an infinite patience, and just a bit of something special.
For all that this book has a great deal of magical happenings — and a few mundane — it reads very much like a sleepy slice of life. Jack is a witch who lives in the deep, dark woods. He keeps to himself, knowing that there’s as much bad in people as good, and he’s had his fill of the bad. He knows he’s not handsome, knows he’s not friendly, knows everything he’s not. And while Jack watches over the town, he’s never felt like a part of it or very welcome there. Perhaps because he’s made certain that the town knows how unwelcome they are in his woods.
Mason has a definite sense of mischief and an adventurous spirit; for all that, he’s a paladin at heart. Working as a police officer didn’t suit him at all. The politics, the “one hand washing the other” approach to law and order, the entitlement, and the competition. Here, in a town so small that everyone quite literally knows everyone else, Mason has a chance to really make a difference. But getting to know the man in the woods is harder than it sounds.
Jack isn’t rude or curt. He’s shy and wary. Instead of chasing Mason away, Jack seems more confused about why he’s there. Flinching like a dog expecting a blow, Jack stares at Mason like he’s looking for answers, and if Mason had them to give, he would. He’s neither afraid or nor put off by Jack’s ways. On the contrary, he’s drawn to the handsome man with his grace and confidence. Jack’s little oddness, his charms and herbs and ‘guardian of the forest’ vibe appeal to Mason. And when it turns out Jack may be more witch than wiccan, that the dark parts of the forest actually do hide ghosts and monsters, Mason finds himself more impressed than ever with Jack.
For all that the two men fall into bed after a dangerous moment, redirecting fear into passion, the book is a bit of a slow burn as the two of them circle around one another. Or rather, as Jack circles and Mason waits, calm and caring until Jack can finally sit down next to him. This is a slow book, more thoughtful and somewhat sleepy, with the loose idea of a plot giving the characters something to talk about as they get to know one another. If you’re looking for a lot of plot, world building, or heat, you might end up disappointed by this quiet little book. But if you’re in the right mood when you give it a try, you might find yourself enjoying it.