Rating: 3 stars
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In a world where androids are entering the workplace and humanity is colonizing its outer planets, magic — and the races who possess it — remain hidden. Shifters, fairies, witches, and mages lurk in the shadows, keeping their heads down and minding their own business. For every human who might delight in the paranormal world presented to them, there are a dozen more who would take the horn from a unicorn, the claws from a dragon, or the blood of a vampire and use it for their own purposes. And this is Tai’s world. As a child, his parents were killed and he, and children like him, were taken to the Callensdale haven where they formed their own family, their own refuge.
And now the haven is on fire and Molly Rae, Tai’s sister, is missing. But Molly doesn’t want his help; instead, she tells him to stay still and to stay safe, a sentiment echoed by Ratchet, a fellow unicorn shifter and one of Tai’s chosen family. So, to keep his mind off of all the unknowns (is Molly safe? What about the children at haven? Was anyone killed? Did the government find out about them? Why won’t they let him help?) Tai turns his attention to the lovely submissive he found at Ratchet’s club: Gates.
Toss in a road trip, a lot of sex, and a slew of shovel talks … and that’s pretty much Fate in Suspension, which is the first book in the Horn and Haven series. For all that this story begins with the catastrophic event of the destruction of one of the supernatural havens, the focus of the book is on Tai, Tai’s emotional state, and his sexual and growing romantic relationship with Gates. The plot makes an appearance, and is the reason the two of them go on a road trip, but neither Tai nor Gates are really part of the overall background story.
Tai is a Dom whose relationship with his previous submissive didn’t end particularly well. The two just weren’t the perfect fit for one another, no matter how they tried. When offered the chance at another sub, Tai is on the fence. What he wants is the thrill of a relationship, but he’s not certain he’s ready to invest himself in the romantic side of it, not fully. It’s hard for him to even focus on Gates during sex, as his thoughts are all over the place, wondering what’s happening with his sister, what’s going on with his brothers, what steps are to be taken next, and how to get the answers he needs. In short, Tai is all over the place.
As the baby of his group of foundlings, Tai has always been protected and sheltered. The older children bore the brunt of the strain and stress for the younger ones, but as they got older, they also drifted apart; each one of them eventually left for their own lives, leaving Tai behind. Surprisingly fragile, Tai often needs comfort and support that he refuses to ask for, leaving Gates to guess when to reach out and when to stay still. Perhaps because so much of his childhood wasn’t in his control, Tai often feels the need to control things, or at least to seem in control, balking and sulking when Ratchet (among others) tells him to stop trying to help and just go fuck his sub and relax.
Gates, like Tai, is a unicorn — albeit one with faer blood. Something about which he feels the need to apologize for when Tai finds out. Gates does a lot of apologizing. When Tai finds out Gates has a job — this perhaps a day or two after they’ve decided to enter into a BDSM relationship — Gates again finds himself weeping, sobbing, begging to be forgiven. It’s not as though his job in the government (a government the paranormal community dislike) was taken to offend Tai, and it’s not as if Tai had any say in the last half dozen years of Gate’s life, but Gates ends up being made to feel as though he’s at fault and should be punished. Gates apologizes for his family finding out he’s in a relationship with Tai, apologizes for this, that, and everything in between, dancing around Tai’s temper and brooding.
Gates originally wanted a Dom to help him get out of his own headspace, out of his own skin; instead, he’s the one helping ground Tai. Working where he does, in the Department of Investigations as an analyst, he’s constantly looking over facts and figures dealing with human trafficking. Murders, missing people, kidnappings and death. And he’s finding patterns and pieces that are adding up to something being terribly wrong … and the weight of it is crushing him. But more of his attention is spent on pleasing Tai, helping Tai, and calming Tai down, which … I suppose works to get him to stop thinking about work?
The power exchange is an odd one, and not the one I was expecting. From the blurb, from the setup, from Gates’ own words, I was expecting Tai to be the one helping Gates with his issues, not the reverse. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it did catch me off guard. Because Tai’s family has drifted apart and the tragedy is here to bring them back together, there’s a lot of time spent introducing each new member of the “brotherhood,” as they call themselves. And almost every single one of them knows, somehow, that Gates is an agent — albeit one whose never left his desk — and that he’s part unicorn and part faer, and that he’s in love with Tai. And almost ever single one of them tells Gates to be careful with Tai and treat him well, all while Gates is bending over backwards to please Tai.
I’m going to be honest. I did not vibe with this book. Gates had so little personality and spent so much time pacifying Tai that I couldn’t get a good read on him, and Tai’s personality felt as thought it were 10% backstory, 90% moping, and I didn’t like the glimpses of him I was able to get. Several of the brothers seemed promising enough that I would be interested to continue for another book to see if it’s just these characters I couldn’t get in to.
The writing was fine; the pace, though, was unbalanced. It’s a long book, and a lot of time is spent in Tai’s head or watching the two main characters fuck with very little of it spent on the plot. The world building is nonexistent, in my opinion. If the author hadn’t mentioned Star Trek as one of their inspirations, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all, other than holosuites in the clubs and the mention of androids. The magical races — other than the faer — show little indication of being other, save in eye color. Overall, I feel like the whole story takes place in a generic city in a generic world.
Personally, I’d hold off on reading this book until more books in the series are released to see how and if story lines are resolved. As it stands, I still have no feel for the main characters of this book and no feel for the world.