Rating: 4.25 stars
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As a very young child, Felix’s parents sent him north to escape the horrors of war. Though the war itself is long over, Felix is barely surviving. Absorbed into a ruthless and vicious coven, Felix is trapped. But when he helps his only friend escape, Felix’s life is on the line. By chance, he takes refuge in The Sanctum, where no one can harm another, but he’s traded one prison for another. Felix cannot leave The Sanctum or his coven will kill him.
A chance encounter with Ianos Teague changes Felix’s life. Ianos is anomaly, a witch hunter and a witch himself. Felix is inexplicably drawn to the mysterious and enigmatic man. Though their connection is instant and strong, and neither man can get enough of the other, Ionas’s dark past ties him to the Queen and he must do her bidding.
When the Queen hands down the verdict that sees Felix’s former coven eradicated, Ianos must obey. But he will stop at nothing to keep Felix safe. With Felix’s help, as well as the help of two mercenaries Felix has befriended, the four set out on a quest to track down the remaining members of the coven. And though Felix knows Ianos should also kill him too, he finds he cannot live without the man, and he cannot help but trust that Ianos will keep him safe.
But Ianos’s past rears it’s ugly head and together they face a foe no one expected. All the plans for the future will be for naught if they don’t survive what is to come.
The blurb for this one caught my attention and I was looking forward to diving into this world. Hope has created a complex and intriguing fantasy world where magic is both revered and hated, where lines are clearly drawn, and where the class divide is startlingly stark. While not without his flaws, the world building was immersive and I found myself transported to a different reality.
Though the story opens with action and danger, I found it a bit of a slow start. Perhaps it was because it was clear that Felix would find a safe place, seeing as how he was one of the MCs. But it wasn’t long before I was fully engaged in the story, waiting for the love interest to appear and for certain plot points to get fleshed out. As the story continues, the plot thickens in multiple ways and each serves to not only push the plot forward, but to reveal more about the MCs.
The author does a good job balancing the action and mystery parts of the plot with the romance story line. That being said, while the connection between Felix and Ianos is clear from their first meeting, I wasn’t quite buying their devotion to one another. They didn’t know each other very well, especially as Ianos had seemingly impenetrable walls built around himself, and it was mostly physical between them. Ultimately, toward the ending, some of that was explained. But I wished we’d seen it earlier to help the reader understand just why they were so drawn to each other and why these two men were willing to go to the lengths for each other that they were. That being said, the romance works for the most part, and I wanted nothing more than for Felix and Ianos to get their HEA.
While this story is in third person, and we get the POVs of both the MCs, they aren’t the only POVs we get. For me, those times it shifted to a secondary character only pulled me out of the story. There were other moments where there seemed to be head hopping as well, and I had to go back and reread certain sections to make sure. This again worked against the story, as it pulled me out of it. The ending was also off, pacing wise, and felt a bit rushed considering the magnitude of what was going on. It wasn’t until the very end that we even knew if the MCs were going to get their HEA and it seemed a little pat for my liking.
All in all, I enjoyed this one. While not without his flaws, it’s still a well done story that kept me engaged and reading. I really enjoyed the MCs, and they both had moments where they endeared themselves to me. There’s also elements of found family and a bit of redemption, all of which served to make this a good read. If you’re looking for a high fantasy with a well balanced romance, consider picking this one up.