Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

 

It was supposed to be a normal night locking up the bar and going home, just like Hugo has done for the past year. That eerie sensation that someone is watching him is surely just nerves about being out alone at three in the morning. Except, halfway to his car, a group jumps Hugo and drags him into a dark alley. The blows start landing fast and furious; Hugo is sure he’s about to be beaten to death. Then…he wakes up in the bed of the most attractive man he’s ever met. Except, he’s not a man, he’s an incubus named Zaos. Zaos not only saved Hugo from his attackers, but he’s using his healing magic to help Hugo get better in a matter of days, rather than months. And it’s all because Zaos sees Hugo as his one true love, his viramore. There’s just one issue—Hugo is convinced that there is no way an incubus like Zaos can have a human like him as a viramore.

Zaos had spent the last week trying to screw up the courage to go to Hugo’s bar and introduce himself. Rather than cut to the chase, however, shy Zaos ends up keeping an eye on Hugo from afar. It turns out that was the best course of action, otherwise who knows what might have happened the night those men attacked Hugo. Maybe their first meeting wasn’t under ideal circumstances. Maybe Hugo is struggling to accept the viramore bond despite benefitting from it. But none of that changes the fact that Zaos and Hugo are meant to be. When someone has the audacity to try attacking Hugo a second time, Zaos calls in the big guns: his supernatural, superpowered family. Namely, his dragon-shifter stepbrother, Kian, and his werewolf cousin, Mai. Together, they hatch a plan to put an end to the man terrorizing Hugo…but it requires using Hugo as bait and the man after Hugo is far more dangerous than any of them realize.

The Human’s Incubus is a standalone story set in Michele Notaro’s Brinnswick Chronicles/Ellwood Chronicles timeline. Based on the timeline in the back of the book, this comes after all the events in the other stories and concerns a younger generation of characters. I have not read any of the prior stories and thought this book worked well enough on its own. That said, fans of earlier books featuring Zaos’ grandparents (Sebastian and Ailin) will probably enjoy the big cameos the elders get (and, to a lesser extent, Zaos’ parents Talon and Obidri’s cameo).

At its core, this is a story that’s all about the incubus-meets-boy and fated lovers tropes. Whatever else is going on, the growing connection between Hugo and Zaos always takes center stage. That said, the fact that Hugo staunchly refuses to accept that he could possibly be Zaos’ viramore for most of the book adds some interest. Hugo works hard to rationalize away all the ways the viramore bond affects him with mundane explanations. Zaos patiently waits for his one true love to finally accept it. One significant piece of “proof” Hugo uses to convince himself he cannot be the viramore of an incubus is the difference in their life spans. I wasn’t crazy about how easily this gets explained away, but maybe readers more familiar with the series world building can roll with the “just become a vampire” or “just go to Faela to drink from the kepie spring.”.Regardless, if the differential aging aspect to human/supernatural isn’t your bag, just know that it’s not really a huge stumbling block for our MCs in this book.

In terms of character development, both Hugo and Zaos have tragic pasts. Hugo has lost his entire family and has something of a target on his back for a drug-run gone wrong back when he and his sister unwittingly worked as couriers for a local drug dealer. That past comes back to haunt Hugo in this book as said drug dealer is out for a pound of flesh from him. Meanwhile, Zaos’ birth parents forced Zaos to engage in a more typical incubus lifestyle, namely to have sex for money. The caveats are that Zaos is demisexual and was not at the age of majority when his birth parents made him start working. In the present-day, Hugo’s backstory serves as the catalyst that brings him and Zaos together and builds the foundation for the main action for the story. Conversely, Zaos’ backstory sets the tone and pace for his and Hugo’s relationship. There is a long, slow burn as these two figure out how to be together, not just because of Hugo’s skepticism over being Zaos’ viramore, but because of Zaos’ traumatic past and sexual identity.

Overall, I thought this was a sweet little story and the events/actions are generally well contained to Hugo and Zaos’ timeline. It was a little weird to get introduced to Hugo as a bartender and Zaos as a nursing student, only to very rarely ever see them engaging in these pursuits. That is a personal pet peeve of mine where characters have clearly defined things about them—Hugo’s job for example—only for it to be completely inconsequential to anything in the actual story. Hugo, for example, locks up the bar in the very first chapter and his job as bartender isn’t mentioned again until the epilogue. The only other gripe I had was that, as a standalone, this book failed pretty hard to prepare me as a reader to understand that humans like Hugo and supernatural worlds/beings coexist as a matter of course. Only after Hugo finds out who Zaos’ elder family members are was it really spelled out that supernatural beings are just another, known element of the world as Hugo knows it.

If you’re a fan of this series, you’ll probably love getting to know Zaos and Hugo. If you’re completely unfamiliar with this world, then you can look forward to a get together between a human and an incubus in a world where the mundane and the supernatural coexist. Fans of fated-mates tropes, hurt/comfort themes, overprotective lovers, and mostly fluffy stories featuring characters with tragic pasts will have a lot to enjoy in The Human’s Incubus.