Rating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel


Welsh water horse Nevan has no choice but to allow himself to be basically enslaved by a megalomanic earth mage who has kidnapped his little sister. Nevan will do whatever it takes to get her back, and he should have read the fine print better before agreeing to the mage’s demands. Now, his power is extremely limited by being unable to shift or even drink water, and he has to help an assassin murder a child. What’s possibly worse is that the assassin is the sweetest person and a ray of sunshine.

Seb is confused as heck when his contact for the job drags him away from the coffee shop and to a carnival. Even more so when Nevan steals and then accuses Seb of being an assassin. Seb is a nanny, and would never hurt a child. But even though Nevan himself can’t tell Seb what’s going on, Seb overhears enough to be able to put the pieces together. And when he realizes just how much Nevan needs him in order to be able to survive, Seb will stop at nothing to take care of Nevan and protect the children.

But with every loophole they discover, every clue they uncover, things just get more twisty. It’ll take the help of some unlikely people, and sheer determination on Nevan and Seb’s part, to unravel all the truths and stop the bad guy. And on top of that, if Nevan and Seb have any hope of acting on their attraction, all the truth will need to come out.

This book is part of two larger universes. The first is the multi-author Carnival of Mysteries world, where each book features the carnival, though it appears as what it needs to be for the story. The second is Russell’s expansive Mythmatched universe. This story works as a standalone, in that you don’t have to read any books of either universe in order for this story to make sense. But if you’re a fan of Russell’s universe, then you’ll see a whole host of familiar faces and, with the ending, perhaps a hint of what is to come.

As I’ve come to expect from this author, this story is filled with fun, quirky characters, humorous dialogue, and love between too seemingly mismatched MCs. In this case, Nevan is a bit grumpy and stoic, though it’s more a case of circumstance, as he’s spent much of his very long life alone. Seb, on the other hand, is full of sunshine, a total sweetheart, but determined and bossy as well. These two are a great match from the start, as they quickly balance each other out. Nevan is in need of Seb’s level headedness and care, and eventually Nevan’s life brings Seb things he’s needed as well.

The author did a great job handling the geas, and using it to push the story forward. Nevan can’t speak about what’s happened, and it’s used cleverly as a plot point to dish out information. Seb’s acceptance of the supernatural world and his understand of life in general really cement these two together. Even though the heat is minimal, the connection between them is strong and lovely.

The rest of the story is pushed forward by the need to save Nevan’s little sister and, as secrets come out, it reveals an even bigger mystery. Things are even more convoluted than they seem, and it takes time to put all the pieces together. In the end, though, everything ends with a happy bow. But as I mentioned, there’s a situation in the epilogue that foreshadows more to come in the Mythmatched world.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. Russell has a narrative style I find easy to read and it lends itself to an immersive experience. I was drawn in from the start and couldn’t put it down, and really loved seeing familiar faces and the hopes of what is to come in the future. This one is another winner from this author.

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