Adrian and his partner, Xavier, have been hired to find a missing child, the third blonde-haired and blue-eyed girl to be recently kidnapped. Her name is Lacey and she’s fortunate enough to have a mother able to hire a private investigator to find her. And not just any PI, but a mage. As one of the few mages who doesn’t belong to a clan, Adrian is free to make his own choices about the cases he takes (and his empty bank account wouldn’t let him turn this one down even if he’d wanted to). However, this also leaves him without the support of a powerful clan should things go wrong.
Lacey is found and returned home … but not even 48 hours after being reunited with her parents, Lacey murders her entire family and vanishes into the night. Adrian knows it’s not his fault, but he still feels responsible and needs to find Lacey to free her of the demonic presence using her body. But he can’t do it alone.
Sage is many things. Mafioso, lion king, business owner, tall, handsome, hung, rich, vicious, ruthless, and much more. Sage is also being stalked by some unknown person who wants to kill him. Really, it could be anyone, but after the latest attempt almost works, Sage goes looking for a mage to track down who fired the gun. Looking for someone talented but desperate, someone skilled, but not bound by the chains of claims and propriety, he finds Adrian.
Their first meeting has the pair fucking over Adrian’s desk within minutes. Something, some strange and ancient force, has drawn them together. And, now that they’ve joined, that dark and deadly force is trying to kill them.
This is the first book in the Mages & Mayhem series, a paranormal romance with mages, shifters, vampires, demons, and a variety of undead. Adrian is a mage with morals. He doesn’t want to kill or have others be killed; he’s determined to play fairly and expects others to do the same. He also has an appreciation for beautiful people — or just people in general, as he finds everyone beautiful with their own sexiness. It’s kind of him to think of every man and woman as beautiful, handsome, powerful, and striking, but it does get a little tiring as a reader when it feels like everyone he meets gets the same complimentary descriptions.
Sage is a braggart. He comes across as insecure about his place in the world, always making sure everyone knows how much money he has, how many buildings he owns, and how many shifters are in his pride. When facing vampires or mages or anyone with power, Sage is all bluster and chest pounding, but he’s really just a lot of talk. As a half mage/half shifter, he has access both to the ability to do small magics and to shift into his lion form. Once he’s fucked Adrian, Sage’s magic is stronger and he’s able to do more than parlor tricks. And then he becomes a vampire, making him the rarest and most unique of all things. I felt like Sage likes the sound of his own voice too much, as he reminds the reader over and over how rich, how powerful, how masculine, and how endowed he is. How much his watch costs, how many cars he owns, how many men are panting for the chance to be looked at by him.
It seems like neither man has to actually work for anything. They look at their spell book and the spells are memorized and they’re able to do them, much as they know things without having to show or explain how they got that information. The story feels like it happens to the characters, and it happens through exposition. So much exposition. Key moments are never shown, they’re told, usually in a succinct, brief manner with every motive explained and no real sense of the characters’ feelings. In one pivotal moment, when the Adrien and Sage finally get a lead, there’s no need for guesswork or story development because Sage pulls the answers from the woman’s blood and then just exposits several plot points in a dry paragraph or two before the chapter ends. The writing is very simple and straightforward, with an emphasis on telling, which leads to giant and sometimes clumsy exposition dumps and repetition, as facts given in one chapter will be summarized and repeated in the next, and occasionally a third or fourth. Everyone seems to speak with the same cadence, the same inflections, the same sentence structure and voice, which leads to the book feeling very one note.
The world building is this book’s interesting point. The author has tried to make mages and various forms of demons and undead into their own creations, tweaking familiar lore and stereotypes enough that I was mildly interested to see how those background pieces worked together. But, I have to admit, I was disinterested in the characters. With the romance being so instantaneous and so easily accepted by both parties, there’s no tension between Sage and Adrian. I found myself drifting away from the book as I was reading. Everything came too easily, too cleanly, and with too much telling. I’m sorry, but this book is a strong pass for me and I will not be continuing with this series.