Kasey Ramos is a Magi living in dire straits. With the regulations passed by the Templar Order of National Organization (TONO), use of Magick is strictly regulated and all Magi have a curfew. Most Magi live in poverty and are scraping by. Kasey has had his fair share of run ins with the law, but he’s doing his best to escape notice now.
Kasey and his friends look out for each other, but Magi are disappearing, and when Kasey’s friend becomes one of them, he’s worried. When TONO agents show up at the bookstore where Kasey works, he meets Agent Logan Graves, who just so happens to be the man he gave his number to a few nights before. Kasey is questioned, but released. It’s only when Logan shows up at Kasey’s apartment that things change. Logan demands his help, and Kasey is so desperate for news about his friend that he agrees.
There is something nefarious afoot, and Logan is determined to get to the bottom of it. Even if that means going against protocol and using Kasey’s Charming ability, which is prohibited, to his advantage. Working together, they chase leads, but when they hit a dead end, it seems like the end of their partnership. But Logan finds out more and, together, they chase what they can in order to find out what’s going on. People are dying, and Logan believes someone at TONO might be behind it. The more they work together, the closer they get. But when Kasey and Logan are caught in the crosshairs, it’ll be a fight to simply survive, and they might not make it out alive.
The moment I read the blurb for this one, I was intrigued, but I have to admit I finished the book with mixed feelings. On the whole, the world building is good, and the author has overlaid magic with our contemporary world. Magi are second class citizens, to be regulated and tightly controlled. Though people are working to change that, they aren’t successful.
This is pretty much enemies to lovers, with Kasey and Logan at odds with each other throughout most of the book. But underneath their bickering, the affection is clear and it grows the more they get to know each other. As far as the romance side of things, it’s a slow burn, but it feels like it develops in a natural way. However, I would have liked to see more between them before that leap to forever that happens at the end.
The pacing in this story was a bit off for me. I kept watching the percentage left as I read, surprised when I got to the last third of the book before things really picked up. I will say that throughout the first two-thirds of the book, the story progressed well. But there was no indication this was going to be a series or more than one book, and I was concerned about getting a satisfactory resolution in the time left. It turns out that was a valid concern, as the pacing went from zero to sixty and a lot was crammed into that last bit. There is a big revelation, running from the law, declarations of feelings and acting on it, plus an action-packed finale, and just went too fast for me. It felt very rushed, especially given what happens at the end. And then bam, the book was finished and it was supposed to be all good with what happened and their relationship. For me, this would have worked better if the book was split more equally in half, and the resolution wasn’t so rushed.
Overall, this was a decent read with some interesting world building and good characters. But the pacing left something wanting for me. I would cautiously recommend it for readers who really enjoy dystopian-feeling stories with magic systems.