Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Trouble is brewing in Atlanta. Ravi, ever loyal to a paranormal monster-fighting entity known as the Trust, is still teaming up with Harry, de facto leader of a for-hire monster-fighting team. Together, they go on a reconnaissance mission only to discover a situation as dangerous as it is unlikely: ancient vampires working together on a plan to make them impervious to sunlight. Yet, seemingly in the blink of an eye, chronomage Cayenne saves the day by pulling off a move of such sheer power and cunning that it would normally concern Ravi. However, that is nothing compared to his delight at being able to continue exploring his deepening connection to Cayenne.

Cayenne organized a weekend getaway for Ravi and themself. As a chronomage, they can “reset” time, letting both of them re-experience each day again and again–with some intense benefits in the bedroom. Even as their passion spirals higher, so does time and Cayenne has been very clear that a future iteration of themself does something unforgivable in Ravi’s past. They refuse to share the details with Ravi, as they cannot change their own past and so they are determined to give Ravi a deliriously happy present. Even with calamity clearly in their future, Ravi and Cayenne cannot help but grow closer, physically and emotionally.

Things come to a head when the middle of August hits and two things happen. First, the long-awaited Chosen One, to whom Ravi’s Trust pledges fealty, is revealed–and from a most unexpected place. Second, Cayenne’s future self from the past does the deed. Ravi’s world is thrown in a tailspin as he tries to juggle the role of guiding the new Chosen One with the more immediate mission of trying to prevent Cayenne from the past endangering any people. The biggest caveat is that Cayenne from the past wasn’t the only one guilty of a transgression against the Trust. With Ravi’s faith completely broken, he is determined to throw his entire being into supporting the Trust and it’s mission, along with the new Chosen One. Meanwhile, Cayenne is determined to protect Ravi from the very same.

Shards of Trust is the second book in Fox Beckman’s The Trust Trilogy. I was absolutely delighted by the plot and character developments in this story. Book one (Stolen from Tomorrow) lays out the basic premise: Cayenne can skip through time and has done some upcoming unspeakable act, so they want to befriend Ravi and his team now as an act of good will/penance against this future (for Ravi) past (for them) transgression. Maybe it shouldn’t work, but there is such care in developing these extreme opposites-attract love interests, it was easy to set aside any disbelief that strong-and-silent Ravi would fall for the bombastic and flamboyant Cayenne. Another highlight was getting to know Harry and her crew a lot better and seeing them folded into the main action more closely.

Like the first book, the story has distinct splits between Ravi/Cayenne relationship development and Ravi/Trust supernatural monster-fighter developments. The melding felt a lot stronger in this book, because between the two main Ravi/Cayenne chunks, Ravi actually interacts with Harry and her team in ways that tie in some way to Cayenne, the Trust, or both. Plus, it felt like there was just more opportunity for Ravi to spend time with Harry and her team outside of actively hunting monsters.

For the romance specifically, there are equal parts physical and emotional intimacy. There is so much of Ravi allowing himself the space to be a queer man, to enjoy Cayenne’s company. This is possible thanks to Cayenne’s machinations and promises that a simple re-wind of the time will ensure any slips (a public kiss, a scantily clad pick game of basketball) will be erased from memory. And Cayenne is determined to give Ravi this freedom to be himself. It was crushingly lovely to see Ravi fall in love. Naturally, that made their parting all the more bittersweet. And, of course, when we finally get the details about how and when and which Cayenne is responsible for the abominable actions in August, these seemingly endless days of carefree romance left me grasping at any and all explanations for how or why Cayenne would do (did do?) what they did. The kicker: when this book ends, it seems utterly hopeless that Cayenne could ever do anything remotely close to enough to redeem themself.

There is also quite a bit of groundwork laid concerning the Trust that Ravi works for. The organization generally has a rarified, staid air and is powered by old families and old money. This book explores more about the dynamic of the Trust’s inner workings, mostly how Ravi’s being unmarried and not the Chosen One as everyone thought/hoped he would be boxes Ravi in. In this story, there are snippets of information that lead Ravi and the reader to conclude all is not well (along with a single thread of hope that something the Trust had done/will do creates a narrow sliver of hope that there is a way for Cayenne to redeem themself). Personally, I loved the tragicness of Ravi realizing the Trust is almost certainly not a paragon of righteousness, yet finding himself turning to it as an outlet for his utterly broken heart.

My only real criticism of the story is that there was no real good recap of how time traveling works, or the implications of it. Enough details were bluntly stated, like Cayenne cannot be in the same place at the same time as another iteration of themself because the experience is agony. But, sometimes, the finer workings of how time travel works are the underpinnings of major plot points. That comes into play when it comes to Cayenne and just what exactly they do/did in August and I just wanted to understand the implications based on the time-travel conditions, instead of based on how a character perceives time travel.

Overall, I thought this was a terrific addition to the series. There is so much bitter sweetness built into Ravi and Cayenne’s relationship. At the end of the book, I can only think they’ve gone beyond the point of no return and I am waiting with bated breath to see how or if Ravi’s and Cayenne’s differences can possibly be resolved. I also appreciated having the supporting cast come into the main story in a more meaningful capacity. If you liked the first book, or if you were interested in time travel to stories, I highly recommend this series.