Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing.
This was such a magical, steamy, witty, entertaining read! Having read a couple M/M historical romance by Cat Sebastian, I was prompted by Ellepkay to check out Ms Charles books. Thanks for that recommendation – I wasn’t disappointed! This first book in the series had me hooked pretty much from the first page and I devoured the rest of it in short order. It’s one of those books that for me fall into the three stages of reading:
Luckily for me, there are more books in this series, and more after that.
Lord Lucien Vaudrey, new Earl of Crane, has returned to England to claim his birthright after being exiled to China for 20 years. He is the typical male of the aristocracy – tall, blond, arrogant, wears clothing well, but also very intelligent and sexy as sin. (I don’t think the cover version does him justice.) The unexpected and unwanted title has fallen to him following the suicide deaths of his father and brother, both of whom were despicable men. Lucien has no desire to stay in England any longer than necessary to deal with the estate affairs and then return to England with his trusted companion, Merrick. Unfortunately, he starts to have dreams where he attempts to kill himself and he needs help of the magical sort to help him figure out what’s happening.
This brings Stephen Day into his life. Stephen is an unassuming, small stature man who wields a lot of power in the world of magic. He is a justiciar, and is someone who can defeat warlocks and witches that wreak havoc on people. He is also the son of a man that Lucien’s father destroyed years ago. It’s not the best association, but soon Stephen realizes that this is a serious situation and he vows to find the reason for the attempts on Lucian’s life. In the course of the investigation, he discovers that the first Earl of Crane was known as the Magpie Lord, and was a powerful force in the magic world. Magpies are the family bird, so to speak, and there are always flocks of them around the manor; Lucien even has several tattoos of them in various places on his body.
“Is there a reason you have seven magpies tattooed on you?”
“Seven for a secret never to be told.” Crane shrugged, making a magpie ripple. “Actually, I just ran out of useful space.”
It doesn’t take long before the two men realize that there is an attraction between them that neither of them expected. The chemistry between these two is like sparks and tinder, you can feel the heat jumping off the page. In China, Lucien was able to live openly as a gay man, nobody batted an eye at his affairs. He quite frankly doesn’t care what people in England think of him, and he wants Stephen badly. The dialogue between them is by turns hilarious and downright dirty.
“You wanted me to fuck you, didn’t you?”
Stephen shut his eyes. “Briefly.”
Crane lowered his head so his mouth was right on Stephen’s ear, voice vibrating, teeth and tongue touching the sensitive flesh. “When I fuck you, Mr. Day, it will not be briefly. It will be long and hard and extremely thorough. I’m going to take pains with you.”
Of course, there is the curse to deal with, and it turns out to be a more complicated situation than Stephen originally thought. Things come to a an action filled conclusion, and Lucien and Stephen also have their own passionate moments. I’m not sure if the villains were really well fleshed out, but we did get the explanation of why they were after Lucien.
Overall, I loved this book. I could happily read about Lucien and Merrick’s adventures in China, or about Stephen’s adventures with his partner Esther (not seen in this book, but mentioned so maybe there will be more in the next book), and of course Lucien and Stephen together! Much like with Kelly Bowen’s books, this author writes great characters, witty dialogue and hot romance.
ETA – when I went to look for the next book in the series on Amazon, it wasn’t there nor were the other books in the series. I checked Ms Charles’ website, and discovered that due to the closure of Samhain a lot of her books are not available now. She is deciding whether to self publish or find a new publisher for this series, and some of the others. This book was on Amazon yet when I posted the link, but I’m not sure how long it will be there. Guess I’ll have to wait awhile to read the rest of the series, boo….
ETA2 – I have just discovered that Ms Charles has been able to purchase the rights to her books from Samhain and is self-publishing those! Happily I was able to purchase the next two books in the series and will be able to continue my enjoyment of the world of Lucien and Stephen. The book link here now is to the correct book, though the covers are now different.