A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.
A Charm of Magpies, Book 1
Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.
Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude…and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.
Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.
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.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Historical, Paranormal, M/M, GLBT+
210 e-book pages
Series, book 1
January 15-16, 2016
NOTE: This weekend started out to be complete shit in the book department. I had two DNFs within an hour when I sat down Friday night. TWO! I’m not reviewing them, I’m not discussing them—they’re noted on GoodReads and I mighta Tweeted my irritation. I was profoundly lost after finishing Alexis Hall’s Prosperity series and it took me a bit to regain my footing. I found this–which had been in my mind to tackle for quite a while. It turned my disappointment (and anger at the 2nd book) on its ear with lightning speed.
ANOTHER NOTE: I’ve come to the conclusion that I can no longer spout disdain for historical, paranormal, or sci-fi books and maintain self-respect or credibility. We’re only a few weeks into 2016 and that’s pretty much all I’ve read this year—and I’ve enjoyed it all immensely.
Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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If I had magical powers, I’d use them to whip up a maelstrom of Magical Magpie Love powerful enough to traverse the Atlantic Ocean and descend on the roof and surrounding trees of K.J. Charles’ writing fort. They wouldn’t make too much noise–just pleasing/soothing song at low volume. And they wouldn’t make a mess–at all (magical, remember). They’d simply enshroud her with everlasting inspiration to keep doing what she does. Also, they’d prevent headaches, neckaches, backaches (all aches, really), and finger-cramping as she merrily labors away at her keyboard.
This? Fantabulous. Ridiculously so.
Firstly, because YUM, the MC–Lord Crane–has tattoos. TATTOOS! Tattoos that span his chest, back, and downward. Hummina. Hummina. Drool. Drool. (The visuals of which have clearly made me a bit stupid.) I don’t think it’s a regular thing to get tats in Victorian era stories–especially inked on an entitled fellow of the English Peerage. So, Yay!
The writing is superb. The humor is somewhat subtle and vastly sardonic. Just my cuppa. The imagery, metaphors, and whatnot (’cause I’m still kinda stupid) are executed with utter perfection
Was I counting something out? I lost track.
Charles is masterful with creative curses–I wish I could remember them and call them all up as needed. And I don’t ever wanna piss her off, because yowza, it would sting.
The characters are astute, smart, realistically flawed, and well-rounded. The trio of Lord Crane, his man-servant/henchman Merrick, and the love-interest Stephen are a solid team and wildly entertaining with their banter.
This is a slow-burn romance with lots of ill-timed interruptions that allow the burn to grow from a slow simmer to a teakettle-screeching boil. When they finally do it? Mmmm. And awww. Fantastically done.
Technically, I had some minor issues with head-hopping within scenes with no clear transitions. It might’ve been a formatting thing where extra carriage returns were lost. I dunno. But, it is a little pet peeve of mine that perched scowling on my shoulder.
But overall? I’m just…in awe, really. This was fun, it was gripping, it was sexy, it was smart. It was everything I look for in a book. And bonus: with magpies and magic.
What’s better than that?
Oh, wait! I’ll tell you what’s, well, not better exactly, but a cherry on top. There’s a teeny-tiny free short prequel called “The Smuggler and the Warlord” posted on LoveBytes. It’s really quick but super-fun scene of Lord Crane and his man Merrick extracting themselves from a bit of a situation. (Four stars from me on that.)
Review posted on GoodReads, partial review posted on Amazon.