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Magic in the blood. Danger in the streets.
Lord Crane has never had a lover quite as elusive as Stephen Day. True, Stephen’s job as justiciar requires secrecy, but the magician’s disappearing act bothers Crane more than it should. When a blackmailer threatens to expose their illicit relationship, Crane knows a smart man would hop the first ship bound for China. But something unexpectedly stops him. His heart.
Stephen has problems of his own. As he investigates a plague of giant rats sweeping London, his sudden increase in power, boosted by his blood-and-sex bond with Crane, is rousing suspicion that he’s turned warlock. With all eyes watching him, the threat of exposure grows. Stephen could lose his friends, his job and his liberty over his relationship with Crane. He’s not sure if he can take that risk much longer. And Crane isn’t sure if he can ask him to.
The rats are closing in, and something has to give…
When Magpie Lord burst into my periphery back in September 2013, I immediately thought it was fresh and exciting. So of course the sequel became the case of high anticipation. Did it deliver? Hell, yeah! In some part it was even better although in other parts, I was a bit let down. It all depends on your expectations, I guess.
Okay, mystery wise – or the paranormal case that Stephen took and ended up involving Crane, that one ROCKED my socks! Seriously … it was a much better plot, involving evil magic, revenge that had history rooted back to China, and really REALLY CREEPY GIANT RATS!!
K.J. Charles has a penchant for portraying horror vividly, and the part where the giant rats came from within walls, that one was worth cinematic treatment, complete with original score and special effects. It was one amazing (and horrific) scene! And unlike in book 1, where the villain seemed to come out of the blue, this one did not. It was a smart mystery, one that took readers to guess along – and this one reader, who grew up reading Agatha Christie, felt absolutely satisfied.
Characterization wise – it was definitely stronger too. I loved how the relationship progressed between Crane and Stephen, I loved Crane’s protectiveness and his dominance and I loved how Stephen got under Crane’s skin. They were really so yummy as a couple, so fantastically hot (hello, their sex scenes were fireworks!!! – when K.J. Charles was willing to write them on page, that is)
Then there was Merrick … a BAMF!Merrick, who was as brave and loyal as King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table (sorry, I needed to make that reference, since Merrick is Crane’s manservant, just like Merlin is Arthur’s manservant in that BBC’s Merlin, who was like my favorite manservant ever … okay, sorry, slight detour there )
Unfortunately, I also had slight protest – which made this one star less than the first book. I felt that in this book, Crane and Stephen spent more time apart. Basically due to Stephen’s fear of what his colleagues would think of the nature of his external power, and the relationship he had with Crane, the Magpie Lord. So Stephen was being elusive, and often worked on the case for days leaving Crane alone, doing his own things. Unlike in book 1, where Stephen HAD to stay with Crane to get rid of the curse. This story was taken from Crane’s perspective – so I felt kinda disappointed with the lack of their time together because I didn’t really get to see what Stephen was doing when he was not with Crane.
Of course, that might be my problem alone, due to certain expectation that I had. I am pretty sure that if you love the first book, you will definitely feel the same for this one. Hands down, a solid and worthy sequel. Now what do you think I could do to bribe K.J. Charles to write faster??