Jonah Pastern is a magician, a liar, a windwalker, a professional thief… which about sums up the character as we met him in ‘A Flight of Magpies’. This book is set shortly after that one and is a linked story to that world. You don’t necessarily have to read the Magpie trilogy to understand this book, but it certainly helps since many of the characters make an appearance here.
Based on Jonah’s actions in the previous book, I wasn’t sure he would be a guy to root for as a hero in his own book. And at the start, when we meet Ben Spenser – former constable, jilted lover, exposed homosexual and ex-convict – looking for Jonah in London because Jonah deserted him, I wondered again how this was going to work. Ben is determined to make Jonah pay for all of Ben’s pain and heartache. It’s a rather dark beginning to the story, and I admit it didn’t draw me in as quickly as reading about Lord Crane and Stephen had.
Even though Ben is angry and bitter, he can’t deny his feelings for Jonah and there are several flashbacks to the start of their relationship where they were happy together. Jonah made sure to hide his magical abilities, along with his thievery, and that gets him into trouble eventually, leaving Ben alone to take the fall. He doesn’t realize that Jonah had his reasons for running, reasons that involved Ben’s life at the hands of an evil magician. But Jonah also angered Stephen Day, who is also on the hunt for him to bring him to justice.
This book has a lot of angst and a lot of drama, between Ben’s anger and Jonah’s guilt. They end up fleeing London to escape capture, finally ending up in Cornwall and try to make a new life for themselves. It takes a long time for Ben to forgive and accept Jonah’s magical abilities, and though they still try to hide their true relationship and skills, things eventually begin to unravel. Stephen and Lord Crane ( described as “The right noble earl of Crane. Six foot three of money, mouth and cock. And his pet murderer.”) find them and things only get worse before they get better.
It certainly wasn’t a light and frothy read, but Ms Charles has done a good job of showing the heartache and the growth of these characters. The erotica isn’t as steamy as in the Magpie books, as these two men have a lot to deal with to work things out, but it’s still a potent part of their relationship. I guess I didn’t rate it as high as the other books as I missed the dry wit of Lord Crane to lighten things up a bit when things were bleak. Still a good read though!