Spellbound (Book 1)
Paranormal queer romance in early twentieth-century New York City seems to be a trope I’m particularly fond of, so I didn’t hesitate to purchase this book when at least two authors I follow raved about it on Twitter. The story itself did not disappoint in any measure, from the romance to the action-filled adventure.
From the outside, Arthur and Rory don’t exactly look like a predictable match. But Therin throws enough wrenches in the works that their developing relationship charmed me. As a bonus, I adored both characters individually, and even better, the secondary characters were developed and unique in their own rights.
The paranormal shimmers just under the surface of this Prohibition-era story, mysterious enough to enhance the adventure but visible enough that Therin doesn’t need to waste time keeping things under wraps. Therin also employs a lovely mixture of elemental magic with traditionally “psychic” abilities in a way to be familiar and yet utterly brand new.
Overall, there are many things to appreciate in this book beyond the surface of “it’s a great story.” Effortless diversity, sympathetic villains, and lots of room for further adventures are just the start. I’ve already purchased the sequel, and I can never think of better praise than that.
Starcrossed (Book 2)
The events of this book pick up almost immediately after the first. I didn’t fall into the world as easily this time, and I’m not sure why. All the characters I enjoy are still there, though I wish I could have spent more time with Jade and Zhang instead of following Arthur around on his dull family responsibilities. However, Arthur’s secret occupation as a relic hunter is spilling into his real-world persona as “younger brother of the political elite.”
Therin shies away from truly exposing Arthur’s mundane life to that of the paranormal, leaving so many missed opportunities for conflict. Even the subplot of Arthur’s ex-lover fizzled in the most adorable way possible. I understand not wanting to put your characters through the wringer, but sometimes it’s not just the bad guys who have to suffer for the story to progress. Points should be given, though, for Therin’s use of character in shades of gray, former “villains” who might not be on the side of angels but are not the worst that our heroes need to be expecting.
Arthur and Rory’s evolving relationship hits all the expected beats for two people of different social classes who must hide their relationship. Rory’s age plays into this, and I appreciate that the men joke about it rather than it being another awkward aspect they must overcome.
My quibbles here about the story are still nothing compared to how lovely Therin’s world building is, combining Prohibition-era New York City with various forms of supernatural ability. I look forward to reading the conclusion of this trilogy when it is released.