This assumption is on me, but when I read the back cover description of this book, I assumed the main characters would be the action hero sort. Military, spies, etc. Imagine my surprise when, instead, Alex is a high school English teacher, and Bishop works for a company owned by his wealthy family. This shot of realism works well for this open-world urban fantasy, in which our heroes have intriguing but not particularly powerful abilities. In fact, Alex has spent most of his life doing his best to dampen his talents. Running into an old friend and seeing exactly how they are tied together, then learning the fate of one of his students, prompts Alex to use his ability to the fullest — even when it tries its best to drag him back into a life he tried so hard to escape. The mystery element of this novel ensured a full cast of characters rather than Alex and Bishop working in isolation, including Alex’s younger sister. I’m incredibly picky about teenage (and child) characters in books, but Winters struck the perfect chord with Cali and her relationship with Alex.
Alex and Bishop haven’t seen each other for 15 years, and their initial interactions allude to a pretty terrible parting moment. The chapters switch between current events and the development of their friendship as teenagers. Both stories develop naturally, and at first, I thought this look into the past was meant to simply show us how these men ended up where they are today. Instead, Alex’s past comes full circle in a surprising conclusion that I would have never predicted.
The characters do indulge in some discussion about fate and how their actions during the story affect it. Unfortunately, most of their conversations consisted of constant banter and jokes that began to feel repetitive. I thought it was fun at first, but I admit to skimming some bits to get back to any plot, whether the external or actual relationship or character development. At times, I even had trouble remembering whose point of view I read, especially if I had to pause reading for a bit and come back mid-scene. However, I appreciated that when Alex and Bishop reconnect, they follow a mature path of dating and getting to know each other as adults rather than falling straight into bed together.
This novel was an enjoyable stand-alone by an author I look forward to reading more of. It may not have blown me away, but there was still plenty to enjoy. I wouldn’t mind another visit to this world, even with completely different characters.