Read my review of the first book in the Hammer and Fist: Lextalion series, Sledge and Claw
I optimistically decided on my own that this series was a duology. Of course, this meant I got to about 85% through the book and panicked because I could tell the major storylines were nowhere close to complete. Ultimately, this is a solid middle book of a trilogy (at the very least) that makes lots of progress on multiple external and internal conflicts. There is not a full ending, and another slight cliffhanger might be involved, even if one less dramatic than how the previous book ended.
From the opening scenes, Cody does not shy away from taking advantage of the full implications of how magic is used in this world, immediately reminding readers that this is urban fantasy with a romance subplot, not a paranormal romance (even when it is sexy). Lex frequently makes his loyalties clear, which means dealing with multiple personal issues as “side quests” to the main goal of tracking down the main villain in charge of a trafficking ring. However, Lex might have a definite goal, but that doesn’t mean he has a straightforward path, and those side quests might frustrate some readers. I had a blast exploring this overall worldbuilding and discovering the multiple ways the various storylines intersected, even including a fun overlap with the companion series (Hammer and Fist: Geminatus).
Lex’s primary loyalty may belong to the Inter-Dimensional Immigration Agency (IDIA), but it’s convenient that his two closest companions also work for IDIA. Roberts is an excellent foil as Lex’s field agent trainee, and I appreciate that she enthusiastically follows Lex’s lead while never hesitating to remind him that his way might not end up being her right way. Lex’s declaration in the previous book that Tor is the scarier monster also shines through here as the nontraditional romance builds between these men develops further. Lex’s character development is very much entwined with the relationship arc, and Cody takes advantage of this facet of the story to fully explore Lex’s multifaceted nonhuman heritage while simultaneously flipping a trope often seen in other areas of “M/M romance.”
I’m not mad that this book isn’t the conclusion of Lex’s story because that means more is sure to come in the future. Just like I re-read Sledge & Claw a few weeks ago to prepare for this book, I already look forward to revisiting this fun and twisty tale at least once more.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.