by Heidi Cullinan
Fantasy, M/M, M/F, Romance, Erotic
Reviewer's Purchased Copy
As a bisexual bastard born to a country stuck in antiquated mores and ideals, Charles Perry had learned long ago to set his sights low: all he wants is a drink, a dram, and a whore of each gender to share them with. But strange visions haunt his dreams, and now the ghosts are following him into his waking hours. Charles must seek help from an alchemist or risk running mad. Charles’s House blood makes him a high prize in magical circles, so he’ll have to be careful.
But what the alchemist discovers in Charles's blood turns the whole world on its head. And in the arms of an exotic male pleasure slave, Charles will discover a destiny so huge it doesn't seem possible, but it's true. Charles Perry, noble bastard, is the lost consort of the Goddess of All Creation. And as the forces of darkness converge on him, Charles must learn to channel his power to save the world--or risk becoming the pawn that destroys it.
When a book's first scene takes place in a brothel, you know this is going to be interesting.
I really, really enjoyed this book. The prose was well-written, the characters were well-drawn and the world building was extensive. We have magic, alchemists, witches, gods and goddesses, demons and daemons, family secrets and betrayals. The love scenes were erotic without resorting to cheesy porno dialogue, which some books I've read have done.
So why only four stars?
Take a look at the cover, this book is obviously being marketed as M/M, isn't it? And yes, we do have an M/M couple, Charles, the bastard son of the noble Perry and Whitby families and the pleasure slave, Timothy. But here's the rub, the book is not focused on them and in fact the first love scene in the book (not counting Charles' time at the brothel) is between Jonathan, Charles' half-brother, and Madeline, an apprentice witch.
There are so many characters that I found it hard to keep track of who was who and once when the author mentioned Emily, I thought, is that a typo? Did the author mean Madeline? No, it was me who'd forgotten all about Emily, Madeline's sister. And now we have another couple's thread to keep track of, Emily and another one of Charles' half-brothers, Stephen (and I had to skim back through the book to remember his name, see what I mean about too many characters?)
From the blurb, this book sounded like it was going to be about Charles and Timothy and that's what I wanted. I was disappointed we got to see so little of them.
It's not that I don't like M/F romances, I do, I read and enjoy them too, but I was expecting this book to be an M/M romance and I was disappointed that it's not. To me, it reads more like traditional fantasy with romantic elements and we just happen to have some gay characters in it. Not what I was expecting.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby