Stephen has problems of his own. As he investigates a plague of giant rats sweeping London, his sudden increase in power, boosted by his blood-and-sex bond with Crane, is rousing suspicion that he’s turned warlock. With all eyes watching him, the threat of exposure grows. Stephen could lose his friends, his job and his liberty over his relationship with Crane. He’s not sure if he can take that risk much longer. And Crane isn’t sure if he can ask him to.
The rats are closing in, and something has to give…
Comment: This is the second installment of the Magpie Lord series by author KJ Charles. I liked the first book so of course I had to keep reading. This month I grabbed the second full length story. There are novellas but I won't be reading those so soon. Maybe one day.
In this new story, lord Crane is still dealing with the fact he is in a relationship. But his partner seems to disappear for long periods of time which he can't point out exactly why it bothers him.
Crane has the possibility to leave England anytime he wants but now he has reasons to stay even if the dangers of blackmail exist.
Stephen doesn't have as much money or influence as Crane and he fears what might happen if people find out about them. But while fighting enemies, Stephen can't really not help Crane or someone he considers a friend.
So where do those two stand while dangers arise everywhere to distract them?
I really liked this story, I think it's one if the best I've read because the romance travels at the perfect pace and it's not over the top or too subtle one can't appreciate it. It's special indeed to see how the author writes stories not very big, but with all the necessary elements connected in the perfect way to make them important and precise.
There are two main issues to entertain the reader.
There's the blackmail situation with Crane and a friend of his and there's the romantic relationship between Crane and Stephen.
The blackmail appears simple but as the pages unfold, we see more than one issue is connected to that. I really liked to see how things seemed to have layers, we discover something and from then something else comes up, then another and so on.
It's interesting how the author researches weird and unknown things and uses them here. I liked the twists and turns that happened to carry the suspense side and how things were solved in the end.
It's not the most ingenious plot ever, but the author treated with the right amount of care and seriousness one could expect, I think.
However, most readers certainly prefer to focus on the emotional part of the books and, personally, my favorite subject is the romance between Crane and Stephen and how that affects their choices and how others see them too.
Crane is confident in his position, his means and the fact he controls many things so he can go when he wants if he needs to. But now he has Stephen and his feelings for him are a lot more than just those caused by the magpie connection they share since the happenings in the first book.
Stephen is more intriguing. He's poor and he has a very strict life because of his job, we can say he's in the public eye and his behavior has impact on how he is received to work. He can't leave his job because he doesn't have other plans but his relationship with Crane is much more serious than anyone anticipated.
The author respects the fact the action is set during a time where two men couldn't acknowledge the sort of feelings Crane and Stephen have and I liked how that didn't ruin their love while they still respected the rules and how things were done in those times.
So, there's fiction and there's a semblance of what reality must have been like.
Nevertheless I also liked how vanguard some characters were because they still welcomed the pair and what they represent.
There are romantic scenes in this book and wonderful speeches that helped me fall into love with this installment. I really liked seeing them talk and accept they were in love and being together was more important than anything else.
This story really worked for me. I liked the pace, I liked all the elements had a meaning and a time and there wasn't any exaggeration in anything.
The romance compelled me and I can't wait to see them again. Really great!