Saturday, June 22, 2024

Jenya Keefe - The Musician and the Monster

Ángel Cruz is a dedicated session musician, until loyalty to his estranged family forces him to work for Oberon: the feared and hated envoy from the Otherworld. Overnight, Ángel is taken from his life, his friends, his work, and trapped in a hideous mansion in the middle of nowhere, under constant surveillance, and with only the frightening fae for company.
Oberon’s poor understanding of humans combined with Ángel’s resentment and loneliness threaten to cause real harm to the pair. Then a long winter together in the mansion unites them in their love of music. Slowly, Ángel’s anger thaws, and he begins to realize that Oberon feels alone too.
Gradually, these two souls from different worlds form a connection like none other. But hate and prejudice are powerful things, and it’ll take all the magic of their love to stop the wider world from forcing them apart.

Comment: I can't remember why I added this book to my TBR. Probably, it had something to do with the fact the main couple would be a mix of human and fae and I wanted to see what the author would do with this romance.

In this story, we learn that recently a member of the fae has been able to travel through a Veil and is now living in Montana, for his protection. The sudden event was feared by many people even though the envoy, now called Oberon, claimed he came in peace, with the intention of studying human music and send his studies back through the Veil.
Angél Cruz is a musician who comes from a complicated family. When a Ponzi scheme is found to have affected some of the money the fae envoy funded for some projects, the clues lead to Angel's father. The envoy suggested his musician son to come to live in the safe house, so he could teach him about music and also be his companion for a few years, for the envoy is extremely lonely, not having other fae around, and most humans being afraid of him.
Angel ends up accepting but he is fearful as everyone else, at first. The more he and Oberon talk about music, the deeper their bond...but is there any hope for them to become more than friends?

This story was an interesting mix of fantasy and romance. I don't think it fully worked out for me in terms of pace here and there, and the end was rushed, but as a whole, it was entertaining and the specific elements related to the fae the author imagined made the reading compelling enough. I also liked the constant musical references, both of musical instruments and of many genres.

The premise is simple, Oberon wants someone to keep him company and Angel's family made it easier, but is seems apparent from the start Oberon doesn't have any hidden agenda on this. I will admit I thought the twist might be related to that and there were situations throughout the story that sometimes made me doubt what was happening. I can't tell if this intentional, honestly, because perhaps it was just the way I interpreted all those thoughts and actions by Angel, but then he would react in a different way from what he was saying?

I say this because the story is narrated in third person but we only know Angel's POV, and of course this can be limited, as I keep repeating over and over, when it comes to romances. I can speculate the idea was to keep Oberon as someone hard to read and more ethereal on purpose, so that we could find out things at the same time as Angel, but sometimes this went too far and what felt like was that Oberon was too distant and I don't think I really felt an emotional connection with him.

The fae elements were interesting enough because unlike most common stories with them, the fae here don't seem to be aggressive nor fully manipulative. The hint is there, and that plays as part of the antagonism Oberon faced and faces still, but it seems he really wanted to learn about music and even hoped other fae might come to study other areas of human culture/knowledge. Oberon volunteered to come and apparently cannot go back. If it was mentioned why not, I might have missed it, but this means we only have a minimum of information on the fae. The elements we do have are specific enough to make them intriguing, but I think the author could have done this better.

The most important thing about the fae is that they live in communities, bond easily through touch and feelings, and Oberon found out humans are the exact opposite and don't touch each other as freely. The way the fae are, they need this, even from a biological need, and Oberon sometimes seems quite fragile, which is a nice match to Angel, who obviously can explain humans to him, even though he, too, has some emotional fragility. I think their slow burn romance was good enough, but not fully romantic to me, because there was a constant misinterpretation of each other's words/intentions and of course Angel fought his feelings and saw them as lust and this was psychologically complicated for him.

Once the romance is kind of stable and things seem to go into a happy path, of course a third act conflict happens, there is a sudden physical separation not initiated by either of them, but this brings doubts about their feelings and each one thinks the other might be changing their mind. I mean, this was...well, to me, it was unnecessary. I think the author could have implemented this conflict anyway, but in a way that would not drag again what had seemingly been discussed before. then things felt rather rushed until the last page.

Other things happen, other situations that affect the protagonists' choices and feelings, but I think most things were valid possibilities to the scenarios presented... but then, this final act was a little... ehh. Nevertheless, there's a HEA for them. Perhaps the rushed end means there wasn't enough closure on other elements and I've finished wondering "what would be next" for them, and not in that cute sense we tend to give to that expression. Anyway, this was an interesting read, fit the box of what would expected, but I think some details could have been better.
Grade: 7/10

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