Reviewed by Chris
SERIES: Hexworld #3
AUTHOR: Jordan L. Hawk
LENGTH: 344 pages
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2017
Horse shifter Nick has one rule: never trust a witch.
Nick has devoted his life to making his saloon a safe haven for the feral familiars of New York. So when a brutal killer slaughters a feral under his protection, Nick has no choice but to try and catch the murderer. Even if that means bonding with a handsome Irish witch.
Officer Jamie MacDougal came back from the war in Cuba missing part of a leg and most of his heart. After his former lover becomes one of the killer’s victims, Jamie will do anything to solve the case.
Nick comes to Jamie with a proposal: after making a temporary bond, they will work together to stop the murders. Once the killer is caught, they walk away and never see one another again.
It sounds simple enough. But the passion that flares between the two men won’t be so easily extinguished. And if Nick can’t learn to trust his witch, he stands to lose everything—including his life.
If there is one thing that has been perfectly clear over the last few books, it is that Nick, horse familiar and brother to Rook, is not a fan of witches. He doesn’t want to talk to witches, work with witches, or be in the same room with one. He sure as hell doesn’t want to become some witch’s familiar. Which is all fine and dandy…except some crazy person is killing feral familiars in Central Park and the only way the damn crimes are going to be investigated is if Nick bonds with Jamie MacDougal, a witch in the MWP. And it might be his idea, and it might only last for the course of the investigation, but it doesn’t make Nick any happier. He just knows that he can’t stand by and watch familiars get killed–and the police completely ignore it–if he wants to be able to look himself in the mirror ever again.
So he gets Jamie to agree to a temporary bond. Despite his better judgement. Despite his distrust of witches. And most definitely despite the inconvenient fact that Jamie is Nick’s witch. As in, he is nearly damn perfect for Nick in almost every way. Except for the whole witch part. Which means that Jamie is the one witch Nick must absolutely not fall for.
I was really excited when I realized that this book was going to be Nick’s story. He has played small parts in the last several Hexworld books, and I must admit that I’ve been more than ready to see Nick fall on his horsey ass over some witch. I figured it was going to be damn fun to see the familiar fight tooth and hoof against his attraction to his witch, only to end up realizing that he might not have all the answers in the world when it comes to those of the witchy persuasion.
And I was right about that, because this book was just about everything I wanted out of it.
I quite adore this series, with its wonderful blend of history and magic. Once again we are in early 20th century New York, amidst a growing discontent between the non-magical parts of the populous and the witches and familiars that keep the magic coming. After the events of last book I was pretty sure that things were not going to be going well for familiars in this story. And they really aren’t. Laws are now tightening on what unbound familiars can do, and the Dangerous Familiars Squad is cracking down on any familiar deemed too aggressive to be free amongst the general populous. Needless to say, Nick is not a fan.
Which, in the Rules of Romance, probably almost guaranteed that Jamie was the one who makes Nick go against all his tightly held beliefs. Not only is Jamie a member of the MWP–which would earn Nick’s ire all on its own–but Jamie’s uncle is one of the lead officers on the DFS. Watching them clash over this, and their different beliefs on how familiars and witches should behave, was a lot of fun. And I really liked that I kinda got both sides on this. I mostly agree with Nick, to be honest, but I can see how Jamie, who was raised by his uncle to respect authority and follow rule and order, can see the laws and their enforcement as the correct way to go about things. Both Nick and Jamie have to learn to reevaluate their beliefs, and it might not be easy, but it does make for good reading.
While I might have spent the majority of the book thinking Nick was a bit of a horse’s arse, he was also written sympathetically enough that I cared about him. Despite my desire to remove the three foot plank form his ass and use it to beat some civility into him. And I really love Jamie and the way he has to continually fight everyone around him to see that just because he lost part of his leg in the war, that doesn’t make him useless or in need of constant pity. Nick’s easy acceptance of Jamie’s disability and the way he viewed Jamie as an annoying witch–and not as the “broken” witch–did a lot to endear him to me.
On the whole this is a damn good book. I’ve yet to come across a story in this series that I would not happily reread, and I can’t wait to get more. The only slight issue I have with this story is that I kinda figured out who the killer was early on, but there were plenty of unseen twists to make up for that in the end. I’ve highly recommended every book in this series so far, and I’m not about to stop now. Pick this one up as soon as possible.