by Allie Therin
Series: Magic in Manhattan #2
Also in this series: Spellbound, Wonderstruck
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 18, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
When everything they’ve built is threatened, only their bond remains…
1925 New York
Psychometric Rory Brodigan’s life hasn’t been the same since the day he met Arthur Kenzie. Arthur’s continued quest to contain supernatural relics that pose a threat to the world has captured Rory’s imagination—and his heart. But Arthur’s upper-class upbringing still leaves Rory worried that he’ll never measure up, especially when Arthur’s aristocratic ex arrives in New York.
For Arthur, there’s only Rory. But keeping the man he’s fallen for safe is another matter altogether. When a group of ruthless paranormals throw the city into chaos, the two men’s strained relationship leaves Rory vulnerable to a monster from Arthur’s past.
With dark forces determined to tear them apart, Rory and Arthur will have to draw on every last bit of magic up their sleeves. And in the end, it’s the connection they’ve formed without magic that will be tested like never before.
I’m a sucker for sunshine/grumpy pairings, and Rory and Arthur completely stole my heart in Spellbound. So it’s no surprise that I jumped on this book the second I saw the ARC was available. The story picks up not long after the events of the last book, so I would definitely not recommend reading this as a standalone. I reread Spellbound immediately before this book, so I had all the characters and plot points fresh in my mind, which was good because there’s very little recap.
“Rory glanced up, eyes big behind his glasses, lower lip caught in his teeth. “I’m not saying you don’t have a reason to kill me, but if you’re gonna do it, can I kiss you before I die?”
“You utter shit,” Arthur said, even as he pulled Rory up for a kiss.”
After the events on Coney Island, Rory and Arthur are “vacationing” at Arthur’s brother’s house in the countryside. Arthur is stuck playing rich bachelor while Rory secretly appraises antiques and not-so-secretly befriends the staff and children, while back in New York, Jade and Zhang are still trying to track down Baron Zeppler’s operatives and any other loose relics. It’s not going so well, even when they return, as the pair are stifled by their differences in class, not to mention Arthur being pulled away to chauffeur an aristocratic wedding guest around NY – a guest who just happens to be Arthur’s ex. Arthur’s past and his hopes for a future with Rory are about to collide, and both of them may not survive it.
“I don’t wanna hurt anyone.”
“Your magic wouldn’t hurt me,” Arthur insisted.
“We don’t know that,” Rory said tightly.”
Rory’s desperately trying to understand his magic, but the addition of the tempest ring is causing more problems than expected. Strong negative feelings seem to activate it without Rory’s intent, such as, oh, anything to do with Arthur’s ex. Rory is still struggling to accept that Arthur loves prickly, poor him, though he knows he loves Arthur unconditionally. Rory is very used to relying on himself – it’s a result of his upbringing, and it’s a show of trust when he finally starts opening up to Arthur about more bits and pieces of his childhood. Arthur just wants to take care of everybody, literally freaking everybody but especially Rory, and is frustrated that Rory won’t let him. In his mind, the only thing Arthur has to offer Rory is his money, and watching him walk around with a threadbare hat and coat is excruciating. A large part of the book is figuring out how to make things work between Arthur, who’s expected to keep up appearances for the political aspirations of his well-heeled family, and Rory, the bastard half-Italian from Hell’s Kitchen. Arthur chafes at the restrictions placed on him, especially that his friends are free to go investigate while he’s stuck attending parties. Irregardless of their problems, Rory and Arthur are just so sweet together. They’re deeply invested in protecting each other, even at the risk of harm to themselves, and by the end of the book, there’s no doubt that they deeply love each other. How, exactly, that’s going to work is another question entirely.
The setting of Prohibition New York City is still fresh and interesting and is utterly immersive. While I’m not usually a fan of plots involving exes, the plot with Lord Fine avoided the pitfalls I usually associate with it and added more dimension to Rory and Arthur’s relationship. The plot for the most part is suspenseful and enthralling, though the pacing bogged down in the middle, with lots of soul-searching on where, exactly, Arthur and Rory’s relationship was going. The ending was an absolute firecracker, however, and left me very much wishing the next book was coming out sooner than 2021. More information and more players are coming to light, and it puts into question exactly who the bad guys are and what their motivations are.
Overall, I enjoyed this second book just as much as the first, and I can’t wait for the next book and more interactions between Rory the grumpy hedgehog in a newsboy cap and cinnamon roll Arthur!