Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
My rating reflects the fact that I enjoyed the hell out of this book. Almost immediately.
Lord Crane is the titular character, a despised second son who inherited his earldom after the death of both his father and older brother. He is tall, handsome, well dressed, never a hair out of place and has an incredibly colorful and varied background. He is also funny and an all around decent guy. I really dug Crane and want to hear more about his various adventures when he lived in enforced exile before coming back to claim his inheritance.
Stephen, the other major protagonist, is not quite so blindingly awesome (or as tall) as Crane. And yet he manages to create as much of a vivid, memorable impression as Crane. Poor, from a family disgraced by scandal, Stephen is a mage who is called upon to help Crane escape a death curse. He is acerbic and biting and honorable as all heck.
While Crane's character is immediately engaging, Stephen's character is a lot more stealthy. And in the end, when I closed the book, he actually felt more dynamic than Crane. The Stephen we met at the end was not the same Stephen we met in the beginning. I liked how the author peeled his layers away.
The plot was all kinds of fun. There is a magic system in place that governs who practices and how it is administered and controlled. Also how it works. Poor Crane is laboring under a death curse and the ways the author allows it to manifest are inventive and creepy. Even the descriptions of Crane's home and the surroundings and the people all play into the dark, macabre, creepy elements of the magic swirling around Crane.
And yet, the book does not feel that dark at all. The dialogue is great and Crane has such a smart wit and Stephen has a such a dark humor that you find yourself gliding through the pages. The relationship between Crane and his Man-of-All-trades, Merrick is all that that sort of relationship should be. And the relationship that builds between Crane and Stephen is also well conceived and great to experience.
I take half a star off, though, because I was not convinced of the romantic connection between Crane and Stephen. They felt more bromantic than romantic. It almost felt like simply dotting an 'i' or crossing a 't' to have them consummate a sexual relationship that I wasn't completely feeling. In the end they are together and you know they are embarking on a relationship that has some significance given that it also ties into some powerful magic. But yeah, just wasn't feeling them as a couple.
I do plan to continue the series because it was sooo good and I want to hang out with them some more. Maybe the romantic chemistry that I am missing will manifest then.