Review: Once a Rogue (Roaring Twenties Magic, #2) by Allie Therin
Two reformed scoundrels have renounced the battlefields and scandals for one another, but their troubled pasts could destroy everything they hold dear…
New York, 1925
Cranky and jaded Lord Fine—Wesley, now, to the kindhearted lover he cynically doubts life will let him keep—arrives in Manhattan with one goal: find the American paranormals and get their help with the relic burdening Sebastian. His plans are upended when the other paranormals seem to have vanished, and a mysterious letter warns Wesley that he’s in danger.
Sebastian has no doubts when it comes to his feelings for Wesley, but he’s still haunted by the time he spent enthralled by blood magic right here in New York. And now, his magic is unstable, bolstered by a relic that seems to drain energy from his very blood. But there is a threat to Wesley, and Sebastian needs control of his magic to protect him—even if former Great War captain Wesley wants Sebastian to rely on him for a change.
Chasing a trail that leads from Fifth Avenue’s bootleggers to a Halloween masquerade at a Tarrytown mansion, they must race to find their friends before devastation is unleashed on New York—and on magic everywhere.
Dear Allie Therin,
I decided that Wes and Sebastian, as a couple, work for me even better than Arthur and Rory (Magic in Manhattan). Wesley who denies having feelings after the war, or more like pretending than he does not, having to abandon all pretense with Sebastian because he just wants to make Sebastian happy. Finding a home for another homeless kitten or making sure Sebastian does not have another blood terror at night, Wes is good for all of this :).
I am smiling when I am writing this, but I really do think that these two men have lovely chemistry. There is some hurt comfort here considering what Sebastian went through, but Wesley went through enough in his past and Sebastian always finding ways to explain to Wes how Wes does everything perfectly just worked for me.
I did not find their interactions so sweet that it hurt my teeth, but it was just sweet enough to make me very happy. I enjoyed the sex scenes too which does not happen all too often.
But as much as I enjoyed the romance, I cannot give the book a perfect grade. I said this often enough in the past, I prefer a romance couple to be doing something else besides building their relationship in the course of the book. That is why science fiction and fantasy and mystery and historical sub genres of romance work so much better for me than just a contemporary romance alone (although contemporary romances that I liked certainly exist).
I give the author a thumbs up from this reader for keeping Wesley and Sebastian very occupied this book. In fact, I would argue that the suspense and tension was maintained well throughout the story. The main issue they are dealing with (besides the relic that Sebastian still has in his possession) is the disappearance of Arthur and Rory and Jade and Zhang. It was tense and because Wes and Sebastian were the main characters of this book, I was sure they wouldn’t die, but I certainly could not be sure about other four (who knows maybe the author decided they played out their roles and could be disposed of :)).
My issue in this story and to a degree in all the previous books is the setting specifically as it relates to magical system. I can see this New York as the New York of the 1920s, but this is supposed to be a New York with magic and the magic in these books baffles me.
Relics (unless the author is keeping a huge chunk of information close to her chest still but since this is book five in the overall series maybe that’s not the best idea either?) are either evil or hard to control. Magic overall seems to cause ALL main characters all kinds of issues, often deadly. Magic hurts you, can control you, enslave you. I just don’t see how the magic in this world helps anyone that we know. I guess Zhang has teleportation magic that is independent of relics and that is actually benign, but does anyone else actually *like* magic in these books without wanting to use it as a means to control another person of the world or hates magic so much that they want to eradicate the magic users? I know that we are supposed to think by the end of the book that Sebastian does like his magic, but I was not very convinced.
I want to stress that I am not trying to imagine a different story. I am just not enjoying the magic system as it appears to exist in these books. Of course the best magic worlds I have read about have rules and limitations or magic extorting a price for the use of it, even a benign one, but with this world it appears that the message is, everybody will be much better without magic and if so, it is the author’s prerogative. I just don’t like such a message.