The Magpie Lord
Title : The Magpie Lord
Series : A Charm of Magpies, Book #1
Author : KJ Charles
Publisher : Samhain (BUY IT HERE)
Genre : M/M, Historical, Paranormal
Length : 200 pages
Published : September 3, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
B L U R B :
A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.
A Charm of Magpies, Book 1
Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry.
Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude…and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual.
Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die.
Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing
R E V I E W :
Lucien Vaudrey keeps trying to kill himself. It’s not something he’s actually interested in doing, but he simply feels so despondent. His faithful manservant Merrick recommends they get a shaman to help figure out what is going on. Stephen Day isn’t called a shaman, but he’s skilled in magic nonetheless. He also has incredibly valid reasons to absolutely hate Lucien Vaudrey and his whole family. The very last thing he wants to do is help the new Lord Crane, but his job requires that he does. He also soon comes to the conclusion that despite being a Vaudrey, Lucien is nothing like his father and brother. Being exiled to China for twenty years and living as a tradesman will do that. Thankfully, Mr. Day is able to quickly diagnose and begin the early stages of solving the problem. Mr. Day saves Lord Crane’s life. He hasn’t, however, solved the problem of who wants to kill him. Given that Lucien’s father and brother both committed suicide it’s not just attempted murder they’re dealing with. As a justiciar of practitioners, it is his job to not only solve the problem, but bring the offenders to justice. On top of that, Stephen simply doesn’t hate Lucien. It’s obvious the man isn’t cut from the same cloth as the other Vaudreys. He can’t stand by and let someone kill him in such a horrible manner. It is determined the original crime took place in the Vaudrey ancestral home, Piper. Things are not well at Piper. The home has no etheric flow and is dreadfully cold despite the fact it’s spring. It’s also filled with magpie artwork. Stephen can see in the gallery of family portraits that every family member has surrounded themselves with, or somehow added magpies into their life. Stephen also learns the first Earl of Crane was a practitioner. A rather powerful one who codified the laws regarding practitioners into their modern incarnation. He was referred to as the Magpie Lord.
Something is very much wrong with the situation at Piper and it’s not just the fact the staff truly hate the current Earl of Crane. It doesn’t help both Lucien and Stephen are working to uncover a killer and also realizing they’re finding each other very attractive. Attractive and interesting. The housekeeper tells Lucien some of the staff have seen the ghost of his late brother Hector. Hector was a horrible man. The staff is in fact seeing some kind of apparition that is most likely the spiritual remains of Hector. After the incidence with Hector’s ghost Lucien lets Stephen know he’s interested in him sexually. Stephen thinks it would be a bad idea and uses fluence to dissuade Lucien’s interest. Rightfully so, Lucien is pissed that Stephen has messed with his mind. Their confrontation does not end on an emotional high note but there is more than a hint of promise. Lucien also has cause to believe his neighbor, Mrs. Thwaite has been using fluence on him as well. Stephen and Lucien determine they will use an invitation to Mrs. Thwaite’s home to figure out what is going on with her. In the small village of Nethercote they learn who originally placed the Judas Jack, the spell that killed Lucien’s father and brother. They also learn that person couldn’t have done it all themselves. Too many things are going on around Lucien, his family, and Piper for it all to be a series of coincidences. Another attempted murder in what should be the safety of Piper cements the fact they’re dealing with some kind of conspiracy. The next day Lucien and Stephen find themselves trapped at Piper when the conspirators make their final move.
So much happens in this book! There was even some witch smelling, but it was by a Justiciar not a Pursuivant. I can guarantee this is a very bare bones synopsis. Not only did the world building involve the time and place but the magic in the story. Whereas I do feel this was done remarkably well, there is still a lot of information to be learned over the course of the book. Thankfully, I didn’t ever have the feeling we were subjected to an “info dump.” With Lucien being unfamiliar with the life of a practitioner, we learned as he learned. I have said numerous times over the years that I am a sucker for a well built world, but many times the first book in a series suffers for the sake of the others.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the hero of the book not being the Alpha male. Big brawny Lucien Vaudrey was rescued repeatedly by a poor, scrawny man whose family was destroyed by Lucien’s father. I could argue with myself and state they rescued each other romantically, but the hero of the tale was the underfed man who was not someone that would get described as dashing. Stephen was angry and wanted to be spiteful and cruel. His inherent goodness won out when he was faced with a man dealing with his worst fears. Stephen saw in Lucien a man who was just as traumatized by Hector and his father as Stephen was. This is not to say Lucien was in any way less than capable of taking care of himself in a non-magical way. Lucien is certainly a very powerful man, he was simply dealing with things far beyond his control and skill set. Throw in what was a well written sexual dynamic between the two men and Stephen being the hero was even more fascinating. All in all, it made for a very good read.
Rated 4.5 stars by Faye