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Marion Zimmer Bradley
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Paula Coots
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Jerome K. Jerome
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The Magpie Lord - K.J. Charles Four and almost a half stars, rounded up because a) the price is very right at under $4 and b) it did me a huge favor (see below).

This book was a very pleasant surprise. I’ve gotten to the point where, when I am reading a Historical (especially a Victorian era one), I am expecting lots of angst, internalized homophobia, stultifying social interactions, cardboard villains in the form of blackmailing ex-lovers or family members and very… sedate…. pacing….. I was ecstatic to be proven wrong in this case.

I picked this up in the middle of an 11 hour plane ride after flitting from book to book on my kindle for a couple of hours with nothing that was grabbing me enough to distract me from the screaming autistic kid in the row behind me. This was the book that did it. Unfortunately it took me less than 4 hours to finish it and I still had some hours to go on the plane by the time it was done, but I can tell you these hours were the highlight of that particular trip. The story is funny and engaging. I did not solve the mystery 5 chapters before the MCs did. Both MCs were three dimensional characters and likeable without being perfect or bland. And unexpected things happened, which is kind of a given, this being a Paranormal Romance and all. I have to say that besides a few vampire and shifter stories I haven’t read a whole lot of Paranormal stuff (unless you count a couple hundred Merlin fanfics), and I don’t feel qualified to say whether this book went beyond Paranormal clichés or not, but it felt pretty fresh to me. And most of the things I thought I saw coming, didn’t.

The romance takes a bit of a backseat to the mystery, but there is plenty of it to satisfy most romance junkies. Only those who skim everything that isn’t directly contributing to getting the MCs in bed (or on a desk, in this case) or who like to wallow in all the feelz may think it’s skimpy. Personally, I was intrigued by the journey of how Crane went from thinking of Stephen as an emaciated ginger dwarf to wanting him. There were several different types of power balance played out between the two guys, and the way they balance out in the end is well done without feeling overly simplistic.

Both men have a past that is less than happy and that affects their actions. While these past events get exposed and explored, there is a refreshing lack of wailing and manly tears in the process. Not that there is time for that between all the supernatural murder attempts and other manifestations, really. This is one fast-paced Historical, I am happy to say. The only places where it drags a little is when Stephen gets overly explainy about different types of magic users, but as far as info dumps go it’s got nothing on your average Fantasy doorstop.

Overall, this book was highly entertaining and I am looking forward to book 2. Can’t wait to see how Stephen and Crane are going to manage back in London. Apparently there will be giant rats. Sounds awesome.