ARC Review – A Market of Dreams and Destiny

Hello, everyone! Today I’m starting the week off with a review of A Market of Dreams and Destiny by Trip Galey. I stumbled across this one on NetGalley and fell in love with the cover. So, of course, I had to request it. 🙂

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First Lines Fridays (79) – September 8, 2023

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!
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Series Review – Magic in Manhattan

Hello, everyone! Today I’m doing something a bit different. Usually, I review books individually, but I just finished this series, Magic in Manhattan, and wanted to gush about it. It is a trilogy of MM romantic fantasy stories set during prohibition in New York. I picked them up on a whim and never planned to review them or feature them in any special way on the blog, but here we are…

Series Info

As this is a trilogy, there are three books in the Magic in Manhattan series. Although, a spin-off series is also currently ongoing, which I’ll be reading soon. Basic info for each book can be found below, and the covers link to the book’s Goodreads page.

Spellbound by Allie Therin
Print Length: 275 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical, LGBT
Publication Date: July 29, 2019
Goodreads Average/My Rating: 4.04⭐ / 4⭐

📚Book Synopsis📚

To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…

New York, 1925

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.

Starcrossed by Allie Therin
Print Length: 307 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical, LGBT
Publication Date: May 18, 2020
Goodreads Average/My Rating: 4.22⭐ / 5⭐

📚Book Synopsis📚

When everything they’ve built is threatened, only their bond remains…

New York, 1925

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.

Wonderstruck by Allie Therin
Print Length: 295 pages
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Historical, LGBT
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Goodreads Average/My Rating: 4.25⭐ / 4.5⭐

📚Book Synopsis📚

New York, 1925

Arthur Kenzie is on a mission: to destroy the powerful supernatural relic that threatens Manhattan—and all the nonmagical minds in the world. So far his search has been fruitless. All it has done is keep him from the man he loves. But he’ll do anything to keep Rory safe and free, even if that means leaving him behind.

Psychometric Rory Brodigan knows his uncontrolled magic is a liability, but he’s determined to gain power over it. He can take care of himself—and maybe even Arthur, too, if Arthur will let him. An auction at the Paris world’s fair offers the perfect opportunity to destroy the relic, if a group of power-hungry supernaturals don’t destroy Rory and Arthur first.

As the magical world converges on Paris, Arthur and Rory have to decide who they can trust. Guessing wrong could spell destruction for their bond—and for the world as they know it.

My Review

Magic in Manhattan honestly surprised me. I don’t remember where I first saw the books, but I thought the synopsis sounded cool. I’m also always down for a historical MM romance, and the fantasy element made me want to read it even more. So, I was delighted to see that my library had all three books on audio. I’m so glad I decided to check them out.

Now let’s talk about all the things I loved about Magic in Manhattan… First things first, the setting was great. It was one of the things that attracted me to the book in the first place. The characters and places felt very 1920’s New York to me, but keep in mind I’m no expert on the time period. lol. I enjoyed the inclusion of the speakeasy, and I actually wish the author had amped up the prohibition-defying antics a bit more. I had no problem visualizing the characters as they traipsed around the city, and I found myself wanting to be there with them.

The magic in Magic in Manhattan was also really great. It wasn’t too complicated, and I loved the inclusion of the relics that amplified certain powers. The relics also gave the characters something to hunt, which helped keep the plot moving forward at a good pace and gave the characters something interesting to do. I liked that each paranormal had different powers because it was possible to mix and match the abilities to come up with some cool plans and maneuvers. The best thing about the magic, though, was that it centered psychometry, which is one of my favorite abilities. One of the main characters possessed it, which allowed the author to use it for so many fascinating things.

Magic in Manhattan had some wonderful characters with plenty of depth and sparkling personalities. I quickly fell in love with the two leads, Rory and Arthur. Rory was the poor son of an immigrant, and he had been through some really traumatic stuff, including institutionalization, because of his magic. He was a worrier and always wanted to be self-sufficient so that he could survive when things ultimately fell apart. Arthur, on the other hand, was the wealthy son of a congressman, and he had his own baggage from his time serving in the Great War, which gave him an inclination to want to protect everyone and keep them safe.

One of the major strengths of Magic in Manhattan, though, was the excellent cast of secondary characters. They all had depth, and even some of the villains ended up surprising me with their complexity. I enjoyed the found family feeling of Rory and Arthur’s tight knit group, and the story had such a special and unique energy when they were all together in a scene.

I’d be remiss to end this review of Magic in Manhattan without discussing the central relationship between Rory and Arthur. Arthur just wanted to give Rory the world, but Rory wouldn’t let him because of trust issues rooted in his past traumas. I loved the two of them together, and it was so endearing to watch them overcome their baggage and build a relationship where they both relied on each other. Rory had to learn to trust he wouldn’t be abandoned, and Arthur had to open up and allow for the possibility that maybe he needs to be saved every now and then, too. They helped each other grow SO MUCH.

All in all, I loved Magic in Manhattan because of its awesome characters, the fascinating magic, the cool setting, and the growth facilitated by the central relationship. The magical relics plot was interesting, as well, but I did care less about it than all the other elements. The ending of that relic hunt also felt a bit like a cop out because the characters never actually did what they set out to do. They just gained the ability to do it. That didn’t overshadow all the things I love about the series, though, since everything else did feel concluded by the end.

In case you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend the Magic in Manhattan series. Have you read it? If so, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Book Review – Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love by Rita Rubin. I stumbled upon this one while doom-scrolling one day on Twitter and thought it looked cute. I’ve been in the mood for something cozy and adorable since I haven’t been feeling well recently, and Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love seemed like the perfect book to help me feel better.

Jayce has little memory of life before entering servitude to the Dark Lord, and no hope of ever escaping. Until he meets Alexius, the knight with a heart of gold. He offers Jayce, his enemy, a chance to break free of the Dark Lord’s clutches, and Jayce is not about to let such an opportunity pass.

When the war comes to an end, Jayce finds himself finally free, with Alexius’s help, and surrounded by a new world of opportunity. And the prospect of a new love. The more time Jayce spends with Alexius, the more he finds himself falling for this knight in shining armour.

When picking up Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love, I wanted something cozy, slice of life, adorable, and romantic. This book ended up ticking off all of those boxes and provided a bit of action and adventure, too. I loved the queer-normative world, and while the world-building was pretty basic, it was the perfect amount to let the reader understand the setting while the focus remained on the characters and relationships.

The characters were my favorite thing about Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love. The story follows Jayce after he is freed from the control of the Dark Lord. Up to that point, he had been the Dark Lord’s faithful apprentice and did terrible things, all while being controlled via a magical necklace that kept him enslaved to the Dark Lord’s will. Alexius, a noble knight trapped in the dungeons, gave Jayce the information needed to remove the necklace, and Jayce helped him escape the dungeons. I enjoyed reading Jayce’s journey of coming to terms with his guilt while also trying to understand who he wanted to become now that he was free.

The relationship between Jayce and Alexius was really adorable. They were both pining so much but never realized the other felt the same way. I loved all of the small moments between the two of them where they were just getting to know one another. Alexius was the sunshine to Jayce’s rain cloud. lol. They made such a great pairing, and their relationship was just so soft and safe.

You may be wondering how books factor into all this enough to warrant a mention in the title. Jayce loved books and ended up working at the most adorable bookshop. The shop even housed a temperamental cat and was owned by a troll, who was very particular about the care of their books. There’s plenty of other great things to be found in the pages of Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love, too. From bandits to tournaments, there’s plenty of fantasy elements to keep things interesting, but those set pieces never overpower the central story of redemption and the life-altering nature of love.

Overall, this was an adorable MM romance set in a fantasy realm. It was largely focused on the characters and their relationship, and its focus on their day to day lives was exactly what I was looking for. I actually wouldn’t have been mad at even more delightful mundanity, but I also appreciated the brevity of the work because it kept the plot from getting too bogged down. Therefore, I rate Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love 4 out of 5 stars and definitely recommend it if you are looking for a quick, cozy MM fantasy romance.

Have you read Of Knights and Books and Falling in Love? Let me know what you thought down in the comments!