Allie Therin

Books: Fantasy | LGBT

Magic in Manhattan: Spellbound (2019), Starcrossed (2020), Wonderstruck (2021)

Roaring Twenties Magic: Proper Scoundrels (2021), Once a Rogue (2023)

Sugar & Vice: Liar City (2023)

Magic in Manhattan

Spellbound (2019)

SpellboundSet in New York in 1924.

Rory Brodigan works for a woman he calls his aunt, helping assess the authenticity of antiques. But there is no science–only magic–behind his abilities.

Arthur Kenzie needs someone who can read the history of objects, and he thinks Mrs Brodigan is the woman who can help him. She he brings her a test–to find out if she's what he hopes–because he and his friends need someone who can read the history of objects to help them in dealing with unsavory characters.

There is a LOT to like here. Arthur is a veteran of The Great War, and despite coming from wealth and privilege, defends his friends and family with everything.

"Quality gin doesn't run itself from Toronto."

Arthur scoffed. "Fifth Avenue deserves rotgut. Half those arseholes call for segregation during the day then have the nerve to slither into Harlem for culture at night. Be nice to bounce those hypocrites straight out of your speakeasy and onto the street."

"Except they'd return with the police," she pointed out, "because we're in America, where the law lets your people street my people, never the other way around."

This story is set in a very interesting time period–the roaring twenties, that era between the horrors of The Great War and the Great Depression.

"You wound me," said Arthur, as a waiter approached. "I am the very model of a law-abiding citizen."

The waiter set the drink down with a flourish. "Your gin rickey, sir."

The sisters exchanged smirks.

"Oh, shut up," said Arthur. "Half this country's laws are travesties and Prohibition's not even the worst.

There were some weak parts here–the language was off. But that might be particularly obvious to me because I've been reading Agatha Christie, and the language just felt a little off and a little to modern (especially for a character who spent a great deal of time in Europe). But I like the historical parts. Not just the prohibition, but the fact that racism was against not just Blacks, but also Italians and other immigrants.

And it's nice to have good people–a good antidote to the current world.

"Some people see suffering that isn't their own and still try to help, for no other reason than it's the right thing to do."

Another thing I thought interesting was the description not just of Rory's powers, but his reactions to them. I can see how it would be easy to completely lose oneself in the history of an object.

As a bonus, all the boinking was fade to black!

Twas good! I liked it! I've got the next lined up to read!

Publisher: Carina Press

May 2020 | Rating: 8/10

Starcrossed (2020)

StarcrossedSet in New York in 1925.

This is set immediately after the events of the first book. Rory and Arthur are in Hyde Park where Rory is helping to authenticate some of Arthur's brother's supposedly antique compasses, and Arthur is visiting his family.

"Speaking of children," Arthur said dryly. "Yours are as well-mannered as ever."

Harry only smiled, unperturbed. "I moved to the country so they could run free as wild horses." Mrs. Brodigan put a hand over her heart, looked thoroughly charmed.

"How lovely."

"Lovely rubbish," said Arthur. "Don't listen to a word. He's a soft touch, yes, but he also has more children than limbs. This is the cowardly surrender of a zookeeper overrun by the monkeys."

I really like Arthur.

(F)inishing school in London just makes you interesting."

Arthur sighed into his drink. "I want to be the boring one. If I'm the most interesting person in the conversation, then I've chosen the wrong company."

In this story, Rory is trying to deal with his connection to a relic, and a new relic appears, and amidst all that Rory and Arthur are trying to work out their relationship.

It's particularly interesting, that is issue of class is almost as much of a hurdle as the issue of sexuality. Arthur was in the war and has friends from the "lower classes" because of that, but there is no real sense of equality yet, where rumors wouldn't start if Arthur spent too much time in Rory's company. As Lord Fine points out–no one would think much of two confirmed wealthy bachelors traveling and spending time together, but everyone would notice and comment about Arthur spending so much time with Rory.

And I remain delighted that the boinking is fade-to-black.

It's another good story, and I can't wait for the third book.

Publisher: Carina Press

May 2020 | Rating: 8/10

Wonderstruck (2021)

WonderstruckSet in New York and other locales in 1925

Arthur and Rory are searching for a way to destroy the magical artifact that could be used to enslave non-magical minds, not just because it is evil, but because an evil man is searching to control it himself. But although Arthur has no magic himself, Rory is the one in danger, as that same man wants Rory's powers for himself.

Both Arthur and Rory still have issues with trust, although for different reasons.

Arthur's hands were very tight around the steering wheel as he drove them farther north. "But you still have a maintenance key to my flat."

"Well, yeah. I'd never lose that." Rory heard Arthur take another breath through his nose. "So where are we going?"

"Harlem," said Arthur, eyes fixed forward, his expression now shuttered in a way that made Rory feel like somehow he'd hurt Arthur deeply.

Most of the issue between Arthur and Rory is that they come from different worlds: Arthur comes from a wealthy family and has been given every advantage. Rory is the bastard child of an Italian immigrant who was put in an institution as a teenager and almost lobotomized because of his magical gifts.

Another problem is that Arthur is used to having things his way, and don't initially realize the kind of power that gives him over Rory.

It's not all dark, however.

"Do you know how to play?" When Rory shook his head, Lord Fine said, "Then I'll show you." He leaned forward. "With the caveat that it is impossible to teach anyone to play billiards without getting rather handsy."

"Oh, you don't gotta worry about that," Rory said. "Ace reminded me today that he doesn't ever get jealous."

Arthur opened his mouth, then closed it.

It was a fun story and I enjoyed it, although the modern language did get to be occasionally.

Publisher: Carina Press

February 2021 | Rating: 8/10

Roaring Twenties Magic

Proper Scoundrels (2021)

Proper ScoundrelsSet in England in 1925.

Me: I really liked this first series that this book is a spin-off of. Obviously I should not read it.

(Repeat time and again for author after author)

Sebastian de Leon spent the past three years enthralled, and forced to do terrible things against his will. He is now in London trying to live quietly and make up in some way for the things he was forced to do, in whatever manner he can.

Maybe he couldn't ever fully atone for the things he'd done to Arthur Kenzie and Rory Brodigan, but he could at least make sure that Arthur's aristocratic friend wasn't in any danger after Arthur and Rory had stayed in the Kensington house in the spring.

Then he receives a letter from Jade Robbins.

June 18, 1925, Meurtre non résolu à Paris.
July 29, 1925, Mord ohne Erklärung.
September 2, 1925, Body found, police stumped.

Wesley, Lord Fine, fought in the war and has his own memories he'd prefer not to have.

"You're his spitting image, you know."

Wesley's brother had been too, all three of them over six feet tall with the same brown hair and gray eyes. Now only Wesley was left, and he couldn't set foot in society without people who'd sat out the war in the comfort of their homes wanting him to know how sorry they were for his losses.

So he's brusque and cranky and generally an arse to everyone.

Wesley was going to end up with a headache. "Ned," he snapped at his footman. "Bring me a cigarette."

"I'm afraid I can't, sir," said Ned. "You're trying to quit."

"Don't nag me," said Wesley. "Do as I say."

"Sir, you specifically told me that if you requested smokes, I was not to acquiesce— those were your words. You said you'd read the latest medical reports, that your American friend, Mr. Kenzie, was sodding right— apologies, sir, but again, your words— and that you intended to quit for your health. You said you would dock my pay if I ever brought you your cigarettes again."

Although Wesley is an arse, there are plenty of hints he is not actually a completely bastard.

Wesley made sure his staff were better paid, and had better quarters, than most, and in return, not a one of them said anything when he had men stay overnight in the guest room that was very close to his own.

Especially when his staff feel safe to fight back as only they can.

"The tea is cold."

"Is it, my lord?" Ned said, not looking at him.

"Yes it is," Wesley said, with an edge. "The tea is cold and the toast is burnt and the fire unbanked and I don't have my newspaper."

"I'm sorry to hear that, my lord. Perhaps we're all a bit distracted on account of little Elsie being so upset."

When Wesley is intriduced to Sebastian, he recognizes him as on of the men who had kidnapped his friend's lover while they were all in America.

"You're handcuffed to my bed at gunpoint and you're more upset that the English hunt foxes?"

"No," Sebastian lied.

Sebastian–if it's not completely obvious, is a total cinnamon roll.

Although the author doesn't get everything quite right (such as how dates were written in Europe) she gets all the bonus points for this.

"You were in the army?" Wesley had learned on the front that the Americans had given Puerto Ricans citizenship and then promptly drafted them.

Despite my hesitance to read this story, I thoroughly enjoyed it and want more.

Publisher: Carina Press

November 2022 | Rating: 8/10

Once a Rogue (2023)

Once a RogueSet in New York in 1925

I wish I'd been better able to focus, because I love Allie Therin's stories. In fact, I was hoping that the story would allow me to focus on something outside of myself.

The failing is mine, not the story's. I'll try and read it again at a later time, when I'm in a better head space.

That said I did enjoy it, I just couldn't focus and felt like I missed a lot.

An aside, having just reread the series, Wesley kept reminding me of Murderbot.

Wesley had never been the possessive type. Jealousy was, after all, a feeling, and he was incapable of those.

And Wesley was absolutely not going to have an emotion about a truckload of people praising him.

Wesley's part of the story is to a great degree, Sebastian comvincing him he isn't a monster for the actions he took during the war.

Sebastian has his own problems, but he deal with them by burying them.

Men like Wesley and Langford wore their scars on the outside, where everyone could see and know to keep their distance. Sebastian kept his inside, where they couldn't hurt anyone else.

I identify strongly with Sebastian, but I enjoyed reading about Wesley–mostly because I wanted problems far from my own.

"After all, it is apple season."

"Apple season." Were the river views and fiery leaf-covered mountains not sufficient? How quaint did one town need to be? "We're also not here for pie."

"I might be here for pie," Sebastian said.

I too might be here for pie.

Publisher: Carina Press

August 2023 | Rating: 7/10

Sugar & Vice

Liar City (2023)

Liar CityNo one knows where the empaths came from. All people know is they have to be touching you to read you–and that they are all pacifists, unable even to defend themselves.

Because the real empath she knew wouldn't be doing shots with rich workaholics; he'd be lecturing everyone on the evils of drinking and driving and hiding their car keys.

Reese has been living with his half-sister, but she is a police detective, and he sometimes consults for the police, as a way to help with the rent, but that hasn't been going well.

This was obviously going to be good news, an unknown caller at four a.m. on a Tuesday.

Since events in March, Reese has picked up a new and unwanted talent–the ability to tell when someone is lying. And it doesn't make things easier for him.

(T)he worst part was Gretel herself wasn't a liar. She was worse: a true believer with unshakable faith in her own bias.

Several things.

First, this story throws you right into the middle of things, so you have to jump in with both feet and trust the story not to leave you behind. There are several other books I can think of that do this, and with good effect.

But it also means I'm going to want to read it again, to pick up bits and pieces I missed.

Secondly, a lot of the characters in this story are assholes.

Special Agent Damian Nolan darkened the screen of his tablet before lowering the window to reveal an officer with a panicked expression. "What?"

"Did you see the truck that just arrived on scene?"

"I'm not traffic control, I'm busy," said Nolan. "Get rid of them."

"Sir, it's the driver. We were told—"

He cut her off. "Don't tell me about the problem, tell me when it's solved."

I'm not quite sure why we have to spend so much time with Nolan, but I really don't like it.

The main mystery of the story is resolved, but there is so much more about the world we don't know–and that I really do want to know.

Publisher: Carina Adores

March 2023| Rating: 7/10