The Magpie Lord by K. J. Charles (A Charm of Magpies, #1)
A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell.
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.
Book 1 of the Charm of Magpies series. Previously published by Samhain.
TITLE: The Magpie Lord
AUTHOR: K.J. Charles
PUBLISHER: KJC Books
LENGTH: 222 pages
GENRE: Paranormal Romance, Historical Fiction
Includes the short story INTERLUDE WITH TATTOOS.
Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s).
The Magpie Lord is sometimes dark, frequently sexy, and overall just what I was looking for. Crane and Day work well as quasi-reluctant partners overcoming a traumatic family history to unravel the dark events surrounding Crane's family home.
This was a very fun read. Paranormal romance is a surprisingly dark genre, and though this particular entry doesn't have vampires or werewolves, it accomplishes a similar level of violence by also being a murder mystery with curses and general magic. It has smartly used power differentials... and consent. Enthusiastic, affirmative consent.
The magpie motif makes its presence felt without being predictable, and we receive part of an explanation that makes me hope we'll gradually learn more of Crane's family history as this series continues. The mechanics of magic receive enough of an explanation in between the main action to feel developed, implying more to be explored later.
Don't skip the Interlude with Tattoos at the end of the book. It continues the romance while also establishing the state of Stephen and Crane's relationship after the events of the main book.
CW for alcohol, blood, gore, violence, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, suicide, murder, death, sexual content, homophobia, incest, rape (backstory), animal cruelty, animal death, antisemitism (brief), cannibalism (brief mention).