Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Captive Magic by Angela Benedetti

Title: Captive Magic
Author: Angela Benedetti
Purchase at Torquere
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: BS Clay
Genre: Urban fantasy
Length: 307 pages, 92K words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf, print

Teleporter Breck Bayes made a deal with a demon to save the life of his little sister Amanda, who was dying of cancer. The demon expects Breck to work off the debt -- as a thief who can get past any walls or locks. If Breck balks, Amanda's cancer will come back, and she'll die. Breck's a good guy, but a few trinkets versus Amanda's life? It's no contest.

Manny hears about Breck's popping around town and uses his own talents to find and confront him. Sentinels are supposed to prevent the magegifted from using their talents to steal, by force if necessary, but then he gets the whole story. Manny understands family, and he decides that his Sentinel persona is going to have to suck it up and deal while he helps Breck get out from under the demon -- even if it means becoming an accomplice to the thieving while they plot Breck's escape. But then the demon notices Manny, whose truesight and seeking would be very useful in its quest to own things that don't properly belong to it, and suddenly it's not only Breck who's in trouble.

This is the third novel in the Sentinels universe, and it’s time for Manny’s story at last. He’s been left behind to mind the magic in California while the rest of the Sentinels are dealing with the craziness in the Seattle area in the previous book, Emerging Magic. (Good stuff, read it.) Since this world busts out with elves and incubi and elementals, Manny’s reaction to a report of a guy who disappears *poof* is—who is he, why is he doing this, and what does he want? Not how’s he doing it or he couldn’t possibly be doing it.

Turns out Breck is indebted to a being who isn’t from around here, who has talents not normally seen around here, and who wants various artifacts that make no sense to Breck. As long as his sister’s in remission, he’ll steal, and as long as he steals, she’s healthy. It’s a true devil’s bargain.

The story seems to start off a bit slowly, but it’s an introduction to the world if you’re starting here, and a slow burn of Manny and Breck developing interest in each other and context for their skills. Their families variously encourage or discourage them. Real life problems are more important than constant smexing, which is a refreshing change from a lot of mm. These guys can stay on task and they can stay on task together, once they come to trust each other enough to be clear on what’s going on. No insta-anything here, they have to work for each smidgen of trust.

One recurring idea in this universe is that humans aren’t the biggest, baddest magic-wielders around—smarts, negotiation, and guile make for more intriguing reading anyway. While magic isn’t hidden in this world, sometimes a talent doesn’t want to admit what he can do, and sometimes mere talent isn’t enough to solve a problem.

The sister and the niece are especially charming characters, Manny and Breck each have a teen girl to love, cherish, and be exasperated by. The rest of their families felt real enough to invite to dinner. Not all the action takes place in our plane, and the other dimensional setting was strange and unique.

While I think I understand the reason for the pacing, it did feel a little too leisurely at times, but I am really glad to have Manny’s story. Breck could be a wonderful addition to the Sentinel team, and aren’t there more characters who should come back from Seattle for their own books? Cal? Aubrey? 4 marbles.

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