Title ~ Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies #3)
Author ~ K.J. Charles
Publisher ~ Samhian Publishing
Genre ~ M/M Romance, Historical, Paranormal
Danger in the air. Lovers on the brink.
A Charm of Magpies, Book 3
With the justiciary understaffed, a series of horrifying occult murders to be investigated, and a young student who is flying—literally—off the rails, magical law enforcer Stephen Day is under increasing stress. And his relationship with his aristocratic lover, Lord Crane, is beginning to feel the strain.
Crane chafes at the restrictions of England’s laws, and there’s a worrying development in the blood-and-sex bond he shares with Stephen. A development that makes a sensible man question if they should be together at all.
When a thief strikes at the heart of Crane’s home, a devastating loss brings his closest relationships into bitter conflict—especially his relationship with Stephen. And as old enemies, new enemies, and unexpected enemies paint the lovers into a corner, the pressure threatens to tear them apart.
Warning: Contains hot-blooded sex, cold-blooded murder, sinister magical goings-on and a lot of swearing.
Double, double toil and trouble....
There are magpies and magic in the air again, bringing toil and trouble with them for our intrepid noble, Lucien Vaudrey, also known as Lord Crane, and his justiciary lover and magic practitioner Stephen Day; when a set of gruesome murders that can only have been caused by some nefarious wizardry, draws them into another hunt to find the perpetrator and bring him or her to justice. However, It's not just magic that's threatening to interfere with their relationship...it's the real life issues that most partners hit at some stage in their relationship, creeping into their time together and taking their toll on them as a couple.
Stephen is struggling to cope at the justiciary as they're woefully understaffed, he has little or no support from the members of the council who block him at every turn. Esther —his partner —springs unexpected news on him that only serves to put him and his love affair with Lucien under more pressure and to top it all, it looks like urchin Jenny Saint the female windwalker and junior justiciary he and Esther have been mentoring, since they came across her in their last adventure, is possibly using her talents in a way that's far from trustworthy.
Then, as well as the worries around his career, Crane is pushing for Stephen to pack the whole thing in so they can leave the country and relocate somewhere like his old stomping ground Shanghai, where they can live openly as loving partners instead of having to hide their relationship for fear of repercussion. Sick of the restrictions they have to live under in England the only thing stopping him from leaving is Stephen but beside that he also worries about the danger that Stephen faces every time he is sent out to investigate rogue practitioners of magic. Torn between love and obligation, frustrations set in on both sides and cracks begin to show. Tempers flare and words are had...
"....Please don't make this any harder than it is. I don't have any choice."
"You do. You choose to martyr yourself on the altar of the bloody judiciary. You choose to defend the world at the expense of your own life, and now you're doing it at my expense as well."
"Yes, but if I don't do it—"
"Somebody else will. Nobody's irreplaceable, and it's pure arrogance to think you are."
It becomes even more of a cluster fuck when Crane is burgled, an important article is stolen, Merrick is caught out with a secret of his own that inadvertently puts Stephen in the crossfire of the council once again, the blood and sex bond they share begins to take on a life if it's own and finally a new, very intriguing antagonist (Jonah Pastern) enters the mix putting more spokes in the wheel but also linking the whole shebang to recent events from their past and old adversaries who will stop at nothing to see them taken out of the picture. Real nasty pieces of work!!
It got to the point where I was really biting my nails as I just couldn't see how he and Crane were ever going to get out of the corner they found themselves backed into both emotionally—and when the action took off—physically. I wondered if they'd come through it all in one piece; their lives and their love intact because I have to say KJ had me a wee bit worried for a minute or two there, as the foe they faced in this episode seemed pretty unbeatable. One of the villains in particular literally held their lives in his hands and at the flick of wrist could have dispatched them in the most grisly and macabre way possible. Seeing what he did to the poor men who did fall foul of his extremely innovative but ghastly killing method had me shuddering. Nice bit of blood thirsty action there for those of us who love to have our spines tingled!
But despite all that it was still obvious that the love between our two MC's was strong... more established and heartfelt...making the love scenes hotter and more sensual than I think they've ever been. I've always felt that this was more plot lead than romance orientated even though their growing relationship has been a major part of the story but I think this time the love story had more of an emotional punch and the sex was sizzling, with a touch of domination and kink to it that had me drooling slightly! These two aren't averse to a bit of rough sex with cuffs and a touch of dirty talk when the mood takes them.
"He brushed a kiss over Stephens ear in lieu of I love you, and then, since it didn't do to be sentimental, turned it into a bite. Stephen yelped, and Crane pressed the length of his own muscular torso against the others sinewy back, grinding against him.
"Ask for it," he said. "You know you want to, and I'll take you like a two penny whore. Say it. Please my lord..."
Phew!!! What can I say about this last book in the Magpie Lords series? Well I could start with AWESOME! Throw in BRILLIANT! Add some AMAZING and finish off with a FANTASTIC! I've loved each one but I think I have to say this one was my personal favourite. For me it had everything...great plot, excitement, suspense, superb characters, great chemistry, hot love scenes, grin inducing witty banter and humour, nicely placed conflict and angst, edge of your seat moments, just the right balance of romance and action and last but not least a fabulous conclusion that couldn't have ended these 'Magpie' stories more perfectly! It's sad to see Lucien, Stephen and of course the most excellent Merrick take a final bow, so to speak, although I don't think it will be the last we see of them but I'm excited to see that there's a new protagonist on the horizon who will be getting his story told in 'Jackdaw'... He's a real character, the sort who you know you shouldn't like but after meeting him in this, I guarantee you'll be dying to get your hands on his book in February. I know I am. In the meantime put another date in your diaries for 'A Case Of Spirits' a free short that's due in January and if you're missing your Crane and Stephen fix then do what I'm going to to during the wait...start the series all over again! I'll never tire of these enigmatic men and the hocus pocus they get up to. Another KJ Charles sublime read.
Buy it Here
Deleted Scene from Flight of Magpies
In this scene, Crane and Stephen are paying a visit to his close friend Leonora from A Case of Possession. She didn't make it into the final book, which I am a little bit sad about, but here she is, making Crane’s life difficult, as usual.
They knocked on the door of Blaydon’s large, elegant residence as the clocks struck eleven, and were shown into an airy drawing room, where Leonora was elegantly disposed on a chair as a painter worked at his easel.
Darlings!” she said, moving only her bright, dark eyes in greeting. “Stephen, thank you so much for coming. Do forgive me for not getting up. I’m under the strictest orders to stay still.”
“Hello, adai,” said Crane. “I thought that was finished last week.” He nodded at the picture.
“It was, but Eadweard decided he wasn’t happy with the face.” Leo gave a little pout. The artist cleared his throat, and she resumed her demure expression.
Crane and Stephen circled round to look at the portrait, standing behind the artist. It was as Crane had seen it last: Leo in a wonderfully frothy confection of a dress, dark eyes tantalising, a hint of wickedness in her smile. It was a superb image of his friend. He wasn’t surprised the conventional Blaydon didn’t want it as an image of his wife-to-be, and he watched as the artist reworked the face, a few strokes of the clever brush turning the eyes more soulful, the smile gentler, remaking the enticing Mrs Hart into the simply charming Mrs Blaydon.
“It’s a wonderful picture,” Stephen said politely. “Is there something I can do for you, Mrs Hart?”
Leo looked to the artist for permission to speak. “You are coming to the wedding, aren’t you, Stephen?”
“Uh. Yes.” Stephen looked a little nonplussed. He hadn’t taken to Leonora. She was well aware of that and wasn’t inclined to accept it. Most people tried to get their way with Stephen via violence or intimidation; this was the first time a beautiful woman had set out to charm him, and he was finding the experience bewildering. Crane watched with amusement as Leo’s extended hand of friendship took Stephen by the throat.
“I wondered—if you think it’s appropriate, Stephen—I wondered if Dr and Mrs Gold and your other colleagues would like to come to our wedding.”
Crane hadn’t expected that, and nor, judging from his expression, had Stephen. “Really?”
“I’m so terribly grateful for all your help in summer,” Leo said. “I don’t know where I’d have been without you.” They all knew the answer to that: she’d have been dead. “And I would like to invite them, I should like to know them better and to show my gratitude. But I need to know whether it would be professionally awkward for you.” It was clear that she meant, whether Stephen was able to involve his colleagues in his personal life without risk.
Stephen was slightly pink. “Well, I’m sure the Golds would be very pleased…did you actually mean Janossi and Saint too?”
“Yes, but… Saint?” said Stephen faintly.
“He’s got a point,” said Crane. The trainee justiciar Jenny Saint was a street urchin with a foul mouth, a permanent smirk and a talent for walking on thin air. Crane wouldn’t have invited her to a hop in the East End, let alone a society wedding.
“She’s your colleague and your friend, Stephen. That’s all that matters to me. But please, just let me know your decision.” Leonora gave him a graceful little tip of the head, conveying that she was bowing to his superior judgement. Crane wondered if she might be an asset to Blaydon’s political career after all.
“Um,” said Stephen helplessly, and then turned his head at the sound of footsteps in the hall and a confident masculine voice.
“Shit!” said Leo in Shanghainese. “It’s the fiancé. He wasn’t supposed to be here yet.”
“Oh, you silly bitch,” snapped Crane in the same language.
“It’s not my fault, arsehole,” hissed Leo, and sprang up with a welcoming smile as her fiancé entered, giving Blaydon both of her hands. “Eadweard, darling! You’re back early, how lovely.”
Blaydon kissed her fingers with a devoted look. He was a conventionally handsome fellow in his mid-forties, with fair hair shot through with grey, a heavy moustache and a firm jaw. Conservatively dressed in a frock coat, he looked the very model of a gentleman and a Member of Parliament. “My dear. Crane, good to see you. And—?” He cast a glance at the unknown man standing in his house talking to his fiancée. Crane gave momentary thanks that Stephen didn’t look like anything to worry a jealous husband.
“Darling, this is Mr Stephen Day,” said Leo. “He’s one of Lucien’s business partners, you know. Mr Day, this is my fiancé, Eadweard Blaydon.”
Bloody hell, Leo, Crane thought irritably. It was a prompt and fluent lie, but one far too easy to catch.
“I didn’t know Lord Crane had partners?” Blaydon was saying, as he extended his hand to Stephen.
“It’s a loose association,” Stephen said. “Many congratulations on your engagement, Mr Blaydon.” There was tension in his face and voice as his bare hand found Blaydon’s. Crane hoped to hell he was holding back the current of power that continually ran through his fingers. Blaydon didn’t recoil, so evidently Stephen had succeeded, but the smaller man’s face wore the blank expression that so often served as a mask, and Crane knew he would be cringing inside.
“Mr Day will be one of our guests at the wedding, dearest,” Leo said. “I’m just trying to persuade him to bring a companion with him. I’m sure Miss Saint would be so happy to accompany you.” She cast Stephen a sparkling look. “Do promise you’ll escort her, Mr Day.”
Crane saw Stephen’s mouth drop open slightly, evidently lost for words, and interjected, “There’s an old Chinese proverb about matchmakers.” He switched to Shanghainese to tell Leo, “Yes, very good, now stop buggering about,” and returned to English to give Blaydon the spurious translation, “‘A bride will matchmake, a wife will stay silent’.”
“Oh, excellent.” Blaydon gave an approving laugh. “Well, you won’t find me arguing against matrimony, but I hope to see you in whatever company you choose, Mr Day. Are you joining us for lunch now?”
“No!” said Stephen, slightly too forcefully. “I’ve an appointment elsewhere. I must go now, in fact. I’ll let you know about that matter later, Crane. Good day, Mrs Hart, Mr Blaydon.”
He fled the house. Crane couldn’t blame him.
A Charm of Magpies Series Reading Order
Book 1: The Magpie Lord
AMAZON GLOBAL LINK
Book 1.5 ~ Interlude with Tattoos
FREE from ~ SMASHWORDS
Book 2.5: A Case of Spirits
Free Read Due for Release 6th January
Book 3: A Flight of Magpies
AMAZON GLOBAL LINK
Meet KJ Charles
KJ writes mostly romance, gay and straight, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there.
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