Author ~ Mason Thomas
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 6th November 2015
Genre ~ High Fantasy, Mystery/Syspense M/M Romance
Scoundrel by nature and master thief by trade, Mouse is the best there is. Sure, his methods may not make him many friends, but he works best alone anyway. And he has never failed a job.
But that could change.
When a stranger with a hefty bag of gold seduces him to take on a task, Mouse knows he’ll regret it. The job? Free Lord Garron, the son of a powerful duke arrested on trumped up charges in a rival duchy. Mouse doesn’t do rescue missions. He’s no altruistic hero, and something about the job reeks. But he cannot turn his back on that much coin—enough to buy a king’s pardon for the murder charge hanging over his head.
Getting Garron out of his tower prison is the easy part. Now, they must escape an army of guardsmen, a walled keep and a city on lockdown, and a ruthless mage using her power to track them. Making matters worse, Mouse is distracted by Garron’s charm and unyielding integrity. Falling for a client can lead to mistakes. Falling for a nobleman can lead to disaster. But Mouse is unprepared for the dangers behind the plot to make Lord Garron disappear.
You know, I'm a tough old bird and I really don't do this book boyfriend thing. For me the appeal of M/M is that they like each other and I don't have to be involved other than by giving the protagonists a cheer. But I have utterly fallen for Lord Mouse and want to pick him up and feed him and take him home.
This is because Mouse is a type of hero rarely seen even in M/M fantasy. He's a bad guy. No really. He's the type of bloke who, woken from a deep and possibly drunken sleep could kick you in the face, pick your pocket and be out of the window before his eyes open. Mouse kills people, without hesitation, and the author makes no apologies for that. I really admire that in a writer, and in a thief and assassin for hire, that drive to get the job done no matter what is a huge asset, even if it's really unfortunate for the poor red shirts who encounter him in the course of his business.
So there's little Mouse [not a nickname he's partial to but what can you do?] perennially hard up and in desperate need of funds and there's a foppish young man prepared to offer him huge sums of moolah to get some aristo out of jail in a foreign city. Mouse has little interest in the identity of his target or the possibly trumped up charges or that the lad's diplomatic immunity is close to running out - he has a total contempt for the ruling classes - but he is interested in the size of the purse and the promise of more. So off Mouse goes to get a feel of the city and to formulate a plan.
This is classic fantasy fare. In some ways it reminded me very much of the first of the Nightrunner series in scope and potential, although this seems to be a standalone story where that was clearly a springboard to a series. The descriptions of city life, the guilds, the political machinations are all very satisfying. I loved that most of the secondary characters encountered by Mouse have an agenda of their own and are merely making time for him in a busy schedule. I loved the detail of Mouse's larcenous craft and the effort he's prepared to put into fulfilling the contract. I liked the changes of pace as the protagonists veered from mad scrambling action to having to hide in the dark. I really liked that clues to Mouse's background are dropped carefully, like breadcrumbs, into the text and the author trusts the reader to put them together.
A caveat, that isn't really an issue for me but might be for some potential readers. This book is a fantasy adventure story not a M/M romance. Mouse's sexuality isn't a big issue for the majority of the book. Society is accepting of same sex relationships, although there are boorish individuals. Unattached, if Mouse has the opportunity to have sex, he does, and he's shocked at how much he fancies Garron, the young man he is sent to rescue, but he's a thief and fixer first and foremost and fondling has to wait until he can make time for it, and when he does it’s dealt with as a fade to black. In short I loved the book and the hero, who pushes all my competence kink buttons, but it might disappoint a reader who wants a more "all for love and the world well lost in glorious, minute detail' approach.
If there's another Mouse book I'll be a very happy reader, if not I'll await what Mason Thomas comes up with next with as much patience as I can muster.