Protect it at all costs.
That’s what rugby player Hunter Best’s mother told him before she died. But when Hunter surprises an intruder in his Chicago apartment, he discovers her amulet stolen. Hunter pursues the thief—all the way through a strange vortex. He wakes in a bizarre and violent world, a benighted realm on the threshold of civil war.
The queen has become a ruthless tyrant, punishing any who oppose her, weakening the kingdom’s defenses against the brutal Henerans. To survive, Hunter must depend on the man who robbed him, a handsome former spy named Dax, now a leader of the resistance that believes the queen is an imposter—a Heneran disguised by magic… who also looks identical to Hunter’s mother.
There’s no love lost between Hunter and Dax, and even if Hunter grudgingly agrees with the resistance, he just wants to reclaim his property and go home. But he might be the only one who can oppose the queen and end her reign of terror.
This is first and foremost an adventure story, set in a dangerous medieval-like world full of magic and peril. The romance comes in a close second, very much a slow-burn, though it still carries a punch emotionally.
Dax is a very enigmatic character, trying hard to remain aloof and save the day all by himself, driven by guilt and loss. It’s great to see him, ever so slowly, open up to Hunter. What I love most about Hunter, is how persistent he is and how driven to make a place for himself, first in his rugby team and later on in a world he never could have imagined even existed. His longing for acceptance and his unwillingness to stand idly when faced with injustice make him incredibly endearing.
The world-building is great and the secondary characters are also very well written, some quite intriguing in their own right. The author keeps you guessing as to whom Hunter and Dax can trust or when (definitely not if) danger will strike. I really liked that some of the characters find themselves quite firmly in a gray area, instead of having everyone be stereotypically divided into good guys and bad guys.
Number of stars out of 5: 4