Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
It’s been almost a year since assassin Max chased his foster brother Devin onto the mystical Renaissance Faire grounds with orders to kill him. But the Faire has a mind of its own as does its small band of inhabitants and Max ended up a prisoner of the Faire and his soul captured in a magical amulet. Now its time for the Faire to return from its home in another dimension and take up residence in the Faire grounds in the present. During the past year, Max has changed profoundly and found friends amongst the villagers and Faire workers. Even his foster brother Devin has forgiven him and found love.
So now its time to return to the normal world and with Joryk’s help, they will smash the amulet and return Max’s soul and free will to him. Max is afraid that with the return of his soul, the worst of Max will return as well. Plus Kelderman, Max’s old crime boss, is still after Max and Max is afraid he will put the Faire and his friends in danger once they return.
Joryk, the Faire’s mage, has assigned Max to work with the Faire’s brew master, Shepherd, to keep Max busy until the amulet can be broken and out of sight of any of the crime bosses underlings looking for Max on the Renn grounds. But Shepherd wants nothing to do with Max, even as a worker helping him at the brewery. Shepherd thinks Max is the reason his cousin, Perry, got back into drugs, and Max has a past history as a drug dealer, no matter what Max tries to tell him. Even at odds, both men find the other attractive. With everything coming to a head, criminals on the hunt, an amulet to destroy and a soul to return, can love still find a way into the hardest of hearts?
I found Madeleine Ribbon’s stories when I read the first book in this series, Faire Fugitive, last year and fell immediately in love with both the characters and the premise behind the series. A lover of all things Renaissance Festival, the idea of a magical Renn Faire that disappeared into an enchanted dimension once the season was over, only to return the following year to sell it’s inhabitants wares and restock up on supplies needed, charmed me. A sort of Renn Faire Brigadoon! Only some of the Renn Faire workers are year around inhabitants and know the secrets of the Faire and Faire grounds, including the fact that the Faire has a mind and will of its own. That concept alone had me in thrall. But then Madeleine Ribbon added some vulnerable and fascinating characters and I was hooked!
Max was a villain, sort of, in the first story. Forced into becoming an assassin for the crime boss Kelderman, Max thought becoming a killer was the only way he could protect Devin who his boss wanted dead. Instead of killing Devin, Max would hunt him, scaring Devin into running over and over again. But Max also had to kill others on Kelderman’s orders and that ate at his soul until the voices in his head almost destroyed him. Only being captured by Joryk in the Faire grounds and having his soul taken away and imprisoned in a crystal amulet, saved Max. The year spent in the other dimension restored much of Max’s humanity and gave him peace even if he was left without free will and still a prisoner within the village boundaries. Ribbon’s descriptions of the magic of the other dimension and the places that Max seeks out as solace make it easy to understand how Max feels and the sanctuary it has provided.
But everything has its complications, including the soul spell that Joryk and the others didn’t fully understand. The repercussions of the spell are just being fully realized and that’s a huge part of this story and its most poignant element. Max is full of guilt for his past actions and the fear of the future once his soul returns haunts him. As it should. I loved that the author realizes that there should be weighty consequences for Max’ past actions. He destroyed peoples lives. And you can’t get off with a new life without paying the price of the pain and death you caused in the past. The ramifications will be as horrific as his deeds and Madeleine Ribbon’s scary descriptions are up to the task of making us feel what Max feels. Those scenes hit home with some hefty emotional power.
Yes, there is a romance here as well. A reluctant one at the start, given the personalities and histories involved. That a great choice because a case of instant love would definitely be out of place here. The relationship is a slow one, evolving over a period of 3 months, the duration of the Faire in present time. And the romance between Max and Shepherd is always a tenuous one. Given the circumstances, neither is sure how to go forward or even if that is possible. That’s a lovely realistic touch.
The story flows rapidly to its conclusion and I was left wanting to remain with the characters back in the land of shimmering birds and lights that chase each other through the ancient woods. Just as I was at the end of Faire Fugitive. Madeleine Ribbon has created a magical world that you won’t want to leave and filled it full of characters to love. I can only hope that there is another Faire story on the horizon. I know there is one Faire librarian in need of romance and a HEA. I hope he gets it and we get another story.
Cover Art by Fiona Jayde. Nice even if the dot over the “i” is placed directly over the cover model’s nipple!
ebook, 263 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Loose Id (first published June 30th 2014)
seriesThe Faire #2
Books in The Faire series to date:
Faire Fugitive (The Faire, #1)
Faire Protector (The Faire, #2)