Author: Brandon Fox
Cover artist: Cat Ford
Amazon: The Finder
Genre: Fantasy M/M Romance/Mystery-lite
Length: 240 pages
Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5 stars
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This was an exciting mix of fantasy adventure and endearing love story
Rhan knows what it means to bear the daemon’s visible mark. The Empire claimed and culled his childhood friend, and he has never forgiven the government for its callousness. When Rhan is assigned to help Imperial soldiers find a dangerous heretic, he is hard-pressed to keep his opinions—and his invisible advantages—to himself. Surprisingly, one of the young guides in the hunt, Aerik Rodan, shares some of Rhan’s ideas. As the journey brings their minds closer, it also ignites the passion between them. But any thoughts of happiness are threatened as the hunt for one heretic soon leads them to the source of the heresy and a truth about their world that could bring chaos and war upon them all.
After I finished this book I realized that I am going to have to add another name to the list of authors whose books I will definitely at least consider buying and most likely will buy. I really liked Finder. I liked that it was a fantasy with strong world building, which is done with no information dump whatsoever; in fact we are thrust right in the middle of action and, while some crucial world building blocks are initially a little confusing for the reader, it is confusing in a good way. I wanted to understand what is happening in this world and what kind of hold the Empire has on its villagers, who seem to feel obligated to serve it.
As the blurb tells us, Rhan is assigned to help the Imperial soldiers find a dangerous heretic. Rhan is not particularly fond of the Empire, but one of the Imperial soldiers seems to share at least some of his thoughts. I will not tell you why Rhan is assigned to this particular job, because this will go to the heart of many interesting plot developments in this book, but of course the blurb does not make it a secret that Rhan and Aeric become friends and lovers on this journey.
This story has a very exciting and fun plot, and this is yet another fantasy work where the author gives a fresh twist to several familiar themes, or maybe those themes are familiar to me, since I have read a lot of fantasy. The love story between Rhan and Aeric is a seamless part of the plot, something not always easy to do. I have read m/m fantasy books where the plot was interesting and fun, but characters seemed static and just served as plot puppets,. I have also read fantasy books where the plot only served as a window dressing for the book to be called a fantasy. This book manages to combine exciting fantasy action and a great love story between the characters as much as it is possible to do when the plot constantly twists and turns. While the characters do not undergo huge changes, there is significantly more character development than I would usually expect in a plot-driven book. From the moment we meet Rhan I could not help but like him, somebody who has to keep his secret (or he thinks he have to), but who cannot help but question everything and everybody around him, even if his Elders have told him it may not be the wisest thing to do.
When Rhan and Aeric meet for the first time, I really liked how the author managed to convey understandable wariness in Rhan while at the same time being attracted to Aeric’s smile. Their initial connection and the development of such a connection throughout the book just worked really well for me. I felt that despite a lot of grim things Rhan and Aeric go through, their connection was just full of joy. I cannot describe it any better than this; it just worked for me. The several sex scenes also worked really well for me because more often than not I am the type of reader who looks for great story and characters with chemistry first and if I have it, I do not care if the sex completely fades to black. There are very few writers who can sell me on an equally good story, characters and hot sex. It looks like Brandon Fox is one of those few writers because there was much more sex in this book than what I usually enjoy in my stories.
A couple of possible niggles/warnings about the story are as follows. At some point in the story our heroes have sex with another guy, which worked perfectly for me, but I do not know if it will work for everybody. I have a suspicion that if the author decides to write another story about their adventures, then the door has been opened and they may become a true threesome. Again, this is just a suspicion. Actually, I have no idea what to call these three men at the end of this book, however, if the intent is for the three of them to be together as a unit (and not just stay friends with the third) it still worked well for me as this other guy was integrated enough in their lives and adventure. This is another compliment to this writer’s skills because a ménage — or potential ménage — is not an easy sell for me.
My second niggle is that one of the things in this world had to remain mysterious for the most part of the story, but the reader hears what it is called several times. This name was quite jarring for me because it was the same name of beings from a very famous book. I kept wondering if and how those here would be similar or different from what the definition meant in the other book. Of course when the mystery was revealed, it was completely different, but I just wished the author would have come up with a different name for his thing.
Highly recommended overall.