Title: Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana #2)
House Line: Dreamspun Beyond #19
Author: Ari McKay
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 1st 2018
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance
Page Count: 220 pages
Reviewed by: Jia
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The magic touch.
Ever since Harlan Edgewood was bitten by a possessed werewolf, his monthly shifts have been agonizing. When he meets Whimsy Hickes—a mage who specializes in transformation—the attraction is mutual. But Harlan believes his curse is too great a burden to inflict on any romantic partner.
Fortunately, Whimsy thinks he can help.
When Harlan is provoked into an unexpected change, Whimsy uses his magic to help ease Harlan’s pain, but with an unexpected consequence. While he’s shifted, Harlan’s wolf claims Whimsy as his mate.
As they draw closer, suspicious events in the Asheville magical community escalate. Shifters are disappearing, others are murdered, and Harlan’s curse makes him an obvious target. It will take all of Whimsy’s magic to force back the rising evil—and if he fails, Harlan will lose not only his life, but his very soul.
Forged in Fire deals with the mystery of a possessed wolf pack as well as Harlan’s and Whimsy’s relationship but if you want more action or more emotional roller coaster ride this is not the book for you. Even though it is the second book of the Asheville Arcana series I read it as a standalone, which wasn’t a problem at all. However to get the full experience I recommend reading the whole series as this one leaves us with only the closure of Harlan’s and Whimsy’s relationship. I wanted to read this book because Harlan’s wolf, during an unintentional shift, claimed Whimsy, however the claiming felt merely like a recognition by Harlan’s wolf of Whimsy being his destined mate.
The two, Harlan and Whimsy, could have been two ordinary people taken from real life and put into the book, except for being a werewolf and a mage of course. They fit well together and in the beginning of the book Harlan’s character seems to lack confidence and comes off as a little needy which changes as Harlan gets to know Whimsy more. Maybe it’s because he hasn’t had any real friends until he met Eli. Whimsy longs for a relationship similar to Eli’s and Arden’s and is a competent mage with confidence and a caring heart.
Harlan’s had centuries to suppress his wolf and therefore he doesn’t run amok and bites people but we never find out how he dealt with it in the beginning and when he shifted Harlan seemed no more dangerous than a fluffy dog seemingly under total control of himself. I feel as if there should be a story to tell right there which would have an impact on Harlan’s character as he’s very much against giving his curse to others.
However I feel hesitant about the age of Harlan, who was bitten by a demon possessed werewolf and therefore can’t shift at will like born shifters. To be over 300 years old and still blush when he sees Whimsy in shorts and his reaction towards Whimsy’s offer of helping to numb the pain during his shift even though he’s lived 300 years without relief of the monthly pain, I find it a little strange how Harlan seems to take it for granted that Whimsy will actually be able to do it. Harlan comes across as 20+ years old rather than 300 years old in my opinion. I also feel as if the council were very boneless and suspicious in the refusal to help.
The book wasn’t what I expected from reading the blurb but it was an easy read and I believe if you cared for the first book in this series you will probably like Forged in Fire as well.