Title: Mages & Mechanisms (Jak & Leander #1)
Author: Devin Harnois
Publisher: October Night Publishing
Release Date: May 18, 2018
Genre(s): Romance, Fantasy
Page Count: 187 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Leander Weatherford doesn’t want a mage, but he needs one. Enchanted mechanical animals are all the rage among the upper classes, and selling them will save his struggling family business. Enter Jak, whose enchanting ability is second only to his talent for flirting. It’s dangerous to keep such a tempting man close, but Leander can’t resist—in more ways than one.
Jak needs money to continue his aimless life of running. A partnership with Leander provides both income and a lovely diversion. Their masterful creations catch the attention of an eccentric baroness who offers them an enormous sum for an ambitious project—a full-scale mechanical dragon.
Swept into a life rubbing elbows with nobility, Leander is pleased but overwhelmed. Spending both workdays and evenings with Jak, he finds himself drawing closer to the charming mage. But Jak is hiding a dangerous secret, and the truth could tear them apart.
This is an interesting book although not particularly memorable. It is based in a world where there is a clear social caste system; it utilises this to explore the interaction of the classes. This is done on an individual basis where characters are introduced who has a specific viewpoint or attitude. There is little development of historical or cultural context and many of the events mentioned are not expanded upon beyond the needs of the current story. This leaves the reader with the plot and little else. Characterisation is reasonably well done, but similarly here there is little exploration of an individual’s past that explains why they act as they do. The world building and magic system are interesting but do not offer particular depth.
What is left is the story. This is largely well written and holds the reader’s attention throughout. It is written in the 3rd person, which is helpful when detailing the story; however, quite a lot of the book is based on the thoughts and feelings of the two central characters and as such does not hold up so well outside of 1st person introspection.
The two central characters are of different social groups and historical and social attitudes work to keep them at arms length. This quite a common mechanism and is appropriate here. It is unfortunate that these attitudes are not more fully grounded as they offer a token resistance. The reader is therefore not faced with a growing tension that requires resolution beyond a stated desire. The passion once exhibited is descriptive rather than expressive.
The story has a reasonable pace and as noted keeps the reader’s attention. Where tension is introduced it is resolved quite quickly and positively so there is little angst to dwell upon.
At the end of the story the threads of the plot are resolved and a positive outcome achieved. This is described as the first in a series but there are no cliffhanger or clear areas for further development. As such the reader must make up their own mind as to whether to return to this world for more advuentures.