Title: Lust and other Drugs (Mytho #1)
Author: T.J. Nichols
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Genre(s): Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 212
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Police officer Jordan and dragon shifter Edra might have to work together, but they don’t trust each other—even if sparks do fly between them.
If anyone finds out Jordan’s a mytho sympathizer, it could kill his career. No one can know that he frequents the satyr dens and uses the drug Bliss. A dead satyr might not get much attention, but two dead humans who appeared to overdose on Bliss? That shouldn’t even be possible.
And it might not be an accident.
Edra, Mythological Services Liaison, has been covering up mytho crimes to protect the community’s reputation. With a mayoral election looming, the last thing his people need is a scandal like this one.
To get a murderer off the streets, Jordan and Edra will be spending a lot of time together, and it won’t be easy to keep up with their deceptions. Or keep resisting each other.
When I read Fantasy, the first pages operate like some sort of non-legal contract between me and the author. The latter tries to “sell” the framework for her/his story, and I either accept the framework, sign on the dotted line (and therefore “buy” it). Or I don’t. The main arguments to make me “buy the story” are simple: I need to get hooked, I need to be drawn into the new, imaginary world the author proposes; I need to feel authenticity, some degree of probability, no matter how far-fetched the new universe seems on first sight (I mean, Olympic gods? Wizard schools? Talking, god-like lions? Hobbits? Not very likely to exist. Yep, but—read them all, “bought” them all). To make a long speech short: I found T.J. Nichols’ universe very, very far-fetched—and I bought it whole-heartedly. Because this was one helluva unputdownable book!
Let’s see. The universe we discover is modern-day San Francisco. No Middle Earth, no Hogswarth, no Narnia, alright. But. A scientific experiment has gone wrong, and BOOM!, a foreign world has collapsed on our good, old Earth. New inhabitants are now stranded all over the globe: the so-called mythos. Dragons, shifters, vampires, satyrs, merpeople, werewolves, and other legendary creatures. Cohabitation is strenuous at best of times, those mythos being considered by many as little more than animals, and sometimes the organization created to make integration happen (Mythological Services) is hard put to defend their people. We meet Edra Tendric, a dragon shifter knight who deals mostly with settling disputes amongst mythos and who, because he looks so human, has been asked to work as a liaison officer with the SFPD. And we meet Jordan Kells, a handsome gay police officer recently promoted to homicide, who has a guilty penchant for wearing make-up and fancy lace-and-silk underwear in his free time. Jordan being weary of hook-ups, he’s recently given in to the strange lure of the mythos’ drug Bliss, which can make you have a very good time all by yourself, orgasm included. That’s an even guiltier secret because mythos are forbidden to sell that non-addictive drug to humans. To complicate things further, it’s the last week before the mayoral election takes place. And the current mayor running for his own succession is as anti-mythos as they come, doing all in his might to stir up public opinion against them. In that deleterious atmosphere, a satyr is gruesomely murdered; then, two persons are found dead—they’ve apparently overdosed on Bliss even though mythos claim that’s impossible. Edra and Jordan are forced to work together; they have to struggle with journalists only too happy to spread Fake News, they have to fight against biased police officers… and they try to come to terms with their mutual attraction, which would compromise the whole case if it became public.
Now, told like that, the story doesn’t look like much. The blurb doesn’t do it justice either. What made me “buy” the story, then? What made me enjoy this book? T.J. Nichols opens it with a succinct yet sufficiently detailed prologue that tells about the scientific disaster and subsequent collapse of the mythos’ world. And then the story proper begins; Edra is introduced in what one guesses an everyday peace-making situation where he has to arbitrate between different mythos claimants. And just like that, the reader is thrust into the strange, new, post-collapse San Francisco where mythical creatures roam the streets. And the reader is hooked. This reader was, at any rate. Even though shifters and such are not really my cup of tea, I immediately accepted the oddness of Nichols’ world because… it felt so familiar! Edra may not be human, but a humanoid capable of turning into a dragon, albeit a smallish one, his history, his character, his calm and determination make him seem like an old friend. Jordan, insecure yet strong and wilful, with his guilty “otherness” and his painful past, is the second pillar that “grounds” the plot. Then there’s the whole “anti-refugee”-atmosphere that reminds of the current state of affairs in many a country. Nichols handles that aspect just as skilfully as she treats the slow-burning, slow-blooming romance aspect. A good, focused pace is maintained throughout the book, which offers us Edra’s and Jordan’s POVs in alternating chapters. I opened the book after coming home from work, not knowing what to suspect. I went through the first pages… and before I knew it, I had read three quarters of the book, and it was way past midnight; I almost had to force myself to put the book down then (one needs one’s beauty sleep, after all). Finished it the following evening (I just hope I took my eyes off the book long enough to say “Hello” to my boyfriend when he came home, although I’m not sure I did…)
You get it. This was a thrilling read. I can’t wait for the next book of the series to be released—after all, I need to know if, and how, the relationship between Edra and Jordan develops.
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