Half Blind by Christine Price
Title: Half Blind
Series:Freelance Magic, Book 1
Author: Christine Price
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, October 16, 2012
Rating: B List
Blurb: Opposites attract…and drive each other crazy.
Freelance Magic, Book 1
Eight years ago, wizard Ashley Brandon thought his mentor was above the temptation to misuse magic. He was wrong, and the aftermath left him scarred. And determined to never again let anyone close.
When he’s assigned to a task force protecting an ancient relic, he butts heads with the infuriating, charismatic Frederick “Charles” Greer. The man is completely unreasonable. And so is Ashley’s gut response to his outrageous flirting.
Greer was only supposed to temporarily consult on the task force, but his admittedly unorthodox views on team building put him at odds with Brandon, one of the most attractive, frustrating men he’s ever met. The mission’s success requires complete cooperation, so Greer makes the first move to ease the tension.
An apology leads to bickering, which unexpectedly leads them to the bedroom. But as that tension shifts into something more fierce, a brush with the relic’s power turns everything upside down. Leaving the mission—and Brandon’s heart—in even greater jeopardy.
Review: This book starts off with a bang, almost literally, with a massive betrayal and tragedy. I was hooked from the first couple of pages, sympathetic to the shock and hurt (both literal and emotional) that Ashley Brandon experienced. We’re given a glimpse of the dangers of magic, the temptations to use it for personal gain and how quickly the elements can subjugate the wielder. I was reminded of that moment in The Fellowship of the Ring when Frodo practically begs Gandalf to take the offending ring off his hands and Gandalf yells, “Don’t tempt me, Frodo!”
Then, the story veers in an unexpected direction, one I had some difficulty following, what with the quick introduction of several characters. However, the beginning was so promising I stuck it out and trusted the author would make it clear what was going on, which it eventually did.
The meat of the story begins with Agent Brandon getting assigned to the security detail tasked with refitting The Museum of Unnatural Wonders –Un-Won, which I thought was clever, but I’m kind of a nerd that way—to house the Eye of Odin. The Eye is a powerful, ancient magical object that has the ability to see the past, present, and all possible futures. What thief wouldn’t find benefit in knowing how to handle every heist they plan until the day they die? What business man wouldn’t want to know how to approach an unruly client or business deal to eliminate all competition? What politician wouldn’t see value in knowing just how to win every future election by a landslide, to know all their opponents’ dirty little secrets and motivations? It’s got danger written all over it just for the potential of landing in the wrong hands, let alone that it’s so powerful it has the capacity to drive sane men mad, or even kill them. (Although I would think that would be in the security team’s favor, that the Eye can kill its wielder so quickly. Less chance for the unsavory user to manage true destruction.)
Brandon’s career with the CSIT –Canadian Supernatural Investigation Team—has been, to this point, boring and tedious, a glorified paper pusher. Given his history and involvement with one of the most powerful and insane magicians in history, TPTB fear his capabilities and stability, so they keep him close. He’s not about to pass up the chance for field work, even if it’s fireworks and land mines when he meets the project manager.
Frederick “Charles” Greer is irreverent, frustrating, and one of the most entertaining characters I’ve ever read, and he’s the project lead for the Un-Won security refit. His blinding Hawaiian shirts, tasteless jokes, and inappropriate invasion of personal space immediately make him a scene stealer, and he’s just the ticket to unwind the uber-stuffy Brandon. Given Brandon’s history, I had no trouble seeing how he got so uptight, but it was entertaining to watch Greer unbuild Brandon’s walls brick by brick. Their chemistry was good, and Greer was somewhat an enigma, slippery and loose. If I were to meet him in real life, I’d be uncomfortably drawn to him. I’d need to see what happens next, but would hope he wouldn’t point that high powered perception at me.
There’s a reason Greer’s slippery, and when I got to the part that illustrated that, my mouth dropped open. I was not expecting that plot point at all and I had to find out what this knowledge of Greer’s history would mean for him and Agent Brandon. The nuance of their relationship, while a little shallow at the beginning of their romantic entanglement, solidified by the end, making the decisions each character made completely believable and truly an entertainment to read.
So! One creepy all-powerful magical object. Unscrupulous thieves and rich men determined to have it for themselves. A damaged wizard tired of coasting through life. An infuriating, intriguing, plucky project manager who is not what he seems. And magic. Honey, what are you waiting for? Go get it!