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Fabulous world building coupled with deep, rich history and a great lead character had me glued to my eReader. Lanyon is such a skilled writer, so talented that I wonder if there isn't a genre where she wouldn't excel.

Aunt Lynn for Reviews by Jessewave
book hunter Colin Bliss accepts a private commission to find The Sword’s Shadow, a legendary and dangerous witches’ grimoire. But to find the book, Colin must travel to the remote Western Isles and solve a centuries’ old murder.

It should be nothing more than an academic exercise, so why is dour — and unreasonably sexy — Magister Septimus Marx doing his best to keep Colin from accepting this mission — even going so far as to seduce Colin on their train journey north?

As Colin digs deeper and deeper into the Long Island’s mysterious past, he begins to understand why Septimus is willing to stop him at any price — but by then, it’s too late to turn back.

 

The sun had slipped beneath low cloud cover. The peppery vapor of summer rain mingled with the scent of passing automobiles as I started down the long pyramid of stairs. I happened to glance up out of my preoccupied thoughts and recognized — without pleasure — the tall, thin figure coming my way.

Septimus Marx.

He must have noticed me before I did him, for his light green gaze was fixed upon my face.

“Bliss.”

“Marx,” I returned, continuing past him.

I was surprised when he stopped long enough to say, “I take it you’ve already seen everything you wished to?”

“What?” I stopped two steps down from him.

He was already taller than I; positioned as we were, he seemed to tower. He was thin — sinewy, though, not spindly. In fact, he always gave an impression of barely contained force. His black hair was shoulder length in the affected fashion of the English Societas Magicke, his eyebrows oddly slanted in two slashes that gave his face an exotic, almost puppetlike aspect. His eyes were a very pale shade of green like celadon.

The Darkling Thrush was beautifully written. From the tense action to the romantic love scenes, it will capture your heart and your imagination.

He said in that snooty, studied tone, “It’s four minutes past the hour. Was the exhibition not to your taste?”

I’d completely forgotten my official reason for visiting the museum was to see the Botolf Grimoire.

My face must have given me away, because Marx’s eyes narrowed. I said the first idiotic thing that popped into my head. “I just remembered I left the stove on in my flat.”

Well, it wasn’t that bad. It might have even been true; I did frequently forget to turn the stove off and the lights down.

He said, “In that case, as you’ve probably burned the building down by now, you might as well stay and enjoy the exhibit.”

I laughed merrily. “I’ll run home and check. I still might be able to hide the evidence of arson.” I continued down the stairs, past the big stone griffins, and all the way I could feel the weight of his gaze pinned between my shoulder blades.

Marx already thought I was a waste of space. This would merely confirm it. Not that I cared. Better that than he discover what I was really up to.

As I walked along the street, I considered this. Did I really consider what I was “up to” so wrong? I didn’t for one minute imagine I was going to find the Faileas a’ Chlaidheimh, so there was no question of a genuine conflict of interest between my role as librivenator and using my book-hunter skills for private gain. Not that I wouldn’t try to find the grimoire. I’d try my damnedest, as a matter of fact, but the odds against it were astronomical. No, this was simply a paid-for holiday at a time when I desperately needed one.

By the time I returned in two or three weeks, the tempest in a teapot caused by my affair with Antony would have blown over. Antony would have started some new romantic intrigue, and the disapproving attention at Leslie’s Lexicons would have a fresh focus.

This quest of Lavenham and Anstruther’s was a godsend. There was nothing to feel guilty or nervous about — regardless of how it might look to others. However, I wasn’t so naive that I couldn’t guess how it would look to others; I realized I needed to keep my plans a secret, at least for the time being.