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Book Review: His Master’s Summons, by Cassie Sweet

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His Master's Summons, Azgarth's Chose Book 1, Cassie Sweet (2)

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At the chasm between life and death lurks the art of reanimation.

When world-famous violinist Andres Valentine is pushed from a window to his death by Herr Maestro Wilhelm Kering, he is snatched back from the abyss by a doctor well-versed in reanimation. Contrary to popular belief, Andres’s life up to this point has not been filled with opulent soirees and adoring fans, but is controlled by a hellish force, a being of the dark fae—Azgarth.

Henri Vauss is a medical student who works for a man capable of raising the dead. Even though the practice is controversial, Henri sees the revolutionary side of the science and enjoys the challenges he finds in Dr. Stanslovich’s lab. Ever since taking on the case of Valentine, though, odd occurrences have infected the manor, making Henri question everything he believes about science and the world.

When Valentine confides to Henri that he wants to be rid of Azgarth’s bonds, Henri vows to find a way to free him, never expecting to get caught in the snare of the fae master.

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Book – His Master’s Summons (Azgarth’s Chosen #1)

Author – Cassie Sweet

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 234

Movie Potential – ★★★★★

Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow

Would I read it again – Definitely

** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

As the title suggests, this is the first of a series, so don’t expect a HEA at the end. There’s a very nice HFN, but this is just the first story in a long journey and I love that. I’m often drawn to series, because I love following the same characters over and over again. I don’t know – and can’t say – how prominent these characters will be in future books, but I can only hope that at least Andres and Henri are back as main characters. I’d also like to know more about Mikhail and Dante’s past.

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To start with, I just have to applaud Cassie Sweet on being an incredible storyteller. Not one moment went by that I wanted to put the book down, have a break or needed time to digest what was going on, because of confusion. Everything was perfect, in that imperfect way of novels – I got what I wanted and what was promised, without a neat little, impossible, bow at the end, pretending everything was hunky dory. It’s not.

This book ends on a moderate cliffhanger, the way that all good series-books should. Yet, it wasn’t abrupt or sudden, it wasn’t unexpected or leave me with unanswered questions. I learned everything I needed to know, in this story. The few questions I have, I’m positive will be told in future stories of the series. Why? Because there was a constant and regular importance – minor to the main plot – that implied as much.

The characters – Dante, Mikhail, Henri and Andres – are brilliant. Each are unique and clever, witty and sophisticated in that old fashioned way of the 1800’s. Dante is a brooding, dark soul, who is haunted by his past. Mikhail is the positive medical force, rooted in science, but short sighted and abrupt. He treats staff like staff, while Dante is more free-flowing with social conformity. In contrast, Henri is Mikhail’s assistant; clever, feisty, talented and inventive, he is more willing to see outside the box of their social parameters. As is Andres, the violinist, who is marked by the Fae.

The chemistry between Henri and Andres is palpable, jumping off the page from their first meeting. But, even then, it’s got an understated feel about it. They don’t fight it in the traditional sense, but from propriety and the difference of their social classes. Right from the first, you can sense a comradery between them that is heart-warming. I was honestly worried, at one point, that Mikhail would get his way with Andres, because he was so jealous of Henri’s closeness to him. As a character, Mikhail was blind as a bat to everything that should have been obvious, but I think that worked really well. It was appropriate for his character and for his profession. At the same time, I love that Henri is more accepting, though he’s sceptical and uses proven personal experiences, his trust in Andres and the concept of faith – believing in a God or Devil that cannot be seen – as further proof to understand Andres fears and the Fae world.

As a villain, Wilhelm is intriguing and a clever director. But, Azgarth is an even more impressive puppet-master. He wangled things just nicely, knowing decades in advance exactly what skills might come in useful later and how to manipulate them. He gave certain of his chosen ones the time they needed to perfect the talents they required to do his bidding. It was a low undercurrent of the novel, that occurred to me around halfway through, because of a certain conversation that I can’t mention. But, once the idea came to me, I warmed to the whole idea of just how powerful the Fae may prove to be in future books. Azgarth is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

The musical and medical knowledge is second to none. I’ve honestly never read a book about either that has covered the subject so well, in such appropriate amounts of detail, without elaborating for their own plot needs. Similarly, there is good, historically accurate knowledge of the time, the medicine of that time and the rest, that really makes this stand out as a brilliant story. It could remain nothing more than a great historical novel, if it wasn’t for the addition of the Dark Fae. This is what brings that Fantasy/Supernatural feel to it and it’s cleverly done.

The world created – both the human world and that of the Fae – is extensive, well written and fully explored to my satisfaction, without any feeling of there being something missing. Every time they stepped into this alternate world, you could almost sense it coming, but could never be quite sure of what might happen. The suspense and mystery was a nice touch, that I enjoyed.

There are a few notes that I made that I can’t share with you. Mostly, this was on my theories of what the story entailed, as I read it, and what might be revealed. Some of those theories have been hinted at a solution, but one hasn’t been given, so I’m not going to share mine right now. I’ll be waiting patiently for the next book, to see if I’m right.

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OVERALL

I’m still digesting. There was a lot of intricacy in the story and I’m still pondering over how the events might effect what comes next. Truthfully, though, the story and writing was so fantastic that I dropped into a little world of my own. Where Fae seemed possible, where the music haunted my non-reading time, and where the concept of what might happen next is right at the front of my mind.

Reading this in one sitting, the story is a little more intense than some others in the M/M genre. Make no mistake, this is not an M/M romance. This is powerful, well crafted M/M fantasy all the way. Yes, there is a romance, but that’s a secondary plot to the one that holds the story together. And for that, I’m so grateful. The sex scenes were great and realistic, but well contained to what is appropriate for the story and the plot.

Cassie Sweet has just made it onto my auto-buy list.

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FAVOURITE QUOTE

I have two. I was too engrossed with the story to notice if others would make brilliant quotes or not.

“Andres lifted the violin and ran the bow across the strings. A melody sweet and seductive began to pour from the instrument. If Henri wanted to give Andres a choice, he’d choose Henry. With heart and soul bleeding into the air, he played for only Henri, to show him what he’d been unable to say so far. The words were there as notes, caressing, penetrating every part of the body.”

“The love and trust reflected back from Henri’s eyes was enough to make Andres want to slay dragons and defeat dark fae in sing-handed combat.”

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