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Book Review: The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge, by Jacob Z. Flores

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Book One: Spell Bound

Mason Blackmoor just can’t compete with his brothers, much less his father. They represent the epitome of black magic, strong, dark, and wicked, and though Mason tries to live up to his respected lineage, most of the spells he casts go awry. To make matters worse, his active power has yet to kick in. While his brothers wield lightning and harness the cold, Mason sits on the sidelines, waiting for the moment when he can finally enter the magical game.

When a dead body is discovered on the football field of his high school, Mason meets Drake Carpenter, the new kid in town. Drake’s confident demeanor and quick wit rub Mason the wrong way. Drake is far too self-assured for someone without an ounce of magical blood in his body, and Mason aims to teach him a lesson—like turn him into a roach. And if he’s lucky, maybe this time Mason won’t be the one turned into an insect.

Not surprisingly, the dislike is mutual, and Drake does nothing to dispel Mason’s suspicion that the sexy boy with a southern drawl is somehow connected to the murder.

If only Mason didn’t find himself inexplicably spellbound whenever they are together, they might actually find out what danger hides in the shadows.

Book Two: Blood Tied

Thad Blackmoor’s heart is as cold as his icy magical abilities. He considers emotions a waste of his time and prefers to study the arcane, using the sacred books of his coven to grow in his craft. He aspires to supersede his father and elder brother Pierce in power, and now that his younger brother Mason has tapped into the rare warlock power of darkness, he needs to work harder than ever.

But Thad’s ambitions are halted when he saves Aiden Teine, a fire fairy, from a banshee. Thad’s immediate attraction to Aiden catches him off guard and thaws his cold heart for the first time. As Thad, Aiden, and his brothers investigate the connection between the banshee attack and the vampyre and shadow weaver who almost killed them, Thad tries to dodge Ben, a sexy warlock who won’t let him be after a one-night stand.

Their search leads them to the Otherworld, where something even more insidious is at work—something Thad will need more than logic to stand against.

Book Three: Soul Struck

Like the electricity he commands, Pierce Blackmoor streaks through life on raw power and pure sexual energy. His conquests on the battlefield and in the bedroom form his foundation, but that bedrock crumbles when his younger brothers’ abilities surpass his own. Pierce finds himself at an all-time low, and clawing his way back to the top becomes his only concern.

Pierce’s plan to reassert his dominance, however, takes a backseat when he wounds Kale Aquilo, an emissary of the Beast King, lord of all shifters.

Kale’s beguiling nature shoots like a lightning bolt straight to Pierce’s soul, and when the soft-spoken Kale relays that a virus is killing his people, Pierce abandons his quest for power to do something he has never done before—protect someone other than himself.

As Kale, Pierce, and his brothers struggle to find the root of the magical virus spreading plague across Aeaea, the shifter island, they face a gauntlet of old and new foes. Soul struck, Pierce and Kale must uncover the truth behind the conspiracy gathering in the shadows.

Book Four: Spell Fall

Love and trust made them soul mates, but destiny might have other plans.

Ever since Drake Carpenter fell in love with warlock Mason Blackmoor, his life has been one supernatural battle after another, but Drake doesn’t mind… much. To be with Mason and experience the magical connection they share, Drake would face entire hordes of vampyren, shifters, or fae—and he has. Luckily Drake is immune to magic, though no one can explain his natural ability to negate almost any enchantment. With Drake’s own family gone, Mason is all he has. So why is Drake experiencing disturbing dreams about Mason that terrify him?

A new threat looms on the horizon, and a revelation about Drake’s identity and the true origin of his bond with Mason shatters everything Drake believes. If Drake, Mason, and all of magic are to survive the coming Spell Fall, the most destructive curse in sorcery, Drake must deal with the truth and fight his way back to Mason—because their enemies are gaining strength, and they intend to reach the boy Drake loves first.

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Book One: Spell Bound

Length: 216 pages
POV: Mason, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★★

Wow! What an explosive first book in the series!

Now, before we being, let me say that parts of this are YA, but it’s a YA that is for 18+ only or mature 16+, because there is a lot of sexiness going on in here. It’s very true to the single-mindedness of teenagers going through hormonal changes and having one track minds, but it also accepts that teenagers have sex. So, if you don’t want to read about that, maybe just convince yourself to view Mason and his friends as 20 year olds stuck in high school, because seriously, you don’t want to miss this story.

Right from page one, it packed a punch. The magical aspect of the story was – rejoice! – well explored and a major factor of the storyline. Far too often, I’m offered a story about a witch/warlock and there’s limited on-page magical use, conjuring, discussion and history. I got all of that here, when it was the right time, when it made sense and without any of the laborious stereotypes that might make it corny.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure about Mason as a main character for a little while, at the beginning. He was so cocky, with a bad boy swagger and so convinced that he was this badass who ruled the world that I didn’t know what to make of him. Then he met Drake and he had a little challenge on his hands that blew up into the sweetest, hottest romance I’ve ever read between two teens still in high school.

When it comes to characters, I loved them all! Each one was diverse, entertaining, interesting and added something to the story. I loved Mason and his brothers; Thad and Pierce; as well as their dad. I loved Drake and Adam, Elliot and Aunt Millie. I hated Miranda, as I was supposed to, without thinking her completely evil. Most of all, I wanted to see more of Elliot and Adam, from the minor characters.

I was intrigued by Adam, as a ‘minor’ character with an interesting storyline. At first, I thought maybe he and Pierce had a love/hate thing, but then he showed interest in Mason, which just complicated everything and made him even more interesting. Then there was the part where he asked to speak to Mason and had something to say but was interrupted…nothing more juicy than a secret I don’t get to hear!

I also have to confess that, at first, I hated Mason’s brothers. The way they made him feel, once we saw him outside of the high school environment, nearly broke my heart. Here was this kid being ragged on by two older brothers and his dad, all of whom were out of control trigger-tempers and considered him the useless black sheep, disappointment of a family member. He was ignored, mistreated and disrespected by everyone – especially Miranda! – that it got to me, after a while. Then I began to understand the dynamics more and it all made sense. It was no wonder he wanted to live up to the big-man-on-campus image he had in high school when that was how he was treated outside of it. For such a badass, Mason is sweet, charming, naïve and adorable in all the right ways. Drake is just the same, but on a much deeper level. I love them both, together and apart. They’re perfect for each other.

And, while I’m in a confessing mood, I should also say that I cried. Twice. The first was at the water hose incident, when I realised just what Mason had to deal with from friends and family alike and how strong he had to be not to break down in tears the way I did. The second came later, with the simple but effective and heart-ripping quote:
“No boy should be without his momma.”

For me, the intrigue just kept building until I barely knew what was real, what I was sure of and what might happen next. I was curious over what and who Drake might be, even until the end; I was curious over Adam’s behaviour, the way Drake’s parents died, then the mention of Mason’s mother loving him but that she’d always been hiding a secret she never told him of. After that, things blew up and the supernatural hi-jinx began for real. As did the intense teen-lovin’.

I loved the way that Mason and Drake discussed knowing each other’s secrets in such a natural way that made it so easy and so simple to misunderstand each other’s real meaning. The cleverness and the utter excitement I felt every time they tip-toed around ‘what’ they knew, only for us readers to know they weren’t talking about the same thing, was great.

That is the genius of Flores’ writing. It’s my first book by this author and I can already tell it won’t be the last. It had action, adventure, magic, romance and a whole host of sexiness. The balance between romance, high school drama and a rampaging magical adventure was stunningly well crafted, well written and gripping from page one. What’s not to love?

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Favourite Quote

“He ran a finger through my dark locks and then kissed my nose. “This was perfect for our first time.”
“First time?” I asked, my lips drawing into a huge smile. “Does that mean there’s gonna be a second and a tenth?”
Drake chuckled and shook his head. “I swear. One-track mind.”
I rested my forehead against his. “You haven’t answered my question.”
“Yes,” he said, sighing. “Seconds. Tenths. And maybe even a one hundredth.”
I grinned broadly. “Think we can get to a hundred by tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow?” he asked. “I was thinkin’ tonight. You’re such a slacker.””

Book Two: Blood Tied

Length: 220
POV: Thad, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★☆

For me, this one didn’t have the same impact that book 1 had. While I loved Mason from page one in book 1, I found that Thad’s entire personality changed in this book to make him a lot more mysterious and far more erratic than he’d been previously. It made it hard to figure him out and also to keep track of what was going on around him.

I’ll admit that two of the biggest secrets and twists in the story were a little obvious to me. From early on, I knew that Thad was being manipulated and in what way. I also knew that there was an item being used that shouldn’t have been anywhere near the family and, I confess, I knew the identity of the shadow weaver after the first banshee attack. However, I was still eager to find out if I was right and how all those things worked together.

And while, in any movie or book or TV show that I watch, I’d normally be furious that two main characters failed to share an important piece of information with each other – both in book 1 and here in book 2 – meaning that no one knew how important it was, I can’t be angry in this case. Because, for one, us readers are the only ones who know the true importance of that item, because the brothers never figured it out, as it seems completely inconsequential. But, also, I accept the argument Thad puts forward at the end of this book about keeping certain information to himself (after realising it’s importance; thank you for that, Flores!) because it keeps his entire family safer. Though they could figure out what was going on better if they shared their information, the logic is sound and reasonable. Especially with everything else that’s been going on with the Conclave and the mistrust brewing all over the place.

Again, the characters were interesting. I loved that we still got to see Mason and Drake, Pierce and their father, too. But we also got a whole host of new characters – the feisty Ben, Gerard making an appearance and Aiden the fire fae. They were all interesting in their own right, but some more than others and in ways I hadn’t expected.

It was also great to see new creatures, beyond the shadow weaver and vampyren’s of the first book. Here, we got to see Fae, Fire Fae, Banshees and even more of the vampyren’s. Each added a unique slant to the story and provided even more information that will bring the final pieces together eventually.

I liked the love triangle between Thad, Ben and Aiden, but I do feel that it was heavily slanted in Aiden’s favour right from the start. Thad’s connection to Ben was obviously unnatural, without either acknowledging it, while Aiden confessed to the small part that his heritage played in putting a spell around Thad on their first meeting. And, I’m sorry to say, that this was one of the reasons I lowered my rating to a 4 – I just didn’t believe the love triangle as something that Thad had to deal with. Half the time he forgot Ben even existed. Perhaps if there had been more of an equal pull between both men or we hadn’t been given so many hints towards the choice Thad would eventually make, it would have kept up the intrigue for that part of the story a little longer.

I didn’t feel the same chemistry between Thad and Ben or Thad and Aiden as Mason and Drake shared in book 1, which seems strange since there’s so much more that an older couple, not in their teens, can share in that department. It just felt a little too organised. Magically influence, even, rather than the natural progression of book 1.

With the few small issues mentioned above, I had to deduct some points from my review, despite enjoying the overall story and the continuation of the plot arc from book 1. There was still incredible world building, great characterisation, impressively wonderful writing that sucked me into the story and a whole heck of adventure and hotness to keep the fires burning.

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Favourite Quote

“And while he might in fact be a hotter version of Zachary Quinto, neither his looks nor his attitude were what had given me pause.
This guy was a warlock too.”

Book Three: Soul Struck

Length: 224
POV: Pierce, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★★

Wow! This was right on par with book 1, leaving me to believe that it’s really Thad’s frosty and wavering personality that was the problem with book 2. It’s the only one that slipped from the incredible, astounding 5 star reading that I’m becoming used to getting from Flores.

I love that my previous issues of there being far too many secrets kept between the Conclave and the protectors of the Gate were challenged, confronted and kicked into touch in this book. I love that the brash and forward Pierce was the one to put the pieces together, while everyone still believed he was too stupid to know what was going on.

Again, it was awesome to see the previous characters and their relationships getting more page time and keeping us in the loop. In this book, Pierce’s personality and attitude change was more natural, just in the same organic way that Mason’s was and was the one part of Thad’s story that I’d been missing. His relationship with Kale, just like Mason’s with Drake, was slow going and flirty before it became hot and heavy.

Gerald Wa continues to be an enigma. Part of me believes that he is on their side, but another part of me is suspicious by the secrets that even he continues to keep, while claiming amongst them all that its the Conclave’s keeping of secrets that put them in this danger. And where he gets off accusing Thad of causing danger by keeping his secret is rich, but complicates his good/evil ration even more. I feel the same confusion over the Warlock Hag, who I believe I know the identity of, but I have to wait to find out if I’m right.

I LOVED Kale. And, yes, that needs to be in caps. Kale was fun, charming, flirty and innocent in all the right ways. The same way Drake was in book 1, he grasped my heart right from the start with his feisty attitude and open ways. Most of all, I loved his naïvety, such as when they were at the Pig’s Eye and he kept spouting off about shrines, oracles and incantations. His dancing to and obsession with the Backstreet Boys was hilarious and took me back to my teen days. It was awesome!

There’s so much I want to say but can’t, because it would spoil the story. But, I loved that we got to see yet another side to the magical world that the Blackmoors are part of, with a trip to Aeaea and Kale’s appearance in such a clever and natural manner.

Again, I have to confess – I almost cried when everyone ditched Pierce at the house. It was brilliant, fun and adorable all at the same time. I couldn’t have loved the entire family more than in that moment.

The fact that I spent most of the book smiling pretty much says everything. It was fun, enchanting, exciting and cheered me up after a bad day. I couldn’t have asked for more.

~

Favourite Quote

““This music is awful,” he said. “What’s an Uma Thurman?”
I’d never wanted to shove my face through a jukebox more in my life. “Are you kidding me? This is real music, not that boy band crap you were hopping to on the dance floor.”
Kale gasped as if I punched him. “Take that back.”
“I will not,” I said with a firm shake of my head. “The Backstreet Boys are not considered music.”
“Is that that name of the group of minstrels who sang that delightful song?”
Minstrels?
“Well, is it?” he asked, arching one dark eyebrow at me.
Why did that adorable smirk make me want to do whatever he asked? I nodded, even tough I knew exactly where this was going.
“Wonderful,” he said, waving at the jukebox. “Play more of that.”
“Kale–”
He crossed his arms and tapped his foot.
Oh hell no. No one got away with tapping their foot at me, but I made the mistake of looking into Kale’s big golden eyes and noticing the cute little dimples on his cheeks.
I found another Backstreet Boys song and pressed play.”

Book Four: Spell Fall

Length: 200
POV: Drake, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★★

Boy, that was one explosive episode in the ever continuing sage of the Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge!

I loved revisiting Mason and Drake. They’re just as perfect as in book 1. Drake’s story however, took us to a brand new location, away from Blackmoor Manor, and into the heart of the witch hunter’s operational base. The revelations and secrets that journey revealed were astounding, shocking and monumental to the further plots of this series. But, at the same time, they’re so huge that I can’t tell you anything about them without ruining the story with massive spoilers, so you’re just going to have to trust that it’s amazing!

The way both Mason and Drake grew in maturity in this book was incredible. It was so well written that even the smallest hugs, glances and touches helped me understand just how much they were growing up and coming into their own. But their relationship – that was the real highlight. For two boys still in high school, their love was beautiful, strong and although Drake had doubts at certain points, he never gave in and abandoned all hope that he and Mason really are soul bound. It was lovely!

I loved the twist at the beginning of the story (which I’m only sharing because it’s in the excerpt on Dreamspinner’s website) where we’re told that there is actually one chink in Drake’s immunity to spells and magic – Mason! That was a brilliant piece of work, because after thinking about it, I realised that Mason had never once used magic against Drake, so there was no way for us to have known that until now. Genius.

I will warn you, however, that I was crying at 11% so you might need tissues for this one. Drake (and Kale) will always grab me be the feels and hold on tight. I can’t tell you what made me cry except that this quote pretty much summed up the end of my fighting against it and had me shedding those tears:
“I don’t want to be alone again.”

I’ll admit that I had a few theories about what was going on, but I was so wrong and so thrilled that I was. Finding out the truth was way more interesting when I had been expecting something else.

Although this story didn’t tie up all the loose ends, I didn’t want it to either. There was enough mystery and adventure to keep the characters and me busy enough, without adding on more weaves to untangle within its pages. I’m looking forward to reading the next few books to solve them, though, and finding out how the other characters manage to put all the pieces together.

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Favourite Quote

“My heart swelled. I might not know what was coming or where we were going, but Mason’s love was like a compass.
It would always guide me home.”

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OVERALL: The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge

This series is an incredible feat of remarkable skill; from the world building and characterisation to the depth of emotional connection between the reader and characters and the way that each book focuses on one adventure, without cancelling out or forgetting about the bigger picture, there is so much to love here.

The growth of characters that can be seen as you go from book to book – revisiting characters from the previous story in minor, but important, ways – allows the reader to appreciation the subtle changes in their attitude, the overall atmosphere of the story and the mood of each adventure, whether that be hopeless or full of belief that it will end in victory.

Each adventure takes us into a new aspect of what it’s like to be a warlock in this world, visiting other worlds, other supernatural creatures and all the chaos that comes with both. On top of that, they all have to function as regular human people, with Mason and Drake having to go to school and his brothers having college or work to complicate things.

Honestly, I’m a puzzle addict, so when there are problems like this series gave us – Who is the Warlock Hag? Who was Ica–? Who was the member of the Conclave doing shady work? What was the end goal? What was going on with the Blackmoor boys magic? – I want to figure it out before I’m told. I get very frustrated if I can’t figure it out, but I love it when I’m wrong, because it means the author got one over on me. Though, to be honest, I love it just as much when I’m right, because…hello, who wouldn’t love knowing they’re able to spot all the clues and figure out the bigger picture? Well, I ended up with a 50/50 success rate and I’m thrilled about that. It’s not often that a mystery can keep me on my toes the way this series did.

I loved the Introduction and Dramatis Personae, though I read each book one after the other. It’s a great tool that would really help readers who took time between the books or who read it as they were released. Not enough books provide this important information, especially when there is a complex weave of characters like there are in this series.

The blend of adventure, romance and magic was skillfully wrought through every page. No matter which story you pick up, you’ll find yourself hooked from page one, as you evolve with each character and move from one adventure to another, wondering just how much more these boys can take before they break or explode from the protective cocoon of the Conclave and finally see their destiny through.

Most of all, I love the refreshingly different take on soul mates that this series provides. I’m used to reading paranormal shifter, vampire and wolf stories where there are mates, soul mates and magical bonds drawing two people together. But, in this series, Flores makes it feel so much more organic and genuine than a magical force pushing two strangers together. The way that their love for their mate draws their power into focus and ramps it up a hundred degrees is such clever writing and genius world building.

This series is my new obsession and I’ll be buying them in paperback as soon as I get paid.

Don’t borrow it to ‘sample it’. Don’t go out and buy book one. BUY. THEM. ALL! Trust me. This is one series you want to binge read, one after the other.

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O-kay, I’ll confess. I checked out the website www.havenbridge.me and so should you. I took all the quizzes. In Which Magical Species Are You? I came out with Warlock. Win! Plus, I got an Active Power of water. So, double win! Oh…and BOOM! I got Kale Aquilo in Which Character from the Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge Series Are You? which is awesome, because he’s my absolute fave!

And one more awesome thing – the website tells you the information about the following books in the series and I. Am. So. Frickin’. Excited!

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