Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “As long as you stay here, you have a home. I’ll never abandon you.”
Hugh D’Ambray has been cut loose by his master and pseudo-father, Roland. He wallows in the booze until his will to live and need to save his people overrides his death wish. With no money, shelter, or weapons, the Iron Preceptors have no hope of surviving the necromancers that are gunning for them. Until his advisor approaches him with a proposition. A marriage of convenience to one they call the White Lady.
Elara Harper just wants to keep her people safe. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Elara knows there is a war coming and they are right in the middle of it. She needs help and if she has to make a deal with the devil to get one…then so be it.
Hugh needs a home. Elara needs a weapon. And they need to make this relationship as believable as possible if they want to survive what’s coming for them.
Sometimes the devil is in the details.
Iron and Magic, first in the Iron Covenant trilogy, spins off the Kate Daniels series and runs concurrently with book 9 in the KD world-Magic Binds. Hugh d’Ambray has been disavowed by Roland and he and his people are being hunted down and killed by Landon Nez, Roland’s Necromancer. Hugh needs a miracle and it comes in the form of a witch whose own reputation is as sketchy as Hugh’s.
I will be the first to admit I was skeptical when I first heard this story idea. Anyone can write a story of redemption, the trick is not only making the redeeming believable but getting your readers to buy it. Hugh D’Ambray; Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, Nemesis to Kate Danials, has to be one of urban fantasy’s top unredeemable men. First seen in book 3-Magic Strikes, he reappears like a bad penny in Magic Rises and Magic Breaks. Rescued by Roland as a child and trained by Voron, Hugh has strength, power, skill, and an unimaginable ego that Kate has repeatedly trampled on. He has committed some unspeakable acts against Kate, Curren, and their friends and his jealousy of Kate and what she represents is what got him in the mess he’s in now.
“You’ve failed me, Hugh. I have no further use for you.”
The prologue offers us a look into Hugh’s backstory. We learn why he worshipped Roland and blindly followed his lead. We see what led to his downfall and then the story begins with how he has chosen to survive. Is this a story of redemption? No. I think it is more of a rebuilding. Hugh d’Ambray has had his entire life ripped from him. He has hit rock bottom and now must crawl up and out of his hole to keep promises a23wq21`
“The bottle of moonshine called to him. He didn’t have to turn around to know exactly where it was, tempting him to do what severed limbs did-wither and rot. And while he rotted, his people would die one by one. No. No, he owned Nez a debt. He was Hugh d’Ambray. Preceptor of the Iron Dogs. The Dogs paid their debts.”
Hugh needs a miracle…and her name is Elara Harper.
“Who will I be marrying?”
“The White Warlock.”
“You want me to marry a man?”
Elara is an Andrews heroine through and through. Strong, bold, opinionated, powerful, kick arse, and untrusting. Considered an abomination by some and a God by others, she is responsible for hundreds and takes that very seriously. Living in an old castle on an estate smack dab between Roland and Kate’s power bases, Elara knows what is coming and knows the humans under her care will not survive these two heavyweights. A witch of unimaginable power, she is the monster under the bed…the bogeyman used to scare little kids into being good. While she does have a moral code of sorts, it revolves around those under her care. She is a wild card in this series and I am more than ready to discover everything about her.
“She had to teach d’Ambray who she was. The White Warlock. Unclean. Cursed. An abomination. They would come to this meeting tables as equals, and if they chose an alliance, she had to make sure they left as equals.”
I loved Hugh and Elara and I appreciated the care taken to develop them as individuals and a couple. I didn’t come into this story expecting Kate and Curren 2.0 and I was pleased care was taken to make sure there would be no mistaking this couple for anyone but themselves. The old saying, “God made then and the Devil matched them,” describes them perfectly. A relationship built on antagonism and lots of snark, I laughed so hard as this couple bickered, threatened, fought, insulted, and demanded concessions from one another. Elara and Hugh are a lot alike in that their loyalty can be deadly and they will do what it takes to survive. This couple will burn down the world and everyone in it who stands between them and their loved ones. No self-sacrifice in their make up.
Their evolution from strangers to friends is slow and well worth the wait. Both have been betrayed by those they cared for; tossed aside and threatened for their gifts. They have…issues and enough baggage to stock a Samsonite store. The sexual tension is quite intense and the one small sex scene is perfect in its resolve to stay true to this couple’s nature.
Some new and some very familiar faces are seen here as Hugh and Elara prepare for Nez and eventually Roland. I enjoyed meeting the Iron Dogs and seeing them as people with their own hopes, dreams, and desires. Elara’s people are just as interesting and look forward to learning more about their own gifts. Though Kate and Curren are referenced multiple times, we don’t see them. This is not their story. Color me surprised when Raphael and Andrea pay an unexpected visit to the castle. We even get a visit from Roland though it did NOT go the way he planned. *fist pump* I can’t wait for Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels series) and the next book in this series.
I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!!
Once again, Ilona Andrews have used their powers for good and wrote a story that is what Urban Fantasy strives to be. Action packed with intrigue, suspense, adventure, danger, laughter, sadness, and a cast of characters whose energy and spirit drags you right along with them as they prime their swords and sharpen their tongues for the next battle.