Review: Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez – Quinn’s Gambit (Aura Book 1)

quinnsAuthor: Bellora Quinn and Angel Martinez
Reviewer: Diane
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: M/M Paranormal
ISBN: 9781784304423

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary:  An unregistered, human con wizard and a duty-bound, straightlaced elf cop. As New York explodes with dangerous creatures, their passion goes nuclear.

After a terrible magical accident at Berkeley created unpredictable holes between realities—all manner of non-human creatures started popping into our world. These displacements, called RARE—Random Anomalous Reality Events—have taken magic out of fiction and relocated it firmly in reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion. Displaced elf Valerian works with AURA—the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation—to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world, helping the peaceful ones and subduing the violent, malevolent ones. It’s good, satisfying work, and Val would be happy if he wasn’t so lonely.

Quinten is a young mage just trying to get by, but New York isn’t the easiest city to make a living. If his methods are sometimes morally dubious, his heart is still in the right place. Of course for Quinn, the right place means firmly locked away, protected at all costs. Living by his wits and sometimes magically-induced luck, he works as a ‘free-lance magic user’, or unregistered mage and small time con—according to the authorities. The last thing Quinn wants is to draw the cops’ attention, but when an Event happens right on top of him, he’s forced to turn to AURA for help. Valerian isn’t at all what he’d expected in an AURA cop, and he certainly wasn’t expecting to join forces with the sexy elf, a snarky drow and a bitter incubus when certain individuals in power try to stop the RARE by any means necessary.

Things are not all what they seem at AURA headquarters, and a greater evil lurks at the top than anyone could have imagined.

A magical accident at Berkeley ha created holes between realities an all manner of non-human creatures start popping down on Earth. These displacements are referred to as RARE – Random Anomalous Reality Events. This has taken magic out of fiction, put it into our reality, resulting in a great deal of chaos and confusion, but led to the creation of AURA – the Agency of Unnatural Resettlement and Assimilation, a group of humans and non humans working together to intercept these beings as they appear in the human world to help them and the humans. Valerian is a displaced elf that works with AURA while Quinn is a young mage trying to get by, mostly as a con man with a few other magical creatures that have methods that are sometimes morally dubious!
The story is told from Valerian and Quinn’s point of view mostly, but Kai, the drow in the research department of AURA, gets a couple of chapters from his point of view as well.

Is Wow a sufficient review?!? Probably not, but that would be one of the words to come to mind for this book. Well written, incredibly imaginative, excellent pace, great chemistry between characters – whether as friend, lover, former lover or enemy! And once you get into it, it is so hard to put down.
And the concept is easy to imagine, an experiment gone wrong that pulls beings from other realms to Earth, how would they assimilate, can they get back if we can’t determine how they got here? For beings connected to nature in their homelands, if they get plunked in the middle of a city, can they survive and how do they thrive in our world?

So many interesting questions this book brings up! And in the midst of that, a young mage meeting an elf that definitely attracts him, but because of his past, he believes he is broken, but they do have a common link, loneliness. Not to mention, because Quinn’s actions are sometimes not the most above board, he usually avoids AURA officers, since they are considered police and that could get in the way of his ways of getting by, however, when he is unable to avoid the AURA office as a result of an Event, not only do they meet, but then they have a tough time not thinking about one another!

This is an amazing adventure and fantasy story, and the number of characters and creatures the authors came up with, wow! Kai, who gets to provide his point of view for a couple of the chapters, is a drow working in the research department of AURA. He and Val have a past in their world, but they mostly tolerate each other here, Kai is now mated and is very good at what he does, he’s just a bit dramatic about it. Both of those factors create the catalyst for the teamwork of humans and creatures that were once on either side of the legal fence to now work together and they include humans, elves, drow, a yeti, centaurs, griffins, wyverns, winged horses, wizards, an incubus (whose name is Sin and is a key figure in how this story plays out – yes, I ended up having a soft spot for the incubus, how appropriate!), a phoenix and a dryad that connects Val and Quinn.

And the climactic scenes? Well, I could hardly put the book down, but it also brought out the tissues because of a promise Sin had asked Quinn to make and the way it is written, you believe Quinn will have to follow through with that promise and despite being an incubus, you kind of want a happy ending for this set of characters that almost seem like a set of misfits – talented and not to be trifled with misfits!

I would recommend this book to all fantasy fans as well as anyone who has thought about reading a book in a new genre who might not have tried fantasy, it does not take place in space, but it is such a good book, I’m sure any science fiction/fantasy fans would still be satisfied, especially if they like the idea of MM pairings in that genre.
There is some violence and reference to child abuse, but it is relative to the story and not graphically described .

I can hardly wait for Book Two and where this series may take us!


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