Erryn reviews ‘Mastering the Flames (Beacon Hill Sorceror, Book 4)’ by SJ Himes. The book was released October 4, 2019 and is 396 pages. The audiobook was narrated by Joel Leslie was released on June 16, 2020 and is 14hrs and 52mins. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Guilt-ridden after the massacre of his family, Isaac Salvatore turned to binge drinking to escape the pain. Now 24 years old, Isaac is a recovering alcoholic woefully out of practice in the magical arts, leaving his fire affinity hanging on the edge of disaster. After a month of rehab, he returns to Beacon Hill and his family, determined to remain sober, learn to control his magic, and figure out a plan for his life that doesn’t involve drinking.
Constantine Batiste is the oldest, most powerful vampire in the city. Born in ancient Gaul, the bastard son of a Celtic king, his long life has been shrouded in tragedy and horrors. Recent mistakes have left him wary and determined to guard his clan from all foes. When two of his clan members fall victim to an ancient evil, he summons the Necromancer of Boston for aid. Accompanying his older brother to the Tower is the handsome young fire mage once wounded by Constantine’s arrogance, and their encounter reignites an attraction that burns within both Constantine and Isaac.
Erryn’s Review –
First I’ll admit to owning but not having listened to the first three instalments in this series and now I’m definitely thinking I should have made the time. That being said, when a Joel Leslie audio presents itself, I’m in (he did the previous three so don’t mind my inconsistency). Okay, now that I’ve got that admission out of the way, let me dive in.
This book is a behemoth. Clocking in at fifteen hours, it takes dedication to listen but it is totally worth it. It is packed with action mixed with romance with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure. It’s vampires and mages and all kings of other creatures (I’m still not sure I understand what a golum is…)
At the heart of this story lies a tender romance. The first three books were about Angelo Salvatore the Necormancer and Simeon the vampire. They make a compelling couple to be sure. This book, however, centers around Angel’s younger brother Isaac. The fuck up of the family, so to speak. The one who just can’t seem to get it right. Since the book begins with him in rehab, you know, as a reader, you’re in for some powerful kicks to the gut – and you get them. Anyone who has ever struggled with addiction, or watched a loved one suffer, will relate to this. But Isaac has turned a corner in his life and is determined to make it.
Constantine Batiste is the head vampire in Boston, responsible for all of the undead. We get to know his backstory that was quite fascinating. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to find he’s only 26, but I was. Of course tack on two millennia of being a vampire and age all becomes relative. He and Isaac make a connection that is powerful, but the question is always will it be enough? Also, Isaac is a blood mage and blood mages are very helpful to vampires seeing as they can screen the donor blood supply (who knew there was a blood supply for vampires?). Angelo is constantly questioning Batiste’s motives, but Isaac sees through all that to the man who wins his heart. As I said, at the heart of this action book is a love story. This story is redemptive as Isaac tries to make up for all the stuff he put his family through.
I really enjoyed this book and definitely plan to start the series from the beginning. Now on to Joel Leslie. One of my favorite narrators, he delivers a grand performance. He has a multitude of accents to provide including the Boston accent that he hit so beautifully it made me think of John F. Kennedy. The combination of Ms. Himes’ writing and Mr. Leslie’s performance made the fifteen hours fly by. Well worth the time and money investment.
Oh, and I quickly have to mention Eroch the dragon. Because, oh my god, how cute was he?
Erryn’s Rating –
10/10 Pots of Gold – Compares to 5/5 Stars
I’m a thirty something bisexual cisgendered woman with way too big an imagination, but that comes in handy when I’m writing. I have been writing since I was a child, when I took a four page assignment on what I was going to do on summer vacation and turned it into a 100 page fantasy epic all written by hand…in crayons. No joke.
I work a day job, but I can’t share for who, since the Old Man isn’t as liberated as the people who read my books. I’m married, I have furbabies, and I live with loved ones. I adore a certain show about a British consulting detective and his grumpy army doctor, and that spawned an addiction to Johnlock fanfiction, which then evolved into me writing it. Gawd, that’s embarrassing. Put this down in the TMI section of my Bio, okay? I enjoy martial arts, movies where things blow up, and I wish I lived in a Marvel movie.
I live in the beautiful and lonely Berkshire County in Massachusetts, and I see way more wildlife than I care to on a daily basis (bears!). My perfect day is reading surrounded by friends and family who don’t think it’s odd I want to hang out but not talk, and my favorite scent of all time is a cool fall evening with leaves burning….less a scent, and more of an experience.
My writing is focused on gay and lesbian people, who are more than interesting side characters that hang out with the heterosexual MCs. My wish for the future is that when people ask me what I do for a living, I can say, “I write gay romance,” and NOT get weird looks.