Review: Beholden by Kris T. Bethke

Julian Thomas made the unpopular decision to become Beholden and focus his magic only on scrying. Because of it, he's the best at his job and the top scryer for the Department of Extranormal and Magical Affairs. Which why Investigations Agent Wes Caldwell goes right to Julian for help locating a missing person.

When Wes needs to use his magic to boost Julian's, they find a magical resonance between them that quickly leads to more. Julian doesn't want to move too fast, but Wes knows Julian is it for him. He's fine with waiting, as long as Julian stays close as they work through it.

But then Julian falls ill, and it's clear there's a magical reason. Wes will stop at nothing to find out what's plaguing Julian, and when they realize just how deep the plot goes, they have more questions than answers. Magic is increasing in the world, and no one can figure out why. Julian and Wes have found love, but will it be enough to get them through what's to come?

It’s not a secret that I like Bethke for her straightforward realistic and natural progression of how she writes her romance. I’m not typically all for insta-love or a lot of waffling, but I felt this veered a bit towards that and it was just a little underdeveloped than what I usually get from this author.

Definite points for an interesting AU that reminded me of Harry Potter where all in this world can do some form of magic which is an integral part of their daily lives. Some choose to coalesce all their power into one skill, and MC Julian has done just that, focusing his abilities on being able to find things whether they’re abstract or concrete.

One day while diligently working his job at the Department of Extranormal and Magical Affairs, Julian helps two investigators with their case and is intensely and immediately drawn to the handsome Wes. The feels are instantaneous, but Julian is level headed enough to realize it’s just lust and resists Wes’s overtures despite an initial lapse in control. However, someone or something is affecting Julian’s magic, draining him of his powers as quickly as he uses it. Good thing his “connection” to Wes also encompasses a magical affinity, and they complement each other quite nicely. This allows Wes to refuel Julian’s empty reserves easily while both work together to find out what’s going on personally and globally, as immense magical surges hint that sinister machinations are at work.

Bethke hardly ever skimps on the smex, and this was no different. Though it doesn’t explicitly say that this is a series, I can’t see how it’s not, as it definitely ends on a note where certain things were left a-dangling. However, like I said, the development of feels, plot points, and world building was just a tad lacking. For me, that is not the author’s typical MO, so it was incongruous from what I usually get.

Overall, I liked this despite the vibe that it was more a 3rd or 4th draft than a finished piece. Regardless, this will not deter me from reading more!

Thank you to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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