Book Reviews

Forged in Fire (Asheville Arcana 2) by Rachel Langella

Genre Gay / Urban Fantasy / Elves/Fairies/Sidhe / Magic / Shifters / Vampires / Wizards & Witches / Romance / Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Reviewed by Christy Duke on 16-October-2020

Book Blurb

For three hundred years, Harlan Edgewood’s monthly shifts have been agonizing. Then he meets Whimsy Hickes—a mage who specializes in transformation—and the attraction is both immediate and mutual. But Harlan takes refuge in denial, believing his curse is too great a burden to inflict on any lover.

But Whimsy knows he can help.

When Harlan is provoked into an unexpected transformation, Whimsy uses his magic to ease Harlan’s pain, but with an unexpected consequence. While he’s shifted, Harlan’s wolf recognizes Whimsy as his mate.

Yet even as they try to figure out their relationship given Harlan’s doubts, suspicious events in the Asheville magical community escalate. Shifters are disappearing, others are murdered, and Harlan’s curse makes him an obvious target. It will take all of Whimsy’s magic to drive back the rising evil—and if he fails, Harlan will lose not only his life, but his very soul.



First edition published under author name Ari McKay by Dreamspinner Press, May 2018.

Book Review

It’s nice to return to Asheville although I sure wish it were literally and not figuratively. The thought of the cool mountain air, the green lushness, and the beauty all around brought such comfort as I read this second installment from a writer I adore. I was intrigued by Harlan being a lycanthrope versus a born werewolf and, of course, I already liked Whimsy from reading Eli and Arden’s tale. I had a feeling these two men were going to shake a few things up.

Harlan is, indeed, a fascinating man. Several centuries old, he was raised as a Quaker and still holds to many of their beliefs. He is a member of Tharn’s werewolf pack but he knows he’s an outsider even there. Harlan can’t shift at will because he wasn’t born a shifter and most werewolves don’t care for lycanthropes. He is a park ranger with Eli and they have a good friendship but Harlan still feels very separated from humans and other paranormals. When he is invited back to Eli’s for dinner and meets Arden and Whimsy, he is overwhelmed by the kindness of these people especially Whimsy who, as a mage with a specialty in transfiguration and transmutation, offers to help Harlan during his next full moon shift to see if he can lessen Harlan’s pain.

“Whimsy stared at Harlan, feeling as if something had broken in his brain. “Are you saying you’re a three-hundred-year-old virgin?”
Harlan’s face flamed. “You don’t understand! The way I was raised, we didn’t have relations outside of marriage. Then I was bitten, and I left my home and family because I was ashamed. I’m not ashamed anymore, but I don’t let myself get close. I don’t let myself want that.”

The scene where Harlan realizes Whimsy is his mate and then they talk about what that means? Be. Still. My. Heart. I had tears in my eyes at the beauty and the romance of it all. In fact their entire courtship, if you will, was so well done. Harlan is over 300 years old and has never had a date, and his first kiss was with Whimsy. Whimsy is twenty-eight although he’ll live a long time because of his magic, and from the moment he meets Harlan he has an overwhelming desire to protect and care for the large man who has been so alone.

Even though Eli, Arden, Julien, and Whimsy defeated the demon who had possessed Eli’s pack in the first installment of this series, they weren’t able to capture all of the possessed werewolves and they’ve returned. There’s a new demon in town sending his minions out into the woods to search for an artifact that my guys are trying to get to first. Much like before, no one knows what the demon’s plan is, what it wants, or how to defeat it.

I very much enjoyed Whimsy and Harlan’s love story. I liked that the focus was more on their developing romance and not as much on fighting the possessed shifters, the evil mage, and the demon, although those portions were very well done. I suspect there’ll be more to come with the mystery surrounding the lost cauldron in Julian’s story. I’m very much looking forward to the next in the series as I think whoever turns out to be the “one” for Julian is going to have his hands full!





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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 197 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 15-October-2020
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link