Author: Kaje Harper
Publisher: M/M Romance Group
Cover Artist: Ren Brennan
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
First I was a sorcerer. Then I was a hermit. For so long—for years that seemed to go on forever—I couldn’t bear to be touched. I put up not just walls but whole stone bunkers to keep everyone out, emotionally, and physically as well. I was protected from people, from ghosts, from specters real and imagined. Sure, I was alone. But I felt safe. Only, after a while, I wasn’t sure any longer whether a totally “safe” empty life was really worth living.
Then Tobin came along. Out of the blue, out of my past, with a summons from the king that he wouldn’t let me ignore. I tried to cling to my isolation, but he wouldn’t give up on me. Tobin never believed in walls.
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love Has No Boundaries” event. Any author royalties from this story will be donated to the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project (GMDVP).
Lyon is a sorcerer with a tragic past. Demons haunt him, causing him to turn away from the world in self-imposed isolation. Alone by choice and terrorized by haunting events from his youth, he uses his skill with languages to eke out a meager living with little exposure outside the stone walls of his home. When his childhood friend Tobin arrives at his door with a summons to assist the king, his comfortable seclusion is shattered as he embarks on an adventure that will change his life forever–if he survives it.
I don’t read much fantasy. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy it; rather, it’s simply a genre I don’t normally choose. This title intrigued me, however, and I ashamedly confess that I have had this title on my Kindle for nearly a year and a half. I am so glad I had the opportunity to review it, as it has opened the door a bit wider for me to explore the genre and reminded me of why I enjoy Kaje Harper’s writing so much.
There are many elements I loved about this book, but I would like to start with the way I was drawn into this secondary world. Ms. Harper pulled me into it immediately with a gratifying hook that made me think, “Oh, yes, this is going to be good!” She did a wonderful job of building a fascinating world not unlike what our own Medieval times may have felt like, with the addition of generous doses of sorcery, ghosts, kingdoms, and romance. It is smartly written with clarity and delicious details that vividly describe this magical setting and the characters that inhabit it. I was completely immersed within its realm and pulled along by compelling events and the characters’ engaging personalities.
Lyon is a heartbreaking soul who is suffering from past trauma that has kept him a virtual prisoner in his own home. His coping mechanisms are harsh and difficult to witness, yet he is such a captivating character, it is impossible not to be immediately drawn to him and wish for his healing and comfort. Ms. Harper is skilled at drawing a personality that is hurt to the point of debilitation and desperate for relief from the demons that haunt him. His history unfolds slowly at first, as guarded as the man himself, then flashes of horrid memories reveal themselves, burning hotly upon the page.
Without giving too much away, there is growth and healing here. Lyon is taken on an adventure when he must answer a summons from his king delivered by his long lost childhood friend Tobin, now a close advisor to the Crown. Tobin must carefully dismantle Lyon’s walls in order to bring him out of his shell and lead him back into life again. His patience and genuine affection for Lyon are endearing, and he is truly a protector and a knight in shining armor as he gently works his way past Lyon’s defenses and guides him out into the world and into reluctant service to the king. Their scenes together are by turns humorous, emotional, and sometimes distressing, yet they are honest and reflect the trust and understanding that builds within the relationship.
Overall, Nor Iron Bars a Cage is a lovely story that beautifully balances whimsy and romance with dark sorcery and suffering. With its endearing characters, its high sense of adventure, and an exciting, chilling climax that moves gently into a satisfying and touching epilogue, it is a wonderful tale that I am more than happy to recommend.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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