Series: Jak & Leander book 1
Author: Devin Harnois
Publisher: October Night Publishing
Publication date: May 18, 2018
Length: 245 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
Leander Weatherford doesn’t want a mage, but he needs one. Enchanted mechanical animals are all the rage among the upper classes, and selling them will save his struggling family business. Enter Jak, whose enchanting ability is second only to his talent for flirting. It’s dangerous to keep such a tempting man close, but Leander can’t resist—in more ways than one.
Jak needs money to continue his aimless life of running. A partnership with Leander provides both income and a lovely diversion. Their masterful creations catch the attention of an eccentric baroness who offers them an enormous sum for an ambitious project—a full-scale mechanical dragon.
Swept into a life rubbing elbows with nobility, Leander is pleased but overwhelmed. Spending both workdays and evenings with Jak, he finds himself drawing closer to the charming mage. But Jak is hiding a dangerous secret, and the truth could tear them apart
The whole idea of hiring a mage unnerves Leander but enchanted mechanical animals are all the rage and being able to sell them would mean leveling up from the proletariat class his family is now struggling in to a more lucrative and stable living. Leander builds beautiful mechanical works of art but taking that next step and having them come alive, so to speak, will draw the attention of the nobility class and make it so that Leander can assure his brother and sister will have a good education and his father and grandmother will be financially secure—not to mention make his business successful once again. But the first mage that answers Leander’s ad is not only younger than he expected but a huge flirt—and somehow unafraid of anyone Leander recognizes as their better. So Leander takes a chance with Jak but little does he ever guess that it will not only be his business that he puts into Jak’s magical hands but his heart as well.
Jak is on the run. He is a deserter having left his home and the battlefield after the level of disgust and shame overwhelms him at the sight of so many lives lost by his magic. Jak doesn’t only have the ability to call forth spirits who wish to live within the gorgeously constructed machinery Leander constructs but the mage also controls fire at will—something that makes him lethally dangerous. But he is done with killing for a land that wishes nothing more than to greedily invade others and take what is not theirs. With Leander he can create something of beauty and magic and even if he may not be staying for very long he can enjoy being with Leander despite the man’s belief that love between two men is wrong.
Devin Harnois has created an incredibly complex and fascinating steampunk world in his novel Mages & Mechanisms. A land where someone with mechanical skill such as Leander can create clockwork machinery and whimsical creatures for sell. The only problem is that in this era of all things mechanical, the wealthy aren’t just interested in beauty and fine craftmanship—they want magic—pets to keep at their sides that are made of metals with elements of gold and silver woven in. That means Leander must hire a mage—something that he is loath to do—not only because he fears them but also because he lost his mother to their craft during the war she fought in.
But he must do it if he is to make a living in his shop and possibly be able to move up in the society’s class structure that determines who is successful. Not in his wildest imagination did he ever expect someone as brash and wild as Jak. Jak sparks something deep within Leander-feelings he has kept dark and buried for shame of being exposed as a man who loves other men—something that only the highest of nobility seem to be able to get away with indulging in. For everyone else, being found out as such could spell disaster for their business and private lives. But Jak makes Leander want so very much and before long the two men are embroiled in an affair that sees them falling deeper in love with every passing day.
There was so much to enjoy in this novel. First the world building was incredible—from the steampunk overtones to the various class levels and the intricate animals that Leander builds, I was utterly fascinated by the whole idea of a world where some would have a mechanical pet at their beck and call. For instance, Little Silver, a cat Lee and Jak create is just adorable and the next creature they create after that is amazing. But it was the marvelous relationship that builds between the two men that really captured me. I loved that Jak was a bit of a scoundrel and informed anyone who would listen as such. I was so glad that the author chose not to have Jak turn away from his old ways of ‘love em and leave em’ so quickly just to be with Leander. Instead Harnois chose to allow Jak to grow and mature; to fall in love and see the value of not bedding anyone else. That didn’t stop him from flirting though and that to was critical to the authenticity of his character.
This was a slow burn of a romance with incredibly erotic yet tame sex scenes—they were intimate and sensual but not necessarily graphic. Just enough was described to give us the full impact of how important each moment together with Jak physically and mentally impacted Lee who was very deep in the closet and vehemently denying his sexuality. I loved watching these two men change and their love develop.
Mages & Mechanisms is an outstanding steampunk fantasy novel and its sequel is about to be released. Suffice it to say I cannot wait to enjoy the next visit with Jak and Leander.
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