Review – Carnal Magic (The Wraith Accords #1) by Lila DuBois

Carnal Magic cover image

Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher

What if the one you wanted more than any other was the only one you couldn’t trust?

The Wraith Accords, Book 1

Two hundred years after the Tuatha de Danaan and Vampires formed a fragile alliance, the Wraith Accords are unraveling. Isabel Santiago is a leader in one of the most powerful of the vampire cabals, and she agrees to join the Fae court as a gesture of goodwill—and damage control.

While Aed mac Goll’s loyalty to Fae is absolute, he’s never supported the accords which gave the Vampires sanctuary and restored the Tuatha de’s link to humanity. The very idea he could desire an undead human is unthinkable, yet he’s drawn to Isabel’s dark beauty and fierce intelligence.

Despite their mutual mistrust, they soon find themselves lost in a dangerous game of lust and power. When the treaty shatters amid calls for Isabel’s head, Aed realizes their connection is more than physical. And to save it, they’ll have to unravel a mystery that’s been a thousand years in the making.
This blurb came from the author’s website.

I have soft spots for Vampires and Fae so when I read this blurb about a treaty between deadly enemies, an ambassador/emissary “hostage”, and intrigue I had to request this story. I found it an interesting beginning to what could be a rather entertaining series but I thought the transition from lust to romance was weaker than the world-building but showed definite promise.

Aed is a loyal guard who has never been faced to question his loyalties or consider what choices he would make if he found out those he served were harming the Tuatha de Danaan instead of leading them. Yet when he met Isabel everything he knew for certain came into doubt. He discovered things were not as they seemed among the ruling family or even the higher houses. He also discovered being used as a tool and learning those he trusted didn’t have his same levels of honor and ethics meant some of the Tuatha were involved in more than the usual games of power. I enjoyed watching Aed attempt to deal with Isabel, how different she was from his preconceived notions, and how different the world was outside of the court but I was afraid his feelings for her were primarily due to how different she was from the Tuatha.

Isabel was the equivalent of a Tuatha princess within her vampire cabal and in that position had some important responsibilities so she was sent to the Tuatha not as an unarmed ignorant emissary but as someone on a mission to both try to preserve the treaty and to bring back information. However, nothing prepared her for Aed, the Tuatha culture of power and pain, unsophisticated attempts to discredit her and her people, or the instability within Tuatha itself. I liked her interactions with the Tuatha and others but found her jump from meeting Aed to mind-blowing sex to love a bit too sudden between two individuals raised as barely allies if not hidden enemies.

Aed and Isabel were an interesting combination. They were both loyal to their people and attracted to each other but never once really questioned if their attraction was a betrayal to their people. Instead due to different cultures and a lack of understanding instead they perceived some of each other’s actions as a personal betrayal and had to work through those situations. I enjoyed seeing them work together as they tried to determine what was wrong and who was behind the collapse of the treaty. I also had several laughs as Isabel got a little of her own back at Aed when he wasn’t in the Tuatha court but in her familiar territory. Yet I was never able to see their almost immediate attraction transition to love so I was surprised when love was mentioned. I could see respect, some friendship, admiration, and certainly sexual attraction but I did not see the love connection. Hopefully as this series continues, DuBois will show their relationship deepening and growing so I can believe in their HEA.

I thought the world was rather complex. There appeared to be at least three different realms/places – the Fae lands, Earth, and an area set aside for the Vampires – but mention was made of another area and I wasn’t sure if it was part of the Fae lands or separate. It was refreshing to see the Tuatha appear to be the crueler of the races instead of the Vampires but much less of Vampire culture was shown. I think something rotten and highly concerning was happening in the middle of the Fae Court that had reverberating effects across DuBois’s world which were beginning to be felt in different ways. I am curious to discover what is at the center of the upheaval and what the cost will be to fix things.

Carnal Magic was an intriguing series opener with some flaws. I thought the romance arc was underdeveloped so I hope the emotional growth between the main characters is brought out more in the next installment. The world was fascinating and I think the linkage between humans, Vampires, and the Tuatha is going to prove rather intriguing as the series continues. I am also curious about what other secrets the Fae are hiding and if the Vampires are really the image of light against the concealed darkness of the Fae.

I give Carnal Magic a B-

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