Title: Sleight of Heart (Morality of Magick: Book One)
Author: Aisling Mancy
Publisher: CoolDudes Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 194 Pages
At a Glance: Every moment of this story is a fantasy reader’s dream.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: A vampire mage, a Romani young man, and a forbidden love that won’t be denied.
Lord Taliesin Solitaire was born albino, cursed mute by the fey, and betrayed by a vampire lover. For two hundred years the vampire mage has vowed never to love again and has only used sex as a means to a meal. Until a palm-reading gypsy finds himself in peril and Taliesin can’t resist rescuing the beautiful young man.
Pesha is the eldest but smallest son of King Vaida Sinclair, the oppressive ruler of the Kåle Romani Compania. Deemed impure by his father, Pesha is shunned and mistreated by his band and six half-brothers, and one brother in particular wants him dead. His pale, silent savior gives him safety, security and a love he never could have imagined. As Pesha falls in love with his handsome white knight, his half-brother does the unthinkable.
Can Taliesin rescue Pesha from the cruel clutches of his half-brother a second time?
Review: Anyone who is under the misconception that author Aisling Mancy does not create stories with engaging plot lines, fascinating characters who capture the imagination, and thoroughly researched ancient cultures that seem to step right out of history, obviously has not read his latest offering, Sleight of Heart. In this novel, you step into a fantasy world rich with different gifted magical creatures who instantly tug you back in time to a world where living by a strict set of standards ruled over every decision made. From gypsies to the fae, vampires to dragons, we are invited into a story that speaks of the harsh hate of bigoted minds juxtaposed with the gentle love and passion of creatures that have been mindlessly feared throughout time. What a stunning novel Sleight of Heart turned out to be.
Two men, princes in their own right but living such vastly different lives as to make them appear worlds apart, are the focus of the story. Living in fear of his own brothers who take every opportunity to belittle, mock, and yes, sexually abuses him, Pesha lives a tortured life. Not fully Romani but a mixed breed, Pesha is noticeably physically different from his half brothers–both small and delicate in appearance. Still, he is a prince who lives under the iron fist of his father, the King, and as such he must hide his love of men and work hard to pay the penalty for his very existence. Every night he ventures onto the boardwalk to read palms and ply his tarot cards in order to earn money he must give to his father, or feel his wrath and beatings. Lately, he has caught the eye of another creature of the night–one cloaked in mystery who grapples with a broken heart.
Lord Taliesin Solitaire is a striking figure. Born with the rare genetic anomaly that causes albinism and later turned vampire against his will, he carries a deep grief over the death of the man he loved some two-hundred years before. If asked to label himself, Taliesin would confess to have loved both women and men, but prefers men overall. However, the memories of his one and only male lover prevent him from doing little more than using consenting women for both feeding and sexual release. His is an empty life until he meets the small, beautiful Romani prince. It will be a violent event that brings the two men together, and forges a bond that is both rich in love and passion but is forbidden by most everyone. But the heart knows what it needs, and Pesha and Taliesin only have eyes for each other and their partnering affects emotional healing in both of them. As cultural norms and fear of abandonment by his compania threaten to overwhelm Pesha, it is a direct threat against a former lover and friend that draws him back to his brutal family. Fearing for Taliesin and his safety as well, Pesha leaves the side of the man he loves, only to step into a danger that may very well see him forfeit his life in order to save those he loves.
Aisling Mancy writes with such lyrical beauty and passion that one cannot help but be swept up into his stories and embrace his characters as living breathing realities. The courtship between Pesha and Taliesin was swift in terms of time (barely a week), and yet still a thing of magic to behold. As they discover each other physically, they begin to trust each other completely and realize that their passion extends beyond the physical into a place where neither can contemplate an existence without the other. But fear of reprisal from his violent half-brother, Merripen, strikes deep into the core of everything Pesha cares for and prompts his departure from Taliesin’s side. There are some violent moments in this novel–some off page and merely remembered. But one in particular, an attempted rape scene that includes non-consensual oral sex, may disturb or trigger some readers. However, please know that this scene is integral to the plot and handled with extreme care. Never written for mere titillation but rather drafted to anchor the real threat and horror that besets Pesha daily in the compania, the horrors his brothers inflict on him make the love he has discovered himself capable of for Taliesin that much more beautiful.
Every moment of this story is a fantasy reader’s dream. From the intricate world building and cultural nuances to the simple yet passionate love that rises between our two main characters, we are immersed in a magical world inhabited by riveting people and creatures. I can say no more than this: I highly recommend Sleight of Heart to you and hope you enjoy this marvelous story as much as I did.
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1 thought on “Review: Sleight of Heart by Aisling Mancy”
Thank you for the wonderful review, Sammy! <3