At last! I think that this Etta James classic is the first thing that came to my mind when K.F. Breene’s traditional slow burn (if you read any of her series, you know what I’m talking about) exploded in fireworks in Magical Midlife Love, her latest book and the fourth of the Leveling Up series. No, Jessie and Austin sealing the deal is no spoiler, since we knew it would happen at some point after the previous book’s case of the readers blue balls (which I mentioned in my review). Then again, I am leaving it at that, because the rest would include spoilers. Although this is only a small part of what happens in what is probably the best book of this amazing series, so far.
But where are my manners?
What the book is about
A new, extremely powerful mage answering Jessie’s last summons, a bizarre game, the return of a familiar foe, life at Ivy House is all but boring, as always.
If we add the visit of Jessie’s son, a new summons which could go awry for the whole team, ploys for power, a mage’s invitation, Austin stepping on his pride and asking help from his brother, and an event making the Alpha finally acknowledging his feelings for Ivy House’s heir, and the stage is set for a whole new book full of action of all kinds!
She’s got the power
Those who read the series since the beginning (which I cannot recommend enough) are aware that Jacinta has inherited an enormous amount of power on the day that she accepted Ivy House’s magic, and her role as the heir, but that despite Edgar and the team’s best efforts, she needed another mage’s help in order to channel it and develop her abilities (after all, she is a former Jane).
Enter Sebastian, an extremely powerful mage who takes some time away from his current job with another powerful mage, whom he literally cannot name, to help Jessie work to master her enormous abilities, and she is able to improve in new and incredible ways.
But this bizarre, constantly staring, and socially awkward mage has secrets of his own. After all, he does have an employer whom he is not able to name. However, his power, his help, his genuine curiosity towards the shifters, and his knowledge of the mages who, as was predicted the moment Jess accepted Ivy House’s magic, come courting her, turn him into an asset that Jessie might want to keep by her side, if she could only offer him more than he is receiving from his current employer.
Mages vs shifters
There is a form of racism in the magical world, which comes out in full force in Magical Midlife Love: that of the mages towards the shifters. For a mutual dislike it isn’t. Yes, shifters hate mages, but it is because the mages have destroyed entire packs for considering shifters as lowly beings. Who wouldn’t hate those who persecute them?
In that, as in many of the things that he does, we realise that Austin Steele is a rare exception among the shifters. All this thanks to Jess, who turns out to be a perfect ambassador between the two kinds, especially as far as Sebastian is concerned, when she makes him discover that shifters are not as bad as he was raised to believe, despite scaring the bejesus out of him. Difficult not to be scared when seeing an enormous polar bear intent on defending his territory, or those who answer Jessie’s new summons. (I would be, too!)
Love in all its forms
I mentioned Jessie and Austin in the introduction, but theirs is not the only kind of love that we see in the book.
There is, of course, the mother and son love between Jessie and Jimmy (much more open than his grandparents were!), which I can only hope we will see more of. But there is the brotherly love between Austin and Kingsley, the grandfatherly love that Mr. Tom has for Jimmy, and all the friendships and loyalties between the characters, which is only enhanced in the book, much to our hilarity at times, and our hearts melting at others.
There is, however, one match which I would stan: Mr. Tom and Niamh, who give the expression “lâchez-vous ou mariez-vous” (leave each other alone or marry each other) all its meaning. The banter between the two many times had me nearly dying with laughter.
Friends and foes
Sasquatch is back! I seriously missed that character in Magical Midlife Invasion, but he makes quite the return in Magical Midlife Love, and as a bonus, we also get to learn a little more about him. He really is the perfect frienemy.
However, the friendly I love the most seeing is definitely the Basajaun, whose name we still don’t know, but who is always there when there is a battle to be fought… and magical flowers to be savoured.
I said it before, but it bears repeating: K.F. Breene’s storytelling and character development are all sorts of fabulous! This book is no different. No cliffhanger, but a reveal that caught me off-guard, unexpected as it was, leaving me with questions which I hope will find their answer in the next book of the series, Magical Midlife Meeting, the long-awaited confrontation between Jessie and Elliot Graves. But patience we must again have, as the book will be released only on 21 May.
Plenty of time for new readers to fall for the series, or for me to reread the whole down the road.
Another magical five stars! ✰✰✰✰✰