Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.
Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.
3 "Conflicted and Addicted" Stars
Reliquary is the first book in Sarah Fine's Reliquary trilogy, an adult urban fantasy that blends magic, lies, sex, and action into an addictive guilty pleasure read. The synopsis pretty much covers the premise of this story, so I'm going to jump right in with my thoughts.
At first, I'll admit to being rather unimpressed. While the world was fresh and intriguing, I was a little confused by the different classes of magical powers. There's sniffers, or sensors, that can ferret things out (magic, emotion, ect), conduits (no magic powers, but can funnel magic into objects or people), reliquaries (no magic powers, but can carry and store magic in their bodies), and then there's those naturally gifted with different kinds of magic, such as pain, manipulation, lust, and one or two others. That part I understood, but the names for the natural magic people had me confused, and struggling to remember which was which.
Then there was Mattie herself. Let me tell you, it's been a very long time since I'd read a heroine as naive, sheltered, and downright frustrating as Mattie was for the first 60% or so of this book. She reminded me of Mac during the first two books of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series; the same sheltered, immature, self-pitying and entitled traits that Mac had were prevalent in Mattie, and had me drawing quite the parallel to Fever. Mattie lacked Mac's stronger characteristics, such as confidence, fire, and adaptability, and for the majority of the book she read so damn young. If I didn't know better, I would've pegged her for a YA heroine, rather than an adult of at least 25.
She did redeem herself a bit at the 60% mark and beyond, and I enjoyed her more so in the second book, so I'm glad to have kept going.
My next issue was with Ben, Mattie's fiancé. What a tool, seriously. He was so damn smarmy that it made my skin crawl. Every time he was on the page, I wanted to smack him upside the head.
He's addicted to the high that magic brings him, and has used magically infused items of compulsion and lust on Mattie for the course of their relationship. And she wasn't hardly mad about that!!!!
It sounds like I didn't like this book at all, but that wasn't the case! Let's talk about what I did enjoy.
I can't believe I'm going to say this, but there is a love triangle, and I didn't mind it. Me, the queen of anti-love triangles! I thought it was done in a way so as not to be infuriating, and introduced early enough that the reader sort of follows along with Mattie, rather than growing attached to a specific love interest right off the bat. Mattie's chemistry with Asa was intriguing and sexy, and he was the total opposite of Ben. Despite my dislike of Ben, Mattie's commitment to him was admirable, and palpable throughout the book.
Then there was Asa. Initially, I was a little skeptical on him, but as the story wore on, I was more and more interested. He's definitely a bad boy, and I'm a sucker for them. He was ballsy, kind of a dick, talented, and I wanted to know more about him. Plus, he had a Pit Bull he absolutely adored, and there's few things sexier than a man that treats his dog that way.
There were a few surprise bits of information about Asa that I did not see coming, and I was happy to be a bit blindsided by them. It definitely added some bold layers to his character.
The process of getting magic from an object into a reliquary was absolutely fascinating, and doubly so when it was Mattie and Asa together. Their chemistry during those scenes was off the charts, and the give and take of control was delightfully kinky and unexpected. It's not for everyone, but my dirty hussy mind was quite happy about that flying of the freak flag.
I personally think this would make an awesome TV series, haha.
Like I said, it really started to pick up at the halfway point, and I couldn't put it down. I devoured this and the next book (4 star read) in the space of a day and a half, and I can't wait till the release of book 3 in December.
Overall, I'd recommend this book if you're looking for a darkish, sexy, and guilty pleasure read. It's also a good one if you want urban fantasy that's still very much grounded in the real world.