Devils & Thieves by Jennifer Rush
Book One of the Devils & Thieves series
Book One of the Devils & Thieves series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael has grown up surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called "kindled," and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn't help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf.
When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumour begins spreading that someone is practising forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.
What I Liked:
It has been forever and a day since we got a new Jennifer Rush novel! Well, not that long, but her last book, Reborn, published nearly three years ago. I loved the Altered series so much. Altered remains one of my favorite Young Adult books of all time. When I saw that Rush was publishing a new book, I knew immediately that I wanted it. I didn't even need to know what it was about. As it would turn out, it's about magic and motorcycle clubs and it was AWESOME.
Jemmie Carmichael has always been surrounded by magic. She is one of the "kindled", magic users who live among non-magic users (drecks). Jemmie is a locant, like her father, but she hasn't been able to cast a spell in years. Jemmie feels like an outsider in the kindled world, and especially among the Black Devils, the kindled motorcycle club of the town of Hawthorne. Her best friend Alex is the daughter of the former president of the Devils, and the sister the of current president, Crowe. Crowe took over when his and Alex's father died of an accident that Crowe is convinced was not an accident. Crowe is dangerous and ruthless, and all of the kindled know it. The entire kindled community comes to Hawthorne for the annual festival of the kindled, which is hosted by the Black Devils this year. But something strange is happening; people from each MC club goes missing, and tensions start to rise. All fingers point to Crowe, but someone else's magic is at work. Jemmie and Crowe will have to uncover who the traitor among them is, before it's too late.
Does this book sound kickbutt? It really was. I love stories that are set in modern contemporary times, but involve magic. There is something about this type of supernatural/paranormal story that appeals to me. Throw in a motorcycle club, and I'm sold. As an adult romance reader, I LOVE romance novels involving a guy in a motorcycle club. Maybe it's something about him being patched in, and she isn't, and he has to protect her but also stay loyal to his club. Anyway, I'm rambling, but I love motorcycle clubs, and I love magic in contemporary stories, so this book really worked for me, on the world-building level. It was so cool to learn about the different types of magic. There are many, like Jemmie's (locant), and Crowe's (venemon). Crowe's is my favorite!
The back of the ARC has a comparison to the Beautiful Creatures series, which I'm now more inclined to try. I'd never really been dying to read those books, though they'd caught my interest before. If they're anything like Devils & Thieves? Then I'll give the series a shot.
I had no trouble liking Jemmie, from the start. She feels like an outsider in her own community, because she can't wield her magic like everyone else can. She isn't part of the Black Devils motorcycle club, even though she could become a prospect, at eighteen. She doesn't think she belongs, and she tries to hide her loneliness. In truth, she has a hard time with her locant magic, but she also has a sensitivity to magic and she has never told anyone. This sensitivity makes her sick sometimes, and she drinks to take off the edge. All of this makes her feel even more isolated, since she doesn't want anyone to pity her if they knew about her sensitivity to magic. Jemmie is a tough and strong person, even when she is bitter, hurt, and struggling within herself. I really felt for her and understood her. With her father having left her and her mom, the boy she loves rejecting her, and her magic not responding to her, her life is pretty bad.
Jemmie is one of a kind and I adored her. I loved her interactions with Crowe; all of the interactions were charged with tension, hurt, and a little bitterness, after everything between them. We don't get to know exactly what happened between them at first - Rush reveals that information slowly.
Crowe is a few years older than Jemmie, and already he is the president of the Black Devils. He takes his position in the club very seriously, and stops at nothing to protect the members. He is ruthless and deadly and he has no problem laying down the law or putting down insurrection. Crowe is to be feared, and all of the kindled know that. But Jemmie knows that he is grieving, given that his father died somewhat recently, and Crowe thinks it wasn't an accident. Honestly? I like the dark, dangerous edge that Crowe has. He earned his brutal reputation, and you can't help but respect it. He has done what he needed to do for the club, and he has no fear or remorse.
This story isn't just about Jemmie, or Crowe, or Jemmie and Crowe. There are so many other important secondary characters that I loved. Alex (Crowe's sister and Jemmie's best friend) is such a sweetheart. She is total trouble and always seems to be wreaking havoc somewhere. But she is also a solid best friend and loyal to a fault. I loved her friendship with Jemmie - they are so supportive and good to each other. I also liked several members of the Devils - Hardy and Flynn, for example, who were funny and pretty cool. Old Lady Jane was creepy but good people.
I loved the romance between Crowe and Jemmie, even though there was basically nothing going on between them physically, in this book. One single thing happened in the recent past, and Crowe rejected Jemmie, and that pretty much ruined their relationship for the next year. Now, they antagonize each other in every interaction. There is anger and bitterness between them, a good amount of angst that I surprisingly really got behind. I lived for their high-intensity interactions - so much tension! It's so obvious that Jemmie loves Crowe, and eventually it becomes obvious that Crowe loves Jemmie. Crowe is incredibly protective and alpha-male-y, and I liked this about him (though I'm sure there are some that don't love the alpha male thing).
I will mention A Thing about the romance below.
The climax of this story takes form after people start disappearing - including Alex. By the time the climax of the story comes about, we find out a big thing that was pretty obvious to me from the start, but was still a game-changer when it was revealed. The story ends on a wrapped up but not resolved note. This book is part of a series, so it's okay! It's not a cliffhanger ending, but there is definitely more to come. And I am looking forward to that more!
What I Did Not Like:
There is kind of a love triangle this book. You're probably thinking, whaaaaaat, Alyssa, there is a love triangle in this book and you still LIKED the book?! (I hate love triangles with a passion, in case anyone didn't know. I usually rate books very poorly when I discover a love triangle, regardless of how good the story could have been.) Here me out.
I knew that the "other guy" was not The One, and I knew there was something... off about him. I don't want to venture too much into the spoiler zone, but to me, I knew from the start that there was something vague and off-putting. This guy is Jemmie's friend (emphasis on "friend"), but no one knows that he and Jemmie are friends because he is from a rival MC club that is currently in a truce with the Devils, but they are still on rocky terms with the Devils. This friend very obviously wants more from Jemmie, but Jemmie is very hung up on Crowe.
The thing is, at no point in this book are Crowe and Jemmie together. Crowe owes Jemmie nothing, and Jemmie owes Crowe nothing. They never dated. They never hooked up (technically). Yet they love each other... but Crowe had his reasons for rejecting Jemmie. Anyway, my point to this is, Jemmie and her friend are friends. The friend wanted more. Jemmie didn't really know if she wanted more (and it turns out, she never did, and that becomes clear when things are revealed).
Just trust me when I say that this isn't really a love triangle. It's kind of there and I hated that it was there but the reason for it being there made a lot of sense and I could look past it because of those reasons. There was no romantic feelings on Jemmie's part (to her friend), and it was so obvious that she wanted Crowe and only Crowe.
Anyway, so it's kind of a dislike because the "love triangle" does in fact exist to an extent, but it wasn't bad enough to bother me, and the purpose of the other guy made sense. Also, for what it's worth, there is no need to worry about an actual love triangle in future books. It's not going to be a problem, if you catch my drift.
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book, if you love magic and motorcycle clubs and some really passionate/angry banter between the heroine and hero. I really can't wait to see more from Crowe and Jemmie in the next book. They are fire and fire together! I wanted more physical "interactions" between them in this book (if you know what I mean) but I'll just expect more in book two.
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I adored this book and would have rated it five stars, had it not been for the thing I talked about above. Still, I think this book was so excellent and I loved. I'll definitely be rereading my favorites parts soon! And swooning over all of the non-swoon between Crowe and Jemmie. Hopefully there will be swoon to swoon over, in book two!
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