Estimated release date: November 9, 2022
I never would have thought that Steffan – uptight, suspicious, conspiracy theorist Steffan – would become one of my favourite characters in this crazy and wonderful series. But here we are. And I can’t properly express how delighted I am by this story.
Here Be Dragons (and Hidden Species) are full of quirky and ridiculous, yet lovable, characters. Steffan, who’s been in the periphery of many of the stories, has always been one of the more extreme eccentrics, and definitely less likable. But, my oh my. This book changed all that.
Yes, he’s still awkward as all get out. He can’t relate very well to other people. And, of course, he’s the most distrustful character ever written. But seeing the world through his eyes, getting his story, makes all the difference. And I just melted. I felt, and fell, for him so hard!
In a way, Conspiracy of Dragons stands out a bit compared to the first three books. Because of Steffan’s background, the story became much more emotional (while still being cute and corny fluff) and by the end I felt all kinds of warm and soft on the inside.
So, the couple featured is Steffan and Will. Work colleagues (well, technically, Steffan is Will’s boss, but that’s not really relevant here because it’s not that kind of book) and secretly lovers and partners. Steffan’s paranoia – albeit understandable – prevents them from living their life out in the open. Which is becoming more and more difficult to take for Will as all of their friends begin pairing up. And when Steffan’s wild conspiracy theories turn out to not be so wild after all, Steffan is convinced that he was right in hiding his relationship with Will all along. Then a stranger turns up that forces Steffan to confront his past traumas.
When learning that this installment would cover Steffan’s story, I couldn’t imagine how Masters would pull off portraying someone as paranoid as him actually falling in love. Love requires trust after all. But the solution to that was genius, with Steffan and Will already being in a loving relationship from the start.
But, going in, Will was something of a non-entity to me. Sure, he’s been there throughout the series, but always in the background without any specific defining characteristics. And now, in this dual POV story, it was great to get into his head and get to know him. And my heart broke for him when… Well. No spoilers, you’ll have to read for yourself. But anyway, even if he obviously was more fleshed out in this book, this was clearly not his book despite him being a main character. It was Steffan’s book. And Steffan is a lot to take in, so I get why Will’s personality took a backseat. But I still thought that Will could have been a bit more of his own person and a bit less of a supporting character to Steffan. He was the nicest and sweetest ever, and the most supporting partner. But that unfortunately took its toll on his personality.
But this is a lovely story. Despite Will not getting the space he probably deserved.
It’s heart-breaking and wonderful and cute. And it’s silly and funny like all of the Masters’ writing. And Steffan is now my second favourite character in this universe right after Sam (sorry Alistair, I love you but third place isn’t so bad).
5 stars. Highly recommend!
* A complimentary e-book was kindly provided by Gay Romance Reviews and this is my unbiased and voluntary review *