by Laura Thalassa
Published by Lavabrook Publishing Group
Book 1 in The Bargainer series
Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past.
For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.
Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.
But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.
For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.
If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Violence Urban Fantasy Interesting
Trigger warning: Flashbacks of rape and abuse
Rhapsodic by Laura Thalassa is the first book in her Bargainer series. It centers around Callypso, a siren who finds herself in debt with a magical being named the Bargainer. For seven years, he hasn't asked for repayment, until now. The Bargainer, who is also the Fae king of the night, isn't just asking for favors and secrets, or help figuring out what is happening to a group of women in his kingdom. He hints towards more. But can Calli open herself up to this man again, after breaking her heart in the past? And by helping him, is she putting more than her heart on the line?
So the Bargainer series has been on my TBR for a while now, and it's been recommended over and over on many threads on Facebook reading groups. After The Crown of Gilded Bones, I felt like I needed another fantasy/romance series, and with this one always popping up, I figured to give it a whirl. Another plus, is the series is on Kindle unlimited saving me some pocket money (which is good, because I blew my book budget on fairyloots blood and ash deluxe editions ☺️).
Needless to say, with the amount of recommendations, my expectations were high. I won't say I disliked Rhapsodic. I actually really enjoyed it. The idea of the book is interesting. I love the mix of supernatural and fantastical beings. I loved the back and forth between the past and present. I liked Calli and Des, and their chemistry with one another. It would have been amazing if the writing was ... well ... better. It wasn't terrible. It was just simple. Too simple. For a fantasy, I need more. Even the climax is anti-climatic.
One of the best parts of this book is Calli and Des. Beginning each chapter in the past, and finishing in the present, I felt like we got a good understanding to who these characters are, and why they are the way they are. Not once did I think that these characters were unrealistic in their interactions and decisions. I didn't feel like their chemistry was forced. And I really enjoyed both of them being kinda dark and twisty.
I must add, I appreciated that Laura didn't use the excuse of it being a fantasy, and the whole "adult at sixteen" to turn the romance icky. ----------------> despite knowing she was his mate, and falling for her, Des controlled himself. When she kissed him, he left because she was too young. And sadly, this is THE FIRST TIME in a fantasy where I have seen age being an obstacle <--------------------.
So Rhapsodic didn't quite meet all my expectations, but was still quite enjoyable. My hopes for the next book is for a bit more "umph" to the writing, and for a more well-paced, balanced arc. But just because Rhapsodic was simple, doesn't mean I don't recommend. If you can get past some dark, disturbing plot points, and like urban fantasy, romance, and of course some steam, you will enjoy rhapsodic.
Callie throwing her clothes at Des when he refuses to leave when she is showering
Des telling Callie his real name
Callie's siren telling Des that he was going to make him ache and ache and ache for leaving her.
Truth or Dare?
Des beating the shit out of the teacher that assaults Callie
Des forcing Callie to get out of bed when she is depressed
Des and Callie watching the last two Harry Potter movies because they didn't get to finish the series before
Des admitting that Callie is his soulmate
Des finally telling Callie why he didn't return to her
Des saving Callie
Oh. My. Sweet. Lord.
Fuck you, mouth. Fuck you to the fiery pits of hell.
Callie; "Dinner's on you? Now that sounds interesting ..."
He flashes me a wicked smile, his eyes twinkling.
Des: "Cherub, I may make a fairy out of you yet."
Des: "I'll only agree to this if you do me one favor -"
Callie: "Yeah, anything."
Des: "Please give me my balls back at the end of the evening."
Des: "Cherub. I will always come for you."
Callie: "Seven years, you fucker."
His hands fall to my waist.
Des: "The best things are worth waiting for, Callie."
I wind my arms behind his neck.
Callie: "Truth or dare?"
His eyes are heated, a smirk spreading across his lips.
Des: "Trying to play my -"
Callie: "Truth: Had you bothered to stick around, I would have given you every single one of your wickedest desires."
I move my hips against him to punctuate my words.
I feel him react, something that brings me no little pleasure.
Leaning in extra close, my tongue taste the shell of his ear.
Callie: "And I know my dark king has many wicked desires."
I turn his face to mine, pulling it to me until only the barest bit of distance separates our lips.
But instead of kissing him, I say,
Callie: "I'm going to make you ache, and ache, and ache, and I will do nothing to alleviate it. I'm going to make you pay for leaving me."
I step off him and saunter away.
Des: "Cherub, I will enjoy every sweet second of it."
Callie: "You are a vindictive little shit."
Des: "Little? Let's not use adjectives improperly now."
Next time I fall for someone, it won't be a conniving, manipulative -
His hand moves lower, cupping my ass.
-horny fae king.
Next time it will be a good boy.
Des: "I'm not asking you to never feel sad, Callie, I'm asking you to fight. Always fight."
Des: "Truth or dare?"
Callie: "Des ..."
In the next instant, he's on me, his hands roughly cupping my cheeks. His mouth crashed into mine, his lips demanding.
Des is kissing me, and God is it savage.
Des: "You're sixteen."
Callie: "Exactly. The House of Keys thinks I'm an adult, I don't know why you don't."
Des: "You have day of the week panties. That means you're too young for me to stay over."
Des: "You want to know a real secret?"
I nod against him
Des: "I want to wake up to you every single morning."
Des: "Do you want to know a truth of mine?"
He takes my hand and presses it against his chest. Beneath my palm I feel his heartbeat racing.
My eyes move from his chest to his face.
Des: "It does that whenever I'm around you."
Callie: "From flame to ashes, dawn to dusk, for the rest of our lives, be mine always, Desmond Flynn."
Des: "Callie, I love you. I've loved you from the beginning. And I will love you long after the last star dies. I will love you until the end of darkness itself."
Des: "I want to wake up every morning to you, cherub, and I want to marry the shit out of you, and then I want to have lots of lots of babies with you. If, that is, you will have me."
Des: "And mountains may rise and fall, and the sun might wither away, and the sea claim the land and swallow the sky. But you will always be mine. And the stars might fall from the heavens, and night might cloak the earth, but until darkness dies, I will always be yours."
Des: "Let our enemies come, and I will kill them all. So long as you're at my side, cherub, I have something to fight for."
Callie: "I'll be at your side till darkness dies."
Check out the rest of the Bargainer series