I had high hopes for this book because reading about Magnus and his Helen in The Viper made me really curious. This is just the kind of story I like.
I admit to mild disappointment, thought I did like Magnus and Helen. First of all I agree with other reviewers, I don't get the secondary romance between Helen's brother William and the clan healer Muriel. It adds nothing to Magnus and Helen's story and does give the impression that Monica McCarty needed more mateiral to fill the pages. I did not particularly like William and Muriel either. They were empty characters who just showed up out of nowhere from chapter to chapter.
The book opened with a fantastic beginning. I immediately was drawn to Magnus and Helen. They are both endearing characters. Up until Helen's marriage to William Gordon, Magnus's partner and best friend, everything was great. This was very early on in the book. The tension was ever present. Magnus's conflict between friendship and love, Helen's pain from doing her family duties because the man she loved was unwilling to give her a second chance. And poor William Gordon, such a merry character but died so young.
After William Gordon died, the story took a turn for the worse. I always think it is important that readers know, if the characters make a decision to de-prioritize the romantic relationship, they did not do it because they had another personal relationship prioritzied. This could be a parent-child relationship, or a best-friend relationship. What followed Gordon's death definitely de-prioritized the romantic relationship between Magnus and Helen. It was more important to Magnus that he did not "betray" his friendship with Gordon by furthering his relationship with Helen. That totally "tainted" the story for me.
Overall I think it is quite a shame how the story turned out. Magnus and Helen had a good thing going. I really like them as characters and feel that their relationship could have been much better than the story. The story pales in comparison to Magnus and Helen as characters. They deserve a better story. Monica McCarty has Helen "chasing" Magnus because he was so set on "not betraying" his friend by wanting his wife, even after Gordon's death. I think that bit was overdone. The story would have been much better if Magnus showed more "wanting".
I am giving the book 4 stars for Magnus and Helen. I wish the story had allowed their relationship to reach its full potential. Alas, this was not the case.