“Ever mind the Rule of Three. Three times what thou givest returns to thee. This lesson well, thou must learn. Thee only gets what thou dost earn!” ~ Lady Gwen Thompson (The Rule of Three)
It doesn't take magic for Gus Goodwin to notice the handsome stranger who wanders into his occult shop, Four Corners, especially when he is touching everything. Gus asks if he can help the man, Niall Valentine, who introduces himself only as Valentine. When Valentine starts asking more profound questions about Wicca than usual, Gus becomes suspicious. Valentine explains that he's a PI, investigating a missing person who, from the photograph he has, appears to be Wiccan and shows Gus the picture. Between some flirting and their serious discussion about Wicca which may lead Valentine to the missing girl, Gus convinces Valentine that he will get a lot further if Gus goes along because the people in the community know and trust him. Gus also has a better idea of which questions to ask. Against Niall's better judgement but, in part, due to his attraction to Gus and wanting to know more about him, Niall agrees to let Gus tag along and help him with the case.
As Gus and Niall begin asking about the girl, they come up with more questions than answers Gus and Niall's relationship become more complicated as well. Gus is proud of being a witch and more than happy to talk about it. Sometimes, he inundates Niall with information, only to apologize for doing so later. Niall doesn't mind. He finds Gus's effervescence refreshing and thinks he's adorable. Gus never tries to “convert” Niall to his path or to being a vegetarian. Gus even compromises and cooks meat just for Niall when they have dinner together. Gus and Niall treat each other with a great deal of respect which adds to their growing affection for each other. They are in no rush to jump in bed either, which is refreshing. Gus and Niall are becoming close at an alarmingly fast pace and it's a bit puzzling; but on the other hand, it's a great feeling to feel so comfortable with another person.
Even though Gus's knowledge is a great help with Niall's investigation, and it becomes clear that someone is targeting and killing witches by either drowning or burning them, just like they did in the past. Niall tries to get Gus out of the situation, but by then it's too late. He's already in the killer's sights. Showing what an amateur he is, Gus jumps to conclusions and, instead of waiting for Niall's help, takes off on his own attempting to prove his theory. Predictably, Gus plays right into the murderer's hands, quite literally. Gus is terrified. The thought of never seeing Niall again brings with it an overwhelming sense of sadness. Gus deeply regrets his impulsiveness and prays fervently to the Goddess that Niall will somehow realize he is in serious trouble and come to rescue him before it is too late.
This story is a brief but informative overview of the Wiccan and Pagan ways combined with a love story and an intense murder mystery. Having the story flow as well as this one does is a remarkable feat considering how much is going on. The religious aspects are so well blended in the story that it doesn't sound like Susan is proselytizing or dumping information when explaining them. Niall realizes being a witch is an intricate part of Gus's world. Wanting to be supportive and respectful, he graciously joins in ritual celebrations. Their mutual respect and playful banter adds an extra special touch to their budding relationship. I recommend this story to those who enjoy a good murder mystery with lots of twists and turns, are interested in learning more about the Wiccan path, a romance between two very different men, and, of course, a happy ending. Thanks, Susan, for the informative and entertaining tale. Blessed Be!