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Publisher's Summary

Guilt-ridden after the massacre of his family, Isaac Salvatore turned to binge drinking to escape the pain. Now 24 years old, Isaac is a recovering alcoholic woefully out of practice in the magical arts, leaving his fire affinity hanging on the edge of disaster. After a month of rehab, he returns to Beacon Hill and his family, determined to remain sober, learn to control his magic, and figure out a plan for his life that doesn't involve drinking.

Constantine Batiste is the oldest, most powerful vampire in the city. Born in ancient Gaul, the bastard son of a Celtic king, his long life has been shrouded in tragedy and horrors. Recent mistakes have left him wary and determined to guard his clan from all foes. When two of his clan members fall victim to an ancient evil, he summons the Necromancer of Boston for aid. Accompanying his older brother to the Tower is the handsome young fire mage once wounded by Constantine's arrogance, and their encounter reignites an attraction that burns within both Constantine and Isaac.

Contains mature themes.

©2019 SJ Himes (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Mastering the Flames

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This is a book meant to be listened, not read

(ETA: Amazon removed all my paragraph breaks. Ugh.)

I need to preface this saying I've listened to the series at least thrice and fully enjoy them, as well as reading this particular novel prior to the audio release. My review includes some critiques of the series as a whole and flippancy, but none of it is in malice or distaste.

The narrator is amazing and one of my favorites I've listened to - before this book was released on audible, I read it in Kindle form after listening to the others because I loved the characters and growth. Maybe it's because I'm a fast reader, but on paper and without the narrators inflections, I wasn't able to feel the same amount of character growth and relationship development that made me feel as if it were organic. Listening to it set a pace and tone that facilitated that growth and stopped the keening voice of "wtf is everyone doing being all shipper on deck it's been five minutes."

I'm still going to read book 5 first if the audio is delayed, as I would murder the world for more Rory and Daniel and it is the only thing I'm still looking forward to in 2020.

This review isn't to slam on the authors voice or talent. SJ Himes broke away from describing the same things in every chapter (did you all know Simeon tastes of mint and chocolate? or Angel is attached to the primordial death magic that animates the sentient undead?) so, bonus.

The juxtaposition between Simeon and Angels fast-and-hot start and kinks after two years of UST against the sweet, supportive infatuation turned gentle and passionate romance of Isaac and Constans is VERY well written. I was constantly impressed with the vastly different POV voices between Isaac and Angel, how their various strengths and weaknesses were highlighted, and the effect it has on those around them. Isaac's recovery from addiction and PTSD is amazingly touched on.

At first read, Isaacs dramatic shift from surly kid to fawning, sweet, concerned for others kid was... disliked on my end. Again, it may have been the narrator and/or my lack of appreciation for the running statement that who Isaac was before was addiction and guilt, and that he is trying to find who he is without those cornerstones. As someone who went undiagnosed for over twenty years for various chemical imbalances, I should have known to look at it that way, so that is on me.

Other reviews are right: the supportive Constants is awesome. Bring able to see how he treats those in his care helped a LOT in understanding why he'd find contentment with Isaac - mild spoiler alert, but Batiste thrives on caring for others and finds joy in bringing it to those he loves.

I've got to say it, though - I NEED my headcanon that once a mate bond starts to establish, all the feelings develop quickly in a sort of vampire defense to help secure it. The relatively quick fall into love makes me wrinkle my nose otherwise (as well written and organic as it may be), so I comfort that nose with that headcanon. I hope SJ doesn't read this, get mad, and be like "No, you wrong", though she doesn't seem the type. the headcanon isn't meant as criticism.

OH. major awesome high fives for the inclusion of more POC, non-binary, and varied love matches with a highlight on those not of cis white people. I didn't find the other books LACKING, mind, but they were more prominent here.

Did I mention I love Rory? Because I do. I love Rory.

1 person found this helpful

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Perfection

Another terrific performance by Joel Leslie. Another terrific story in the series. This is my favorite.

1 person found this helpful

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Love it

It was absolutely worth the wait, we are back in Beacon Hill again but this time our MC’s are Isaac Salvatore and Constantine Batiste the Master of the City in Boston. Poor Isaac is at Nevermore trying to rehab because of his addiction, drinking to get rid of his guilt. Recently out he doesn’t know how to be himself he thinks he is broken but with the support of his family and certain city master he is gaining little by little the confidence to become a better person, Constantine can’t forget Isaac and that kiss and want to help him. I love them together, Isaac and Constants are made for each other. The slow romance between them, the insight of his previous life as a mortal men and the power Constantine possesses know helps us with the story underneath, is so interesting and helps us reveal some interesting things about the blood wars than killed almost all the Salvatore Clan. This whole series is worth your time! Joel Leslie narrative is great I love Isaac and Constants voices! I highly recommended this audiobook!

1 person found this helpful

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Loved it

What else is there to say really? The BHS series is one of my all-time favourites and it's so great to see Isaac finally step out of Angel's shadow and begin to find himself.
And of course Joel Leslie's performance is absolutely amazing, but that's exactly what I've come to expect from him. He and Sheena J Himes together make an awesome pair and really give life to the world of Angel and Isaac.

Now I must wait patiently, or perhaps not so patiently, for Daniel and Ruarí's book.

1 person found this helpful

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The best one yet

I dearly hope there will be more because there are some characters I need to know more about ex: Rory and Daniel and who is this Ash character? I need to know. Loved the journey of our 2 MC’s, Constants is so lovely as is Isaac. There’s love, acceptance, understanding, a crazy blood mage and an adorable little pigeon crisper.

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OK - It is a good plot

This is a decent listen if you can stomach a Boston - ish accent. I love Joel Leslie as a rule but this accent grates on my last nerve. The plot is interesting. After the first book in the series I skipped to this one because his older brothers attitude became too much of too much. The younger brother is basket case of self-doubt, still I found hiim more relatable than his older sibling.

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This is everything I ever wanted in a story!

I love the great narration, cohesive storyline, and impeccable characters! Bravo! You will not be dissatisfied with this book!

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Yes

I read this not long after it came out. I finally decided to get the audiobook, and enjoyed it as much as the rest of the series.
I love Joel Leslie’s narration, no matter the book. As a matter of fact the narrator determines whether or not I purchase the audio.
I can definitely see some offshoots from this book, like Ignacio and Daniel. (Please:)

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Fun read

The bad: I'm not a fan of instalove and this sure is that. I'm not super clear why the main characters like each other so much but whatever, it's the genre. Also, the age and power difference is a wee bit creepy so I just pretended that wasn't happening.

The good: I really appreciated the treatment of alcohol use disorder in the book. I have spent quite a bit of time interacting with that subject professionally and personally and it rings true. I like that even magical detox can go awry. The book is mostly story, lots of mystery and action and character development which I prefer. Not just a sorry excuse for exploitative porn that is so much of this genre. Also enjoyed the normalizing of a nonbinary character. Not preachy, just you know, here's another pronoun that exists in the world.

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superficial but well narrated.

i liked the first 3 books in the series, but this is boringly superficial and lacking in story and depth. it is insta love, a hurried plot and a lot of unnecessary explanations, explicit sex and a lot of clichéd romance.
i got to chapter 28, and although i like the narrator and he did a desent job with a boring book, i could not go on.
i think i have to drop this author unles the books start to have some depth and story to them again.
do not recoment this book.

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  • Mrs. E. J. Curtis
  • 01-25-21

Interesting Story

The story premise is good and the characters are likeable. The narration was good too.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-18-20

Best one yet!

Rarely have I laughed so much while either reading or listening to a book! Just like the previous installments of the series, the story itself was fenomenal, great pasing and nice believable and organic character development.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Summertimememories
  • 11-06-20

Great book.

I didn't read this until it was out on Audible it just didn't sound the same in my own voice. Loved this book and am just about to reread this series when I've finished the last of the one I'm listening too.
I loved this please Author write more, of this series.

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  • Sam Baker
  • 10-24-20

Great

Amazing narrator, brilliant story that holds the readers attention. Had to listen in one sitting 😊.