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Rogue Magic
Cover of Rogue Magic
Rogue Magic

While trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron's hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion — with outlawed magic.

When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he's ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn't pull it off, Levi will be put to death.

Byron discovers that he isn't the only one questioning America's stance on magic. And he learns that Levi is stubborn, angry, and utterly enchanting. Time is running out, though. Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that's forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.

While trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron's hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion — with outlawed magic.

When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he's ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn't pull it off, Levi will be put to death.

Byron discovers that he isn't the only one questioning America's stance on magic. And he learns that Levi is stubborn, angry, and utterly enchanting. Time is running out, though. Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that's forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.

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    Chapter One

    Some Sign of Life

    Byron Cole was well into his personal best score at Trivia Dash. His phone blinked with the next question, bright against the darkness around him. Another distant explosion shook the subway car, and the little boy across the aisle began to cry.

    The trivia timer was already winding down. Byron clenched his jaw and skimmed the question and answers.

    What year did Charlotte's Law pass? It was ninety-eight or ninety-nine. A girl in his second-grade class had been sent to foster care that year, when magic users were first forbidden to raise their own children.

    He went with ninety-eight, and his run of correct answers ended. Sighing, he tucked his phone back into his messenger bag and rehearsed his speech silently.

    Thanks to our nation's vigilance and dedication, the United States has incarcerated those mages who pose a threat to our freedoms. And now Cole Industries has developed a system to relieve the tax burden of these rogue mages by using them to generate electricity to sell back to the power companies. Magic is an untapped resource and can produce the kind of clean energy America needs.

    He ran through it again, wishing he'd emailed himself a copy. He'd written the speech himself, so he shouldn't have been nervous about messing up, but this was his first assignment in front of a microphone. And he wasn't prepared for follow-up questions he couldn't answer.

    No one had explained to him how exactly mages were going to generate electricity.

    At the moment he was picturing thousands of stationary bikes. That was better than tuning in to the restless chatter around him. If his uncle hadn't advised him to take the subway instead of a town car, he would have been at the press conference by now. But he agreed with the reasoning: He needed to humanize Cole Industries, give people someone to relate to. Someone who took public transportation.

    And got stuck on public transportation.

    "The police will be here soon," the young woman sitting beside the sniffling boy was saying. She wore cut-off shorts and sparkling tennis shoes. An older sister or a nanny, maybe.

    "How do you know?" he asked between shuddering breaths.

    Byron felt a pang of remorse for ignoring the boy until now. Adults had a way of doing that to kids when terrible things happened. "The sirens. Hear them? They're close," he said, hoping no one else realized that didn't mean a thing.

    The dim emergency lights were still working, and the car wasn't on fire, so the likelihood of being rescued any time soon was slim. Judging by the number of explosions that had gone off like thunder, nearby first responders had too much on their hands to deal with a stalled subway train. Thankfully, the boy gave a shaky nod and wiped his nose against his sleeve, apparently satisfied with Byron's answer.

    "Do you think it's the terrorists?" an older woman asked. She sounded more hopeful than afraid, as if a terrorist attack was the best possible reason for the subway to have lost power in the middle of a pitch-black tunnel. It took Byron a long moment to realize she was addressing him, and by then others were watching him questioningly. They obviously didn't realize he was only twenty-two.

    He shifted in his seat, and his name badge for the press conference he was now incredibly late to caught on his sleeve. The Cole Industries logo gleamed. No wonder they expected him to know something. He plucked it off and shoved it into his pocket.

    The woman's voice went shrill. "Well?"

    "I wouldn't be surprised if our delay is related to an act of terrorism."...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 2, 2017
    This debut urban fantasy might have felt timely, given its depiction of successful resistance against a totalitarian alternate America driven by corporate greed and fear, but it’s undermined by a plodding and entirely predictable plot, shallow and clunky worldbuilding, and stereotyped characterization. After attractive Levi Camden saves bystanders from a subway explosion with a spontaneous use of magic, he’s blamed for the explosion, jailed, and subjected to torture. One of the people he saves is Byron Cole, a hapless PR guy and nephew of the CEO of the evil corporation that produces government-required CALM bands to suppress the magic of registered mages. Naturally, Byron has a change of heart. By using his connections to get Levi transferred to a friend’s magical defense testing facility and connecting with the unregistered magical underground, Byron prepares Levi to destroy his uncle’s new machinery, which is meant to drain mages’ vitality in order to produce clean energy. There’s not enough adrenaline in Brisby’s story to justify the handwaving vagueness of the powerful magic system, and the romantic arc between Byron and Levi is a complete dud that feels awkwardly glued onto the political and fantastical core story.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from January 15, 2017
    In a world where magic exists but has been brutally suppressed, the heir to the company which made the violent system possible begins to question everything when he's saved by, then falls in love with, a mage.Awkward Byron Cole has never questioned the "fact" that people who practice magic are a threat to society, and since his family business, Cole Industries, is instrumental to the draconian subjugation of people who have magic, it's never occurred to him to do so. Everything changes the day his subway train is delayed due to terrorist attacks by mages. When the passengers are routed to the street, an explosion detonates nearby, and an attractive man Byron noticed in his car suddenly produces a magic shield, saving everyone in the vicinity. Since unsanctioned magic is punishable by death, the mage, Levi, is arrested and blamed for the attacks. Yet Byron wonders why he would save them all if he was a terrorist who wanted them dead, Asking the first question leads him down a rabbit hole into a quiet rogue magic world he never knew existed and toward the unthinkable reality as to whom the real public enemy is. Byron is in a unique position to change the world for the better, and when he discovers the horrific plans Cole Industries has for Levi--the sweet, sexy mage who saved his life and to whom he is wildly attracted--as well as the entire magical community, he knows he can't sit by and do nothing. For the first time in his life he finds the courage to stand up to his uncle and fight for something, risking everyone he loves. Debut author Brisby creates a stunning and sophisticated view of an America manipulated by fear into brutally oppressing its magical population, then offers an inspirational and redemptive social revolution leveraged by a few brave friends finally willing to do the right thing and a romance strong enough to motivate them. A powerful, thought-provoking, and spellbinding debut; timely, too.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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