Double Alchemy - Susan Mac Nicol
This is a 4.5 star review

Withinners, water sprites, witches and powerful warlocks make up just some of the cast of characters in Susan Mac Nicols’s new novel Double Alchemy. A fast paced and exciting novel set in a world where time travel and sports cars coexist, Double Alchemy explores the idea of a magnetic pull that mates us with the person we are to be with and just how far a man will go to protect the person he loves. Will he lie? Fight to the death? It is all here in an exciting paranormal format that is sure to thrill fans of the genre.

The plot is twisted and involved and to do a synopsis is perhaps my most daunting task in this review. Essentially, there is a race of warlocks and witches who exist in the modern day world. They move about secretly and have everything from their own hospitals to their own conventions hidden carefully behind cloaking magic that allows them to go undetected. Cade Mairston accidentally steps into this world when he spies a cloaked figure muttering strange incantations in the forest near his houseboat home one evening. What Cade does not realize is that he is viewing the “withinner” of the supremely powerful head warlock, Quinn Fairmont. Warlocks all have a dual personality, a second person attached to them who coexists within them. When invoked, the withinner can take over the body and appear, doing whatever bidding the warlock issues, or just spending time in its human form doing needful tasks of its own desire. The withinner experiences everything the warlock does, from lust to pain.

When Quinn meets Cade there is an electric pull, almost an unbearable physical attraction that overwhelms both men. Cade is a water sprite—a fey and, as such, is most appealing to a warlock. Though determined to fight their attraction, both men fall head over heels in love and, yes, lust with each other. But powerful forces are at work, hunting Quinn in order to make him pay for past transgressions. Congruently, there is a bold new foe on the scene who takes delightful pleasure in killing any and all magical creatures he can find. So, as the past and the present close in on Quinn and threatens not only his but the lives of those he has been given to protect, it is Cade being at risk that finally tips both men over the edge into impossible danger. Can they survive to love and cherish one another, or will the enemy win and destroy them both?

Truly this synopsis barely touches the surface of this multi-layered story with its immense cast of characters. And therein lies the genius of author Susan Mac Nicol, her ability to write a slow-building but intricate plot that picks up speed and hurtles you into one death-defying incident after another. When I first cracked this novel, I was worried. The instant lust and attraction between Quinn and Cade was full on and highly sexual. I felt the story stretched the realms of believability in its initial opening chapters. Here was the supreme leader of the warlock contingency hurling himself at a relative stranger, and seemingly content to use him sexually without any regard to the potential fall out. Had the novel stayed true to this trajectory, this review would have been so very different. However, the author nimbly turns this one around and takes us into a fully fleshed out world and dives into an intricately woven story that literally had me gasping aloud at points. It was intense and action-packed and kept me completely involved till the closing pages.

As soon as these two men were able to move beyond the magnetic lust that brought them together, we were able to get to know them and become involved in their lives. Piece by piece, Quinn’s past is revealed and, while much still remains mysteriously shrouded, we learn how, at a young age, this man became a powerful warlock who is currently tortured by some of the decisions and lives he took during his reign. We can feel Cade’s frustration at learning so little and only piecemeal snippets of Quinn’s past and, at the same time, we can understand Quinn’s reluctance to burden Cade with his murky and violent past. This story just captured my imagination, and these two men found me rooting for their relationship and their very lives to remain intact.

With a cast of endless characters who never confused or derailed the main story, Double Alchemy was an excellent paranormal story with enough plot twists to warrant several future installments. Other than its slightly jarring beginning, this novel takes its place amongst the best-written stories in this genre. I daresay that it is one of the best paranormal stories to come along in a while and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to reading further installments about these two heroes.

Reviewed by Lisa at The Novel Approach