House of Mirrors is in line with other offerings from these authors and I think fans especially will enjoy this. It’s an easy to read and likable historical with a lot of rich detail and angst to sink your teeth into. The story offers numerous memorable and vivid characters, rounding out a cast full of gritty life and heartbreak. The main romance suffers only from lack of time together but the detailed sex scenes should help readers when the two do eek out a few moments together. The ending is a bit over the top and an easy fix to some considerable problems but by then I doubt any readers will care. This isn’t a story I’d read again but it’s enjoyable and likely to hit with historical fans.
The story starts out with preacher’s son Jonah asking to join the traveling circus. Jonah’s father has thrown him out of their home after discovering Jonah’s relationship with another priest. Jonah’s cousins decide to complete the send off with a beating. Yet Jonah’s vulnerability and open heart call to circus owner Rafe. The two definitely have chemistry but the life isn’t as easy as that. Between problems plaguing the circus and Rafe’s mysterious past, the two men may want each other but aren’t sure they can actually be together.
The plot is a good mix of character development and action. The circus setting is quite wonderfully done with the patina of shine over tawdry items and realism once the lights are out. The broken down feeling to the circus is simply stunning, especially when contrasted to the magic and awe of the circus during a show. The dirt, grime, hunger, desperation, hope, and brief happiness all combine to create a memorable and well crafted setting. There are a couple circus themed stories in this genre and this one definitely stands out. It feels gritty yet with the aura of potential hope.
The various cast members stand out as well from the drunk belligerent second in command to the prickly animal trainer. The main characters of Jonah and Rafe are almost upstaged by the secondary characters. The interactions between the members of the circus are interesting, complex, and filled with deeper meaning. Their pasts and potential futures are fascinating, each with a story of woe but underlying ability to survive. Jonah and Rafe fit in well with their own needs and back stories. Their romance is nice with definite chemistry but if anything the romance is secondary to how interesting they are individuals.
The story spends quite a bit of time on the setting, the circus members, and Rafe and Jonah as unique people apart from each other. So much that it feels like the two spend the majority of the book apart. There are enough sex scenes to help soothe over any irritation at this fact but it does create a feeling that the romance is not the main focus. I was ok with this since the story is interesting and well written enough to stand without the erotic/romance focus but it does feel like a bit of an afterthought.
Overall I think historical fans especially will enjoy this offering. It barely makes a misstep and offers a truly interesting and eye catching story, scenery, and cast.