After escaping from an abusive step-dad and a drug addicted mom, 12-year-old Luke Callahan stumbles into a traveling carnival that will change his life for the better. Luke is drawn to the magic show, and in awe of the entire show along with the magician himself: Maxmillian Nouvelle.

Max takes in Luke when he sees potential in the young runaway, and introduces him to the mysterious world of magic along with the world of thievery. He adopts the boy as his own son, and the two form a relationship neither would have had unless their paths had crossed. Along with having a new father figure, Luke also has a mother figure in the means of Max’s second wife, Lily Bates, and a sister in Roxanne.

Luke learns both trades that Max teachers him, developing an interest in becoming an escape artist. What he cannot escape are the feeling she develops for Roxanne, who also cannot deny the feelings that rage within her for him. The two try to fight their feelings, but eventually succumb to them and begin an unconventional romance.

But, a nemesis from their pasts stops the young love from blossoming as it should. Luke leave the Nouvelles without an explanation after a job, and doesn’t resurface until five years has passed and Max’s health is deteriorating by the day. No longer is he the Magician that dazzled royalty, presidents, rich and poor. But, a shadow of that man who doesn’t even recognize his daughter or wife on a regular basis.

The story is a mix of romance, blackmail, and magic all rolled up into one. Roberts delivers as she always does, lacking no flourish or talent for herself. The book blew past my expectations that I had when I first picked it up, and I’ll never look at another magic trick the same way after this book.

It gives you a look into the lives of magicians that is unique, which can be believable as she doesn’t go into details or reveal any secrets of the trade. It gives readers a look behind the magic curtain, but keeps it all a mystery just the same. Well written, and well played.