Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.
But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.
Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.
In Grey's magnificent second Deal with a Devil paranormal romance (after Devil at the Crossroads), grifter Gilbert Blake uses his unusual magical powers to fleece marks and make a precarious living in the steampunk city of Shadowsea. An altercation in a dive bar brings Gilbert's magic to the attention of crime lord Count Reuben, who tries to kidnap him. While fleeing, Gilbert is picked up by the Circus of the Damned, who have literally made a pact with a devil, and discovers that no one who joins the circus can leave it, even after death. As he gets to know the handsome and magical centuries-old ringmaster, Jesse, Gilbert's not sure about wanting to leave anymore, but he's still in danger from the Count and the pact. The romance between Gilbert and Jesse is erotic, touching, and believable, and the rest of the circus is drawn with a deft touch that elevates it above the clich s of its subgenre. There are no easy answers for these characters, and their journey is gripping from beginning to end.