The finale of EJ Russell's "Fae Out of Water" trilogy concludes with pomp and ceremony. And I mean in a literal sense. Following closely from where "The Druid Next Door" left off, this book brings the intrigues from the Faerie realm to the forefront. All of this has been building up since "Cutie and the Beast". With this book we get our climax.
"Bad Boy's Bard" reunites the youngest Kendrick, Gareth, with his long-lost lover, Niall. During the Convergence ceremony in the Faerie, a surprised Gareth saw Niall among the Unseelie contingent. A threat to Gareth's life had them fleeing into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all they care rests on their shoulders. Locked out of Faerie, they must figure the way back and mend their broken relationship before the time runs out.
Having been following this trilogy from the start and noting how Gareth treated his older brothers, I'm all for disliking Gareth. He strikes me as a self-righteous and judgmental prick. Oh, I get his anguish over Niall's fate, believing his human lover suffered at the hand of an Unseelie. But it doesn't excuse the centuries old cold shoulders or fervent accusations he loves to throw about. It truly took a while for me to warm up to this character. I caved in later on. Much. Much later.
Niall might not be the traditional hero. He's a hellion through and through. Knowing Gareth's deep-seated hatred to the Unseelie and the guilt over his own deceptions drives him to further lie before circumstances forced the truth out of him.
The alternate POVs gives insights into both men's heads, but Gareth's damn-if-I-do-damn-if-I-don't struggle and longing are just so heartbreaking. I can't help but sympathize with him. I guess I just have a soft spot for a redeemed or troubled character.
Of all the installments to this trilogy, I found this book to be the most touching. There's all the healing process both MCs have to get through, emotionally and physically, that made Gareth and Niall's dancing around emotionally draining. Considering their history though, the love scenes in this book are barely there. Not that I'm complaining, I'm not a big fan of too much steamy scenes anyway. That saying, the MC's (inner) journey from Faerie and Underworld to Outer World and back to Faerie again are enlightening. The atonement subtle yet genuine.
I did feel as the finale that tie-up all loose ends, some of the supposedly epic (battle) scenes are cut off and relegated off-page. Still, of the author's books I've read so far, "Bad Boy's Bard" is her best yet. The world building and characterizations really pulled me into the story. This was not a bad way to close the chapters of the Kendricks and their partners.
As far as rock star Gareth Kendrick, the last true bard in Faerie, is concerned, the only good Unseelie is . . . well . . . there’s no such thing. Two centuries ago, an Unseelie lord abducted Gareth’s human lover, Niall, and Gareth has neither forgotten nor forgiven.
Niall O’Tierney, half-human son of the Unseelie King, had never lost a wager until the day he swore to rid the Seelie court of its bard. That bet cost him everything: his freedom, his family—and his heart. When he’s suddenly face-to-face with Gareth at the ceremony to join the Seelie and Unseelie realms, Niall does the only thing inhumanly possible: he fakes amnesia. Not his finest hour, perhaps, but he never revealed his Unseelie heritage, and to tell the truth now would be to risk Gareth’s revulsion—far harder to bear than two hundred years of imprisonment.
Then a new threat to Gareth’s life arises, and he and Niall stage a mad escape into the Outer World, only to discover the fate of all fae resting on their shoulders. But before they can save the realm, they have to tackle something really tough: mending their own broken relationship.