Kate Daniels, could you be more awesome? Nope. This book rocked my world! I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. Kate Daniels is such...moreKate Daniels, could you be more awesome? Nope. This book rocked my world! I loved the first book, but I loved this one even more. Kate Daniels is such a cool heroine. She's not only kickbutt, independent, and snarky, but she's utterly likeable. She's down to earth, and one of those heroines I think a guy or a girl could get along with equally well. I like her quick thinking and her ability to get out of some pretty nasty spots. And her willingness to do the right thing, even at personal cost to herself. And she's so funny! I think her one liners are hilarious, and her internal dialogue really puts me in the action and gives me an identification factor.
The action in this book was fantastic. A little bit gory and gruesome, but the fast pace allows you to tolerate that aspect fairly well. It's like watching a really good movie. The climax was one heck of a battle. I can't say I've read many other urban fantasy books where the conclusion had me so riveted. Ilona Andrews really knows how to write action, and that's coming from a very picky reader when it comes to action scenes.
The use of magic and the ugly and beneficial aspects fit very well with this particular story. The descriptions of the freaky version of a modern day Atlanta that has been morphed by magic into a sort of dystopian future setting, rife with deadly and mystical creatures were very vivid and iconic. I think this is such a great idea for an urban fantasy series.
I thought the Celtic mythology elements were very well done. The whole use of Morrigan and the Formorians. It tied in so smoothly with the overall plot. There wasn't boring periods where info dump slowed down the story. There was a huge element of risk here where you really worried if everything was going to be resolved well.
To be honest, I didn't really think of Curran as much of a love interest in the first book. There was a bit of potential, and he had me intrigued, although I wasn't sold. But, I could really see the attraction between Kate and Curran, and I was digging Curran pretty hard. He's...well, he's the Beast Lord, with all that applies. I like the back and forth between Kate and Curran. How she's attracted and kind of scared of him (because he's pretty scary, let's face it), but she won't allow herself not to stand up to him. It's pretty clear that Curran has it bad for Kate. I loved his courtship ritual that she didn't pick up on (it had to be explained by a few members of the Pack). I love the slow build of their relationship, with all the nice 'flirting moments'. I can't way to see things progress with this couple.
Kate's sidekicks were cool. Derek is adorable but a tough fighter. I loved Julie. I hope to see more of her. All the contacts and the acquaintances that Kate has stand out in my mind, each adding to the story in crucial ways. And then there was Bran. A very interesting character with a complex relationship with Kate.
Man, oh, man. I had no idea how much I would come to love this series. It just keeps getting better and better. I was so pumped after reading this book, it took me a whole hour to calm down. Magic Burns is highly recommended to the discerning urban fantasy reader who likes a great heroine, kickbutt action, wonderful world-building, and intriguing secondary characters. I'm going to try to keep myself from devouring this series back to back. I need to have a guaranteed read in my pile for that 'rainy day', and the Kate Daniels series is definitely that!(less)
Has a prominent bwwm interracial storyline. I definitely want to give this one a read. How sad am I that you put werewolves and interracial in a book...moreHas a prominent bwwm interracial storyline. I definitely want to give this one a read. How sad am I that you put werewolves and interracial in a book and you get my attention? The two together, oh, yes!(less)
The visual medium has a distinctive way of conveying a story to a reader. Unlike movies, graphic novels encourage a reader to use their imagination ba...moreThe visual medium has a distinctive way of conveying a story to a reader. Unlike movies, graphic novels encourage a reader to use their imagination based on the visual images presented (we see the artist rendering, but our minds process those pictures into a three-dimensional finished product in our minds). Honestly, I wasn't quite sold on the concept of popular, already published books translated into the graphic novel medium. Now I am! It’s just an additional way to gain exposure to one’s favorite books and series.
It was utterly diverting to see Mercy Thompson's prequel story in the graphic novel format! As most already know, I am a huge fan of Patricia Briggs and this series. Seeing Mercy in action on the page, not to mention the other characters from this series I know and love, just primes the well of my devotion.
The artwork is beautiful, and the script feels like Mercy's voice, which was crucial to connecting to this graphic novel as an authentic part of the Mercy Thompson story. In other words, it was an extension of the series as I know. For readers who are curious about how Mercy ended up in the Tri-Cities, working for Zee, with the oh-so scrumptious Adam Hauptman as a landlord, this book will fill you in on that.
The artists captured the motion and action of a story in which wolves clash with each other over territory--rogues versus Adam’s pack under the aegis of Bran Cornick, the Marrok (leader of all North American werewolves); vampires attacking humans (and one vampire named Stefan befriending Mercy); and a smaller, but incredibly courageous walker (Mercy) who dives in to save the day when necessary. The colors were beautiful, and the artists render Mercy beautifully, revealing her appeal, valor, and strength of will. Stefan is quite creepy-looking. I can see why Mercy was wary of Stefan and his offer of friendship. Zee has a Loki-like mischievous look to his face that fits what I would think of him as a gremlin. Adam is as gorgeous and full of presence as he seems in my mind. The wolves are dangerous and powerful, creatures that inspire fear in others, even the wolves who don’t attack humans. Mercy’s coyote form is small and spry and just what I imagined. I’d say the artists did Patricia Briggs’ characters justice.
Mercy is the kind of heroine you want to give a high five. She's so down-to-earth and fierce in an everyday way. She has to work for a living, and is not afraid to do so. Nor is she unwilling to pay her dues. She's taken steps towards establishing her independence and keeping it. She clearly has emotional wounds from being abandoned by her mother, later losing her adoptive parents and the safety of Bran, the Marrok's pack. She rejects the Marrok's overtures to take her back in, determined to live her own life. You can see how ‘complicated’ her relationship with Adam promises to be. Lots of tension and sparks between them already.
Homecoming is a great addition to the Mercy Thompson series. It successfully captures the spirit of this series for fans. Homecoming takes us back to the start of Mercy’s time in the Tri-Cities, fills in the blanks on what we don’t know about her prior to Moon Called, and exploits the visual medium to tell the story of one of my all-time favorite heroines in beautiful, living color. I need to pick up the other Briggs graphic novels at the library as soon as I have the time to fit them into my reading schedule! (less)
What if one of the Allies' greatest spies during WWII was a werewolf?
The Wolf's Hour is the story of Michael Gallatin, born Mikhail Gallatinov. His j...moreWhat if one of the Allies' greatest spies during WWII was a werewolf?
The Wolf's Hour is the story of Michael Gallatin, born Mikhail Gallatinov. His journey is sprawling and meaty, full of intense moments, both emotional and physical. Although I am not sure this technically counts as an epic, it feels very epic to me. Because there is so much to see about how Michael goes from being a privileged eight-year-old during the bloody Russian Revolution to a thirty-four year old British Secret Service spy. You might say, "That's a big jump." But when you read this book, you find out how he evolved from that boy to the man he becomes.
Things to Take Into Consideration:
*This is a bloody, gory book. There is a lot of violence. The action scenes are almost always gruesomely described. If you're really squeamish, be warned. I am not big on gore (at all), and I often winced as I read. However, it doesn't come off as gratuitous. Why? Because this is about predators, human and animals. Michael has to learn to live in the brutal world of the wolf and the more brutal (for it is often not of necessity), unnecessary viciousness of humanity. I feel that McCammon draws a contrast between wolves and humans. Wolves kill for survival. They can attack fiercely and brutally, but their motives are for living another day. Whereas the vile actions of the Nazis and some of the Russians during their Revolution depicted in this novel speak of human evil and the dark heart of human nature. To kill, maim, and to harm for paltry reasons (if there are any good ones), that's not the animal world. That's purely human. Not all humans are evil, and McCammon shows that. But those that are commit so many heinous acts that it weighs on the soul, even when reading a fiction novel set during WWII. Even Michael, a man who lived as a wolf and has a dual beast nature, is not so cruel and blood-thirsty as the Nazis, with their racial and ethnic hatred, their greed, and thirst for domination. I liked how he is asked the question about where werewolves fit in God's eye, by his tutor, Wiktor, and eventually asks himself later on in his life--to find his answer. Suddenly he realizes his place in this world of ugliness, God's wolf avenger. I have to make it clear that I despise the Nazis so much, I liked the idea of having someone like Michael around to take care of them. He realized he couldn't save everyone, but he always tried to do what was right.
*There is a fair amount of sex in this book. Michael's life plays out over nearly thirty years, and in that time, he loves and 'loves' numerous women. I'm not real big on seeing a character 'hook up' with several people over the course of a book, but I suppose that this is another layer to his character that plays out. And in all those encounters, you get the sense that Michael does respect and love women. So it wasn't exploitative, in my opinion.
*As I mentioned earlier, this book focuses heavily on the War World II time period. McCammon does not shy around the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and if that is disturbing to a reader, you might want to avoid this book. If a reader has an interest in WWII, I do recommend this book. It focuses mainly on the Nazis as the evil entity behind this war. Interestingly, it does not focus as much on the political state or evolution of Soviet Russia, or the atrocities that were committed under Stalin. While he doesn't paint the Soviet Army as the only or primary good-guys, neither does he delve deeply into that part of the WWII puzzle (and the reasons why the Soviets were able to crush the Axis on the Eastern Front). This is interesting, since Michael is Russian born, although he becomes a British citizen. But at over 601 pages, this book is plenty long enough, and I can respect that McCammon chose to focus on one aspect of the war.
*This book is about loss, struggle, the fortitude it takes to keep going and living when everything you love and that is familiar and comfortable to you is taken away. It's very angsty and sad, in other words. Just when you have hope that things might turn out out okay, the rug gets swept out from under you. McCammon does a great job of building and sustaining that tension. In real life, there isn't a such thing as "and they lived Happily Ever After." Instead, we have seasons of joy and plenty, and then there are seasons when sorrow seems to prevail above other emotions. But we have to keep moving through those seasons and take the lessons we can from both periods in our lives. Michael shows tremendous fortitude in his life, considering all that he went through. Giving up just isn't part of his makeup. Instead, he takes those hard-won, painful lessons and uses those to grow stronger. How can you not love that about him?
*The mix of espionage with supernatural was very well done. You might be fooled into thinking that things will be much easier for Michael because he is a werewolf. Oh, no! He bleeds just like humans, he can be gravely injured, he suffers from illness and starvation. Being a wolf gives him strength and endurance more than humans, but he is not infallible. Instead, his dual nature is just one other tool in his spy armament. And even that can be a liability in some circumstance. Although I think I do like the wolf who regenerates quickly, even with life-threatening injury, and heals more rapidly than humans better, the portrayal of lycanthropy in this book is better-suited to the tone and overall story. McCammon very carefully avoids using deus ex machina, but instead relies on Michael's physical conditioning, his mental acuity, and his extreme drive and determination, along with help from the Resistance groups of various parts of occupied Europe, and his spy cohorts. The espionage unfolds very well. That razor edge of spywork, and the extreme cost that comes with it. Knowing your life could be forfeit from any mistakes or just because of the danger of the work, and also that you cannot save everyone. You have to make sacrifices so that the greater good could be done. Man, I felt that moral angst deep down as I read this book. I held my breath as Michael and his compadres dealt with the Nazis and did their dangerous work, hoping they wouldn't be caught, and if so, they would find their way to safety. With this book, there certainly are no guarantees. You don't know who will make it, including the lead character. As I said, very well done!
The Wolf's Hour is compelling, involving reading. My emotions were deeply engaged, all of them. The story of Michael Gallatin, a man with many identities, drew me in. He is a great hero, and this is a great story about his life. When I finished it, I was kind of sad, because I felt as though he was part of my life for that time I spent reading this book. I highly recommend this novel!
**spoiler alert** LA Banks succeeded in restoring my faith in her as an urban fantasy writer with this book. I read the first two Vampire Huntress Leg...more**spoiler alert** LA Banks succeeded in restoring my faith in her as an urban fantasy writer with this book. I read the first two Vampire Huntress Legends books, and I was very disappointed with the execution. I didn't feel that the first outing of an African American lead vampire hunter went very well. Thankfully, I had different thoughts about the first in the Crimson Moon series.
There were times where I wasn't sure I would like the direction that Banks took with this story. But then, her writing (which is very polished and without flaw) diverted me into paths that made me fascinated and almost excited to keep reading. My fear of being let down hung in a pall over me as I read this book. I was almost determined not to like it, afraid to have myself be disappointed again. That's why this book earning a four star rating is significant.
I like a lot of books, but at the same time, I'm rather demanding on what I read. I don't like certain elements thrown into a book without rhyme or reason. I want things to make sense. I want my time spent reading to be of value. I want to feel that the writer took the time to write a story that she or he cared about. If she or he does not care about the story, why should I? It's clear that Ms. Banks really did invest herself in this series. And the results turned out very well.
Bad Blood has a strong lead in Sasha Trudeau. She is a competent soldier, who is very good at taking care of herself and solving problems. That's what I look for in an urban fantasy heroine. I liked that she's just one of the guys, but feminine at the same time. She is devoted to her team, they are her friends and family. Events in this book unfold to destroy her unit, and her grief is palpable to the reader. Her path in the world has not been easy, and she goes through even more heartbreak in this book. She earned my admiration for her strength and for her humanity. I thought Sasha's origins were quite interesting, giving this story a high tech/almost futuristic vibe in that sense.
The plot of this story centers heavily on the aspect of lycanthropy being in part a viral disease that turns humans into rampaging beasts, completely out of control, and hungry for human flesh. As the story continues, it becomes clear that this not representative of all werewolves. There are natural werewolves, who are in control of their wolves, and who are good, and hunt the demon-infected werewolves. That's where Max Hunter and Shogun come in. Max Hunter is the alpha of the Shadow Wolves, part of the Ute Native American tribe. They are werewolves who can hide in shadow and use shadows to travel. I found this to be a very fascinating element (and something new for me as a werewolf fiction fan). Shogun is the alpha of another tribe of wolves, who makes contact with Sasha on a mission in North Korea, revealing that what she knows about wolves is all wrong.
From their very first scenes together, it's clear that Max Hunter is destined to have a very strong connection with Sasha, and this is revealed in a very steamy, erotically intense way. Their scenes together make you want to reach for a large glass of something cold. There was some serious chemistry between Sasha and Max, making this story read more like a paranormal romance, in certain scenes. I think that their relationship will make this series even more worth continuing.
On the negative side, I do have to say that Sasha came off as being a little hard-shelled in her behavior towards Max Hunter. It was clear from the begining that their attraction was extremely intense and hard to resist, and going with it, went against the grain for Sasha. However, this is a woman who herself said she was used to be a sex buddy, booty call, casual friend that you take to bed, and it felt good to be someone of value, someone treasured by another person. Max cherished, respected and valued her. He saw her as an equal from the beginning. He didn't treat her merely as a possession or sex object, disposable or otherwise. But when Max got possessive with her, she threw a fit. Come on! This is an alpha wolf--that's how they are. He made it very clear that she was his mate in his mind. Max was a man who was rejected by women because of the taint of his heritage. For him to find a woman of his own was a tremendous thing. Even still, when he wanted to bond with her fully as a mate, he didn't try force her, or press her for a commitment. It hurt him deeply that she couldn't give the same for him, but he was willing to give her time. Despite that, he couldn't help feeing possessive, especially if she was treating him as her mate in all but name. She took it as a personal affront, like he was saying she would sleep with any random guy to get info. It wasn't like that at all. It was about his primal feelings towards her. Just like the attraction between them was primal, and she was more than willing to go with that. That annoyed me about her. I will freely admit, I am not fond of hardened heroines. Something just rubs me the wrong way with them. Nothing wrong with being tough and in charge, having self-control, and being no one's pushover. But when they get where they are so callous about emotions, that's a pet peeve to me. I admired her honesty with Max, but I think she needed to really get where he was coming from a little more, since he was doing the same for her.
This was really the only issue I had with Sasha. But I'm a little worried what's going to happen in the next book. A clear that there's an attraction to Shogun as well. She's more or less 'lightly committed' to Max. Is she going to get with this other guy too? If so, I will be very disappointed, especially in the light of how much ground was laid building the relationship with Max. I really dislike when the heroine is going between two men. I don't mind if there's a flirtation, but since it's very clear that Max is deeply in love with Sasha, I will not be a happy camper if Sasha 'cheats' with Shogun.
The military vibe was working for me, mostly. I love characters who are soliders, warriors, or military. I especially like when the heroine is a badass warrior. Sasha's definitely that. It looks like she'll be running her own unit, so that's going to be really cool to see where her mission takes her yet.
I hope the storyline expands past the search for the demon-infected werewolves. Ms. Banks already introduced other creatures into this book, and very well, in fact. I look forward to seeing the vampires, werewolves, faery, wizards, etc. The vamps that show up, do a good job at trying to steal the show. They are seductive, sexual, and devious, with their own agenda. They have presence. I think it will be interesting to see more of the vampires as this series progresses. I can't wait to see what Ms. Banks does with the fae.
As you can see, I got involved with this story. Even though I was a reluctant reader, afraid of being hurt again. I have to give Ms. Banks kudos for that. I was glad that she left out a lot of the urban vibe that she used in the Huntress books (it does nothing for me), and told a story I could get involved in. The action scenes were intense, and the magical elements were very vivid. I loved the parts when Sasha and Max called their wolf. Very well done. It's icing on the cake to see the main characters of African-American/Native American ethnicity. We could use some ethnic diversity in the urban fantasy.
If you're like me, and felt let down with the Vampire Huntress books, give Bad Blood a try. I think you might like it. I'm happy to say that I believe this series has a lot of potential, and I hope I continue to enjoy it.(less)
I deliberately took a long hiatus on this series. Not because I didn’t love it, or that I was bored. No! Quite the contrary. I did it because it was d...moreI deliberately took a long hiatus on this series. Not because I didn’t love it, or that I was bored. No! Quite the contrary. I did it because it was doggone heartbreaking to run out of books after Kiss of a Demon King. Now, I have accumulated a nicely sizable stock of IAD stories, and I am good to go, if having to avoid spoilers like the plague doesn’t put a bit of a crimp in my style.
The Story: It was quite fun to see besotted Lykae, Garreth MacRieve chasing after his reluctant (for the most part) Valkyrie mate, Lucia. You see, Lucia totally has the hots for Garreth, but she has some really good reasons to give him the cold shoulder. For the most part, this didn’t bother me. I like to see the hero doing the chasing. And Lucia did show that she had feelings for Garreth. There were a couple of things she did to discourage Garreth that I wasn’t fond of. And I didn’t like the way she treated them the day after the night in the temple. (view spoiler)[ Thankfully, she saved his life from the anaconda and apologized nicely, so I forgave her (hide spoiler)].
(view spoiler)[I do have to say that I was dismayed that Lucia was married. I hate cheating. I just do. I convinced myself that emotionally she was divorced or annulled from her horrid, disgusting, awful husband, and he didn’t deserve her. But I just wish authors didn’t go there. Yes, this is a series about pagan immortals and my set of values clearly don’t apply, but I feel much better when I read a romance with a pair who is not married to someone else. Having said that, it was an interesting idea, Lucia being married to a being of legend, a horrible thing who made her wedding night unspeakable. I also liked that Lucia saved herself and Garreth. And I loved that Garreth’s love for Lucia kept him from killing her, able to fight off her husband’s magic just long enough to keep him from hurting Lucia. (hide spoiler)]
As usual, Kresley Cole writes a blisteringly hot romance story. Here I am reading this book at the gym on the elliptical, with my eyes glued to the pages, which were singeing my fingers. Oh, my! Ms. Cole writes so many good foreplay scenes, you are eagerly awaiting the big moment, and of course, you are not disappointed.
I loved the adventure aspects. The trek into the Amazon, and the natural, strange but natural creatures, and of course, the Loreans that Garreth and Lucia encountered made for an exciting read. She didn’t let the tension wane in any way, sexual or storyline-wise. And there are so crazy, over the top action scenes that I loved. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t bored for one second. Lucia holds her own against enormous caimans, crazed assassins, shapeshifters, vile, cannibalistic gods, and crazy humans. Garreth ain’t shabby either. My werewolf fixation was very much appeased with him! A girl could do no better than to have a devoted Lykae mate out to protect her and to meet her every need! Hot and sultry, this book was, in many ways. The treasure hunt was a nice addition, giving this book that Indiana Jones vibe that I love. I have a feeling that some of the happenings in this book will have repercussions in the next, and I am eagerly awaiting to see how those chips fall.
The Characters: Ms. Cole was able to distinguish Lucia from her Valkyrie sisters by giving Lucia a more serious bent than her other sisters. She had a lot of emotions simmering underneath that she had to keep leashed. While most of her Valkyrie sisters are party animals, she has to stay in control and honor her vows. Her situation was a tough one, with her obligations that kept her from living a full life. She was punishing herself for childish choice she made when she was a very young girl. That’s one thousand years of guilt. Way too many! I liked her rationality, and I loved her archery skills. She was freaking awesome! I liked that she had a soft spot for Garreth, and it wasn’t just lust. She really liked the guy and cared for him. And she really, truly showed how much he meant to her, going after him in his time of need. If I didn’t like her before, she definitely won me over at this point.
Like pretty much all of KC’s heroes, I adored Garreth. Sexy, sweet, tough, funny, intelligent, and devoted, very devoted. It’s safe to say that when he makes a commitment, he keeps it. And when he loves, he loves, to the bottom of his soul. He just about broke my heart near the end of this story. But this story has a happy ending, so fear not.
The secondary characters are always entertaining and well-drawn. Ms. Cole has a great imagination, creating characters that populate her ever-expanding Lore, and making me even more of a devoted reader. I love the romance, but the world-building was an equally powerful factor in making me a fan of this series. It’s very distinct and fascinating, full of legend and myth that makes this paranormal romance into fantasy adventure, and keeps me coming back for more. When I meet new characters, I hope that Ms. Cole will bring them back so I can see what their story is, and where this series will lead them. I have to say that Lothaire is one character that I have my eye on. What is his deal??? Inquiring minds! And the epilogue….Evil. She’s evil! I am so glad that I have the next book waiting in the queue.
Some Questions to Finish This Review: Did I love this story? Yes‼‼ Sexy romance, humor, adventure, fascinating storylines. They are all there for the intrepid reader. Was I satisfied? Oh, yes‼! Am I excited for the next book? Absolutely‼! Would I recommend this series? You aren’t reading it? Do you like paranormal romance? If the answer is yes, hop to it! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I am glad I took my time reading this. I think there are so many levels to this novel that I could miss if I breezed through. I like how simple Briggs...moreI am glad I took my time reading this. I think there are so many levels to this novel that I could miss if I breezed through. I like how simple Briggs writes. Not a lot of nonsense, extraneous prose that bogs down the story. Despite her concise narrative, she conveys so much, filling the novel with an emotional power. Her characters have a distinct feel to them from other writers. I like that she puts their flaws out there unashamedly, and it makes you love the characters even more.
I will freely admit I like the scary hero that everyone fears, but the one woman who looked into his heart and feels safe with him, and is not afraid to love him. I think that Anna and Charles have that sort of bond that is symbiotic. It doesn't really apply to call it yin and yang, but there are elements of softness and strength coming together. Truly though, their strengths complement each other. And they aren't trying to modify each other to make a more comfortable fit for the other. It's more a matter of growing in their knowledge of each other, and growing together. I find their relationship very fascinating and fulfilling, and that's another reason why I read this book slowly.
The storyline was very good as well. A lot of intrigue here, to see who was trying to destroy the Marrok's plan for an alliance when the werewolves reveal themselves to the world. The suspense was done cleverly, because you look at the key players, think someone looks likely, but look away to focus on someone else, and then you realize that things aren't the way they seem. I liked how she kept me guessing.
The werewolf parts are fantastic as usual. Just utterly fascinating. Another thing to appreciate from all angles as I read. And throw some faerie and King Arthur stuff in there, and I start thinking this story is tailor made for me. This is my kind of urban fantasy. Naturalistic characters with identifiable motivations, enough grit to keep my heart beating fast, a heroine whose strength comes from within, and who grows right in front of my eyes, for Anna is a phoenix who rose from the ashes. A to-die-for hero who makes me sigh even as he makes others shudder with fear. But then you see his soft spot is his Anna. How can I resist that? Just the right dose of romance that fits into the story so well, it neither distracts or detracts from the fantasy elements. Everything my heart desires, except the book was over, and I still wanted more.
One thing I really love is when a book exceeds my expectations. I didn't really expect to like this story nearly as much as I did. For one, reunited l...moreOne thing I really love is when a book exceeds my expectations. I didn't really expect to like this story nearly as much as I did. For one, reunited lovers is one of my least favorite themes. I hate the baggage of a broken relationship going into a romantic novel. Also, I wasn't too keen on Shade for his womanizing ways, and how females/women didn't seem to be that important to him. Just objects to be used and abused. This is a major pet peeve of mine.
I am happy to say that I was proven wrong about Shade. He was a very complex character that I grew to love fairly early into the book. He had depth that really appealed to me. At heart, he loved women, as it was part of his nature, from his mother's side and rearing. As a seminus or incubus demon, through his father's side, he was compelled by his nature to take any woman who wanted him, to satisfy her sexual needs, and his in the process. Although it probably sounds like a dream come true at face value, in my mind I can't help but think, what a horrible deal that must be. In some ways like a sex addiction. Probably worse because Shade will die without having sex. As his s'genesis, the last stage of sexual maturity comes, it will only get worse. And if he is not mated, he will become a demon who is crazed by his desire to mate any female he comes in contact with, willing or not. He will wreak havoc on females all around him.
In essence, Shade cannot say no to his nature or what women want from him. And some of those women/females wanted some very dark, awful things. Shade had a gift given to him by his Umber demon mother, the gift to see darkness in a person and to draw it out and heal that person. As a seminus demon, he utilizes this gift during sex. The nasty, ugly kind of torture sex that I certainly want no part of. The females come out of it healed by having their worst emotions and regrets taken way, giving them the ultimate orgasm that last forever, a pure conscience. Thankfully, Ms. Ione does not go into detail, but this fact about Shade's past does play into his future.
Shade does wrong Runa. But he cannot help doing it. It is his nature, but also his fears about the maluncoeur, or curse put on him as a younger demon. If he falls in love, he will suffer a shadow existence of thirst, loneliness, and unslaked sexual desire. As such, falling in love is not on his plate. So when he finds himself falling too deeply for Runa, he pushes her away. When she finds him with two females doing the deed, she breaks it off with him. Only to be attacked by a werewolf minutes later, and left for dead.
They meet again at the beginning of this book. And Runa is very different. Hard where she was once soft. Full of confidence where she was shy and retiring before. Although Shade was attracted to her softness (as reminders of his mother and sisters who are of a race of demons who are gentle homemakers), he is even more attracted to her now. And it turns out that Runa has become a werewolf.
Their reunion is not under good circumstances, as they have been imprisoned by Ghouls, demons who harvest organs from other demons and sell them on the black market. Things only get worse, as Shade finds out that he has a very personal relationship with the leader, and the leader hates him and wants to kill him and his other two brothers.
Runa and Shade reconnect and have to deal with the ugliness of their pasts, and due the magical machinations of their enemy, they end up mated. For Shade, the timebomb starts ticking down, because he is unable to keep an emotional distance from the female he is mated to.
As the story continues, we see this couple, forced to spend time together due to their mating bond, realize they are soulmates. Both have hidden wounds that have affected their lives and how they relate to others. Runa has a guilt that she cannot rid herself of, and presses Wraith to use his talent to get rid of it. But Wraith hates that ability and would never do that to a woman who is so precious to him. I was really glad that this book doesn't have a lot of bondage/torture stuff going on. I am not a fan of BDSM, so I really don't want to see a lot of that, especially in a mainstream romance. I think Ione handled it very well, because I was afraid that it would go there. Fortunately, the way that the scenes with Shade dealing with his gift and Runa's need to have her darkness extracted were written showed a deft handling that didn't turn my stomach and ruin this book for me. It showed how much Shade loved her, and his determination to sacrifice himself for her out of love.
This is a complex, intense story. Ione's worldbuilding is incredible. I haven't read a book that creates such a multilayered world of demonarchy. These demons aren't the silly demons you can dismiss like some of the ones on Buffy. There is a whole spectrum, some that are good, some that are not so bad, and some that are really, really bad. And there's not only demons in this world, but faery, and other creatures. There's even fallen angels (I love stuff with angels). I appreciated the idea of the Underworld General Hospital that treats demonkind. It's the medical show-lover in me. This book is like Trauma Life in the ER meets Angel. And what a great combination.
I liked the information about the bond between a werewolf and her sire. It's a profound bond that has some pretty serious consequences. And Runa has to deal with some aspects of being a werewolf that make her very dangerous to others, and restrict and affect how she can live her life. Her werewolf nature can overcome her thoughts and conscious desires, and this comes into play as well.
We get to visit with Shade's brother Eidolon, who's now happily mated to Tayla, his other brother Wraith, who is clearly on the path to self-destruction and hanging by a thread, and see the developing relationship between Gemella (Tayla's half-sister and a doctor), and the human ex-Aegis leader, Kynan, who is still heartbroken from his wife's betrayal. I just loved seeing more about Kynan. In the last book, I didn't think I'd be that interested in him and Gemella, but this book has gotten me very interested indeed. Kynan is such a good guy (and you get some inkling as to why he is such a good person that I am sure will unfold further in the forthcoming books). Gemella is externally hardcore goth, but she has a soft heart and is deeply in love with Kynan, although she knows she doesn't have a chance at him, being a demon. Their relationship has some poignant parts that got to this softie.
This book was so enjoyable and involved me emotionally. It was clear from the beginning that Ms. Ione put a lot of thought and effort in this series, and this book really shows it and her talent as an author. That's what I look for in a read, so I was very happy to give it five stars.(less)