The magic is back with this latest installment of Karina Cooper's Dark Mission series. And by the time I got to the end of Lure of the Wicked
, I was every bit as enthralled in Cooper's dark and creative world as I was in
Before the Witches
. That's a mighty compliment, because I loved that novella.
The book begins with a missionary, Naomi, on an undercover job to capture a rouge agent. She is assuming the role of a rich society woman at a posh spa. But almost right away, things get more complicated when a witch attacks her in her room. He gets away and Naomi now must not only find her original target, but the witch who is targeting her
Phin runs the fancy resort where Naomi is staying. His parents founded the place. When he and Naomi meet, sparks fly instantly. Of course, he has no idea who she really is or why she is there. But despite her assumed identity, her real personality shines through. And perhaps just as importantly, her real life starts seeping in and mixing with her pretend one.
At the beginning of the book, I was kind of struck by the fact that there was very little supernatural at play. Really, Naomi could have been any kind of agent on any secret mission and the story would have played out in a similar fashion. But the otherworldly and post-apocalyptic elements got more involved as the story went on. Luckily, the stumbling blocks I found in
Blood of the Wicked
seemed to be righted here. We're back to characters that I felt invested in. Naomi's backstory is clear and sympathetic. She made for a much better "gruff agent with a wounded heart" than Silas did. And Phin was a character with depth. He had other relationships in his life that helped flesh him out as well.
I cared about Naomi and Phin both as individuals and as a couple, something I couldn't really say about Silas and Jessie. The sexual tension was great and, frankly, so was the sex. There is one particularly enjoyable scene at the end of chapter 13 that I may have read two or three times. But more than that, I felt the evolution of an emotional bond between the two of them. It was very well done.
It was a pleasant surprise to see characters from the last book pop up toward the end. And I can see a direction for the series to progress. I was a little surprised to see the who the male lead will be in the set up for the next book... and I can't wait to see how he will be redeemed. It seems like a tall order, but one I'm anxious to see Karina Cooper fill. 4 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley