On the surface this seems like the most likely book (so far) in the series to resemble a typical Paranormal Romance. The hero has a magical power, the heroine’s a shifter who works and lives with her animals, two men want the heroine at the same time, the heroine doesn’t like to touch anyone until she meets the hero, etc. These are not unique things in PNR, yet somehow the author manages to morph the story into something fresh and different. I really think that her writing reads like an Urban Fantasy with a great romance. The world she creates is practically a character itself and while the romance is a central part of the story, it develops while the story takes place as opposed to the story developing while the romance takes place.
Blue and Iris were wonderful characters. They both had past issues that made them lean toward being loners and they both feared the impact their powers would have on any future relationship. Their personalities complimented each other nicely, but when you stop and think about it, you might wonder why this person. The attraction is strong, but I felt like the beginning foundation of their relationship was a little shaky. But that small nitpick was quickly brushed aside once I saw them together. I may not have understood what specifically led to the initial attraction, but once it was established as fact I couldn’t help but see how perfectly they fit together. Their strengths and vulnerabilities came together as if they were tailor made for each other, without ever once feeling disingenuous.
Once again we are treated to a wide cast of characters. Some are new and some are previously seen. If it’s been a while since you read the last book or if this is your first book in the series then you might suffer a little from character confusion. I, personally, really like that there are so many characters that feature in the series. It helps set the stage and gives the world a well rounded feel instead of giving me the impression that the characters live in a vacuum.
I like how we continue to see the shadow of previous villains. The more that I read, the more it feels like the Dirk and Steele agency is slowly being surrounded. I think it makes a great series arc, but I really wonder why all the agency discoveries are happening now. Why not years ago? This is not a big issue for me, it’s just something I ponder when I think on the series.
One of the things I love most about the way Liu writes her characters is the depth and nuance she gives them. In this book we saw that the “good guys” don’t always do good things and that it was possible for some of the “bad guys” to have the occasional softer emotion, even if they didn’t show it easily. It really makes you stop and think about what defines the good guys as “good”. There’s a storyline that crops up involving Artur, one of the previous characters. It was absolutely intense and his willingness to step over the line made me question my reaction if he actually did. Unfortunately, that story thread was solved in a completely convenient manner, but at least it was intense while it lasted and the reason for the convenient solve made some sense.
If you were to read a list of events that happen in this book you might feel overwhelmed, but Liu ties each piece together neatly. The plot is layered with events that seamlessly blend together in the overreaching story arc. At times the coincidences can feel a little thick, but on the whole I loved seeing side events and previous characters tie into the main plot. I’m sure you could start the series with this book, but I think a greater enjoyment will be had if you read the series in order. Then you’ll know exactly who’s who and how they tie into the current events.
Blue woke the next morning with a crick in his neck and a boot in his crotch. He was not sure which was worse, although he thought the very large half-naked man staring down at him with a cleaver in his hand might trump them both.
“Hello,” Blue said.
“Guten Morgen,” said the man, with a smile that was almost as violently cheerful as the giant yellow happy face tattooed on his massive chest. “I think you are very wunderschön, but if you hurt my friends, I will cut you. Okay?”
“Okay,” Blue said, hoping to God that was the right answer.