I was a little nervous to start this book. I hesitated over choosing it for review, although I had no concrete reason to be tentative about it. But something about the cover and the back blurb combined to give me the feeling that it would be on the lighter, more dramatic end of the PNR pool. I ended up being both right and wrong about that initial assumption.
In the first half of the book, I found myself quite surprised by how much I was enjoying the read. The case itself was interesting, and Nix and her partner, Dante, were serious in their determination to solve it. Nix is half demon but because she’s half human as well, she is able to act as a humankind liaison for the Council of Preternaturals. She and Dante are paired with Tobias, a vampire old flame of Nix’s, to try to find the killer and stop him from striking yet again.
The killer’s second victim (the first one we, the reader, get to see) is an old friend of Tobias and Nix. She’s actually the one who first introduced them. Nix split ties with the victim around the same time Tobias broke up with her, so that gave the author a nice way to revisit the past and touch on their breakup, without feeling like an info dump.
I enjoyed the way Garner set up the world. Although the worldbuilding wasn’t especially deep, the idea was interesting. The supernatural creatures on Earth exist because a rift in the universe that’s caused by the Moore-Creasy-Devon comet passing nearby. Aliens have been using the rift as a Botany Bay of sorts, so when it opens (as it does every 73 years) the alien’s criminals are sent through. The aliens have no corporeal forms so they take over human bodies when they come through. The reason behind one turning into a vampire and one turning into a werewolf is still a mystery to the humans.
I liked the author’s unique take on the existence of supernatural creatures and thought she did a good job setting up the racial tensions between the different groups. Surprisingly, it’s not just the humans who are prejudiced against them; they are prejudiced against each other. Demons are the least respected, so Nix struggles against the discrimination she faces from her own kind.
Although I enjoyed a lot about the beginning of the book, there came a point in the story where my enjoyment started to dim. That point coincided with the sexual reunion of Tobias and Nix. I found myself very uncomfortable with the vibe that I got from it. I liked that Nix was able to behave in a professional manner and didn’t embarrass herself (and me, by extension) by constantly sniping at or mooning over Tobias. But then Tobias admits that he only dumped her years ago because he was afraid that her relationship with him was the reason that she kept losing control of her demon and risking her humanity. Suddenly she’s all desperation, trying to convince him that she was different and pleading with him to give her another chance.
It felt very desperate. He gave in, but even after that he was always on the lookout to see if he was messing with her control again. It all just had a very uncomfortable air to it that I didn’t like. Tobias was constantly trying to protect her from herself and Nix was always acting out and then becoming irritated by his behavior. He almost had a condescending, I’m-the-one-who-knows-what’s-best-for-you air toward her. It felt too much like a parent’s patient behavior correction toward a child for me.
In addition to that, the emotional aspects of the story became over emphasized and the characters’ interactions toward each other became much more dramatic and eye-roll worthy. I was disappointed to see a book I had been enjoying go that way. I prefer my characters and their relationships to feel more realistic and less silly and emotive. After reading about the so-convenient-it’s-silly development with Nix at the end, I realized that my enjoyment of the book had dipped so much that I couldn’t give it more than a C-. Too bad.
P.S. I almost forgot to mention something. The plot is not wrapped up in this book. They find out who the bad guy is and what he wants to accomplish, but nothing is solved. The hero and heroine getting together is what marks the end of this one.
”I’ll be fine.” MacMillan lifted his chin toward the vampire he’d killed. “I took care of him, didn’t I? He wasn’t so tough.”
“He was injured.” Tobias lifted a brow.
“So?” MacMillan folded his arms. “I’m the one who hurt him. Besides, someone has to fight the wounded.” His grin was as cocky as they came. “That could be my niche.”