Vicious Moon is the third book in the Earth Witches series by Lee Roland. This series reads like an urban fantasy, but is labeled as an urban fantasy romance and I guess that’s where my trouble with this book lies. In the romance, or lack of one really.
Nix Ianira is an ex-mercenary turned private investigator who happens to also be an earth witch. Never having any real interest in the affairs of witches she left home and never looked back. That is until she is forced home by the Sisters of Justice. You see, her Gran needs help finding her missing sister and there’s really no one else she trusts to find her… so it’s off to Duivel, Missouri Nix goes. Duivel is an odd place, home to a couple of witches, two ex-Sisters of Justice, some weird gang members and one demon. The scariest part of this odd city seems to be the Barrows, where the Earth Mother has trapped the demon Aikos and magic makes everything go haywire.
To find her sister Nix must unravel the mystery of the Barrows and try to follow her steps to figure out what she was doing before she went missing. She has a constant shadow by the name of Etienne who has an immunity to magic and a hatred of all witches. Nix falls easily in with him and his group of mercenaries, having worked with several of his men in her past career, but maintains her wit and independence even when his prejudice toward witches shines through. Everyone seems to be against her finding her sister and she has to learn to get ahold of her fire magic in order to decipher the clues she left behind.
As an urban fantasy this story works. I find the world of the Barrows to be interesting. Nix is another kick ass heroine who may be inept at times, but always seems to get the job done. Although she’s saddled with Etienne following her around and being with her every step, she still manages to go her own way and be her own person. I love watching UF characters be overcome by circumstances, fall down and pick themselves back up again and Nix does that over and over. She’s not a very knowledgeable witch and every time she uses her fire gift it gets out of hand. She gets hurt repeatedly and towards the end I found myself wondering how in the world she managed to pick herself back up to finish her search. Especially since her love interest never at any time seemed like he was that concerned over her injuries. Cold, that’s how I would describe Etienne. Cold, standoffish and not very good at showing his emotions.
My problem lies with the romance between Nix and Etienne. There was no romance. There was snarky comments, him following her around, him keeping his distance even when she was hurt, her being attracted to his manliness and one sex scene. That’s about it. I never at any time believed these two should be in a relationship. Hot sex for one night, yes, her staying on because they love each other, no. While I understand that she’s an ex-soldier and he’s some kind of criminal, master thief, bad-guy, I still want there to be some tenderness and emotion between my H/h. I never really felt like I got that, which made the ending not believable at all. I’ve read all three books in this series, and this one seems to be heavier on the UF and lighter on the romance. I struggled to stay engaged with these characters and think that if there had been more chemistry between these two that I might have enjoyed the story more. Final Grade- C-
I threw my hands up. “This place is paradise. We have a demon who acts too kind and sophisticated to squash a bug and a militia leader on the whole world’s most wanted list.” I poked his ribs with my finger to see him flinch. “There’s a pretty boy gang leader who probably calls Mom every night, and a malicious earth witch who…. well, the Mother only knows what she wants It’s imminent Armageddon.”