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Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Ratings: V5, S4+, H1
Publisher and Titles: Avon 
    His Darkest Hunger (2010) (Jax & Libby)
    His Darkest Embrace (2010) (Jag & Skye)
    His Darkest Salvation (2011) (Julian & Jaden)

     This blog entry was updated (8/15/11) to include a review of His Darkest Salvation, which follows this very brief summary of the series so far:

     The series follows three jaguar shape-shifting brothers (Jaxon, Jagger, and Julian Castille) as they battle supernatural and human bad guys around the world. The Castille brothers and their team work for a secret government agency that takes advantage of their magical abilities and super strength by sending them after a series of supernatural criminals.

     The main group of villains is the low-life DaCosta family, also jaguar shifters. In each book, one of the brothers wins his soul mate, but the couple must fight many fierce battles before reaching their happy ending. Characters include various shifters, vampires, and sorcerers. The most evil of the villains (Cormac O'Hara, a dark sorcerer) is the link among the books, as the good guys keep chasing him down and he keeps escaping. Both the good guys and the bad guys are searching for a portal that would allow demonic forces to spill out into the mortal world.

     Each book ends with a cliff-hanger, usually involving the disappearance of one of the brothers or one of the team members, or both.

     As His Darkest Salvation begins, Julian Castille and Declan O'Hara have just returned from six months in hellliterally, they were actually in hellwhere they were tortured to the point of insanity. As a result, both men have both become extremely dark and dangerous. If you are remembering Julian as the buttoned-down CEO of previous books, you're in for a big surprise. Back in book 2, in order to free themselves from their horrific captivity, Julian and Declan made a deal with a mysterious elf-like man who calls himself Bill. As His Darkest Salvation progresses, we discover exactly what kind of a deal that they made, and suffice it to say, no matter what happens, neither has much of a future to look forward to. When Julian gets back to his penthouse after his hellish sojourn, he finds an intruder: Jaden DaCosta, the daughter of his worst enemy. What Julian doesn't know is that Jaden has been working undercover for years with his brothers, striving to undermine the DaCostas and Cormac O'Hara in every way she can. Jaden also has another disturbing secret for Julian, which dates back to their single night together three years earlier. The plot has three main threadsfollowing Julian as he tries to find the fallen angel, Azaiel; Declan as he searches for his evil father, Cormac; and Julian and Jaden as they try not to fall in love, but fail. The secondary love story here is the Declan-Ana relationship, which has been simmering on the back burner throughout the series and looks to be the central story of the next book. By the time His Darkest Salvation ends, the whole Cormac-portal situation is resolved, for better or for worse, and a new threat has arisen. Since the romantic stars of this book are Julian and Jaden, you can be sure that they complete their soul-mate journey all the way to its HEA ending. For Declan and Ana, however, the ending is impossibly murky, with just a few hints of what is to come—that cliff-hanger ending, once again.

     I'm enjoying this series. It has a classic SMR structure, with the added benefit that the series story arc is much stronger than in many SMR series. Each of the romantic relationships is fraught with huge amounts of anguish (especially His Darkest Hunger) and considerable quantities of complications, just what I'm looking for in a soul-mate romance. My only quibble is that all of the bad guys (so far) are totally evilnot a single redeeming quality in any of themand that means that those characters have no real depth.

This blog entry was last updated on 8/15/11.

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