Plot Type: UF
As the second book opens, Nikki is beginning to settle in at Anderson's mansion—the headquarters for his group of Liberi good guys, but she still feels like an outsider. In the first chapter, the Olympian oracle pays a visit the mansion to reveal a vision about a serial killer who is using a pack of dogs (rabid jackals, as it turns out) as a weapon to kill humans. The oracle senses that this is a supernatural murderer and asks for Anderson's help in tracking him down—or more specifically, Nikki's help, because of the superior tracking skills that come from Nikki's ancestor, Artemis. As Nikki investigates the case, she is assisted by Jamaal, who spent book 1 trying to kill her because she killed his best friend. As they work together, their relationship warms up—sometimes to a fiery degree. During one attempt to catch the killer, Nikki gets bitten by the jackals and goes through a horrendous life/death/life experience.
In the meantime back at the mansion, Emma (Anderson's wife) is causing lots of problems. Even though Nikki rescued Emma from her 10-year imprisonment by Konstantin, Emma hates Nikki and accuses her of trying to take Anderson away from her. Emma also fights constantly with her husband about his hesitancy about going after Konstantin for what he and his Olympians did to Emma. The situation between Emma and Nikki gets so bad that Nikki contemplates leaving Anderson's group for good. Emma's character reminds me of Rayseline in Seanan McGuire's OCTOBER DAYE series. Both characters are kidnapped by an enemy, held for a long period of time, and return as jealous and malevolent harridans who do their best to undermine their husbands.
The two story lines—savage jackals and spiteful wife—are interwoven and are both tied up at the conclusion of the book after the requisite climactic showdown between Nikki and the killer. By the end, Nikki's love life is still a question mark, but now there are now two possible contenders: Jamaal and Anderson. Actually, this book frequently reads more like a paranormal romance than an urban fantasy as it places Nikki into frequent emotionally intimate scenes with both romantic contenders. The action plot isn't quite as strong as the one in book 1, and it sometimes seems rushed and secondary to the romance.
In general, though, this is a solid follow-up to book 1, and it (thankfully) adds some clarification to the mythology. Regarding the question of just who is immortal: The Liberi are immortal (not the descendants), which means that the Liberi do not age and they can heal from most wounds and illnesses, but they can be killed if enough violence is used against them. A descendant who kills a Liberi receives the dead Liberi's seed of immortality. The magical talents of the newly created Liberi are those that come from his or her ancestral god or goddess, not those of the dead Liberi who was the source of the seed. Click HERE to read an excerpt from chapter 1 on amazon.com.
Each Liberi is marked with a holographic glyph, usually on the hand, which represents the appropriate ancestral god or goddess and can be seen only by another Liberi. Each Liberi also has a unique magical power that corresponds to his or her godly ancestor. The good guys are led by Anderson Kane, an immortal with mysterious powers, and in the first two books, the haughty Olympians are led by the evil Konstantin. In essence, Anderson's group believes that the Liberi should use their supernatural powers to help make the world a better place, while the Olympians believe that they should spend their time purifying the ranks of the Liberi, which to them means purging all non-Greek Liberi.
Both the Olympians and Anderson's Liberi are always on the lookout for descendants and unallied Liberi. The Olympians try to coerce the Greek Liberi into joining them, and they generally kill the non-Greek Liberi, whom they believe are weak and worthless. Anderson's group tries to save all descendants and Liberi, creating fake personal records to hide them from the Olympians.
Into this world stumbles our heroine, Nikki Glass, who is a talented private detective with excellent tracking skills. As the story opens, Nikki is in the middle of a case in which her client (Emmitt) wants her help in saving his girlfriend from a religious cult—or at least that is the story he tells her. One dark and stormy night, Emmitt asks Nikki to meet him at the cult's residence, and she uneasily does so, only to fall into a terrible trap that changes her life forever. Nikki finds herself in the middle of a small group of crazies who claim to be descended from gods and goddesses and who blame her for Emmitt's death. After they brutally beat her up, they throw her in a prison cell, accusing her of being an Olympian spy. Eventually, some of them soften towards Nikki, but by this time she wants no part of them, even after they tell her all about the descendants and the Liberi and tell her that she is one of them (a descendant of Artemis) and is now immortal. Oh...and they claim that they are the good guys. Right! Nikki's too smart to believe that!