Author: Jennifer Lyon (Pseudonym for Jennifer Apodaca)
Series: WING SLAYER HUNTERS (SMR)
Ratings: V4; S4; H2
Publisher and Titles: Ballantine
Blood Magic (2009) (Axel & Darcy)
Soul Magic (2009) (Sutton & Carla)
Night Magic (2011) (Phoenix & Ailish)
Sinful Magic (2011) (Kieran & Roxy)
The Wing Slayer Hunters, who are the heroes of this series, are trying to reconnect with their creator/god, the Wing Slayer, so that they will have the strength to break the curse. They protect earth witches while trying to stay as far away from them as possible so that they are not tempted by their blood. The Wing Slayers get rid of their blood lust by turning it into good old-fashioned sexual lust. The good witches (and these are the heroines) are mostly in hiding, fearful of all hunters. (Smart girls!)
If this all sounds a bit complex, you're absolutely right. And one big problem is that you don't get much of this information until you're more than halfway through the first book. Lyon would have been better off writing a prologue that explained her mythology so that she could just go on to tell the actual story without having to interweave a myriad of world-building details and mythic narratives about past events into the plot, especially in book 1.
In each book, a hunter/witch couple goes through a mind-boggling series of trials and tribulations until the hunter finally gets his (literal) wings and the two lovers achieve immortality. The first book tells the story of the leader of the Wing Slayer Hunters, Axel Locke, and his witchy lady, Darcy MacAlister.
Sutton West saved Dr. Carla Fisk's life and touched her blood in the climactic battle at the end of Blood Magic. Sutton is the Wing Slayers' computer expert, and Carla is a psychologist (and a witch). As Soul Magic opens, Sutton is obsessed with Carla, going from feelings of blood lust to sexual lust and back again. Meanwhile, Carla is having visions of herself on the astral plain with Sutton and with her twin sister Keri, who was murdered by a rogue hunter. Eventually, Carla discovers that Keri's spirit is imprisoned in a silver knife that is in the possession of a psychic rogue hunter who goes by the pseudonymous name of Styxx. The Wing Slayer Hunters discover that Styxx is brainwashing mortal women and programming them to kill Wing Slayers. Styxx is also attempting to control Carla through her connection with her twin. As lustful feelings build higher and higher between Carla and Sutton, he is sure that he is her soul mirror, but Carla is afraid that Keri is his real mate. In the midst of all this, there is a breech among the earth witches, with one of them (Silver) trying to take control and turn the other witches against Carla. Eventually, both Carla and Sutton are put into a life-death sacrifice situation in which each one must save the other. Angst levels are extremely high throughout the book as Carla tries not to fall for Sutton because she thinks that he belongs to Keri, and Sutton tries to fight off his rogue leanings so that he can prove to Carla that they belong together.
Night Magic tells the love story of Phoenix Torq and Ailish Donovan. As the story opens, Ailish has just returned to her hometown to die. When she was just 16, her demon-witch mother (Maeve) sold her to the demon Asmodeus in a contract that specified that Ailish would mate with the odious demon within eight years or she would die. Ailish has resisted Asmodeus all that time and now has just two weeks left before the contract ends—most likely with her death. Ailish is an earth witch, but she is also a siren who can enhance magic with her songs. Recently, Phoenix has been hearing singing in his head, and it is getting stronger and more compelling. He follows the songs to the source and is confronted by a kick-boxing blind witch wearing a demon's handfast binding on her wrist. (What a set of character traits!) Ailish was blinded by witch karma after she saved her friend from being strangled by Maeve. So...we have the hunter Phoenix (literally a mythological phoenix), who finds himself soul mirrored to a demon-bound witch. What a dilemma! If they complete the soul-mirror bond and she gives in to Asmodeus to save her life, Phoenix is condemning himself to a soulless death, but if they don't complete the bond, he can't help Ailish use her magic to break the demonic contract. You can guess that this situation creates mountains of angst-filled interior monologues for both of them. In another plot thread, Morgan's pregnancy is approaching the due date, and the rogues and the demon witches want to kill the baby. Once again—just as in the previous books—the lead couple must lay their lives on the line to save one another.
As Sinful Magic opens, graphic artist Kieran (Key) DeMicca is driven to draw pictures of witch kills made by his supposedly long-dead rogue brother, Liam. Key has no control over the drawings; they seem to flow from his colored pencils in times of great stress. Lately, the witch being killed in his drawings is a beautiful woman to whom Key is having an extremely lustful reaction. When he spots that woman at a Comic Con in Las Vegas, Key discovers that she is Roxanne (Roxy) Banfield, a fertility witch who works for her father's graphic arts production company. When they meet, Key discovers that Roxy is his soul mirror, and Roxy finds out that Key is her Awakening—the one who will bring her latent sexual powers to life. Both Key and Roxy have had the tragic childhoods typical of paranormal protagonists, and those terrible experiences inform all of their adult relationships. Roxy wants to suppress her witchy traits so that she can be a normal non-magical woman. Key wants to avoid all personal relationships in fear that he will once again cause harm to someone he loves. These misguided passions result in pages and pages of painful, angst-filled interior monologues. In the major plot line (other than the ups and downs of the romance), Key is stunned when Liam reappears in his life, attacking Roxy and tracking down and killing as many fertility witches as he can. Key thought that he had killed Liam ten years ago by stabbing him in the heart. Where has Liam been all these years? Why is he killing fertility witches? Key and his hunter buddies must track down Liam in order stop his killing spree. Key's alter image is a dragon named Dyfyr, and the man and the dragon must make inner peace before he and Roxy can go on to their HEA. In a climactic scene, both Roxy and Key must (like every other couple in this series) make the ultimate life-death sacrifice for one another.
From clues at the end of Sinful Magic, I'm guessing that the hero and heroine of the next book will be Ramsey (Ram) Virtos, the Wing Slayers' up-tight military strategist, and Shayla (Roxy's cousin), who is a rare infertility witch. Her mere presence can cause a man to become sterile—what a dating downer!
Above and beyond the complex world-building, this is a typical SMR series, with tons of angst followed by waves of passion, followed by even more angst, and so forth. The sex scenes are numerous because the witches' magic is sex-based—very appropriate for a paranormal romance series. On top of the elaborate and complicated supernatural history between the hunters and the witches, the earth witches have complexities of their own, as each witch's magic depends the frequent opening of her chakras and her third eye. If you're not familiar with new age spirituality, you'll probably need to brush up on those concepts. If you love paranormal romances starring immortal warriors, go to my Creature Search page and scroll down to the "Immortal Warriors" list of series for even more possibilities.
Click HERE to go to the page on Lyon's web site where she provides a brief bio and a link to an "interview" with each WING SLAYER hero.
Here are some quotations from the series that explain some of the mythological concepts:
The Wing Slayer and his hunters: "The Wing Slayer had created the witch hunters to hunt and kill demon witches while protecting innocent earth witches. Because the Wing Slayer was half demon and half god, invoking his god powers required complete and total acknowledgement from his witch hunters that he was their god. The demon Asmodeus had his demon witches cast the curse to break the bond between the Wing Slayer and his hunters so he could gain power on earth. It had been working until the five of them [the Wing Slayer Hunters] recommitted to the Wing Slayer, reinstating his god powers." (Soul Magic, p. 3)
The importance of sex to the Wing Slayer hunters: "Sex was how the hunters controlled their compulsion for witch blood. If they gave in to the compulsion and killed a witch, they lost their souls and went rogue—living only for the next 'fix' of witch blood....Losing interest in sex meant the curse was getting a foothold...." (Soul Magic, p. 2)
Soul mirrors: "In the soul-mirror couples so far, the tattoos on the witch hunter came to life, giving the hunter real wings and acting as a kind of familiar for the witch and helping her control her high magic. The way to find out if they were soul mirrors was usually for the hunter to touch the witch's blood..." (Sinful Magic, p. 51)