BOOK 4: Wild Darkness
The romance plot centers on Helena (Lark's sister) and Faine Leviathan (Simon's brother). Faine is a 400-year-old half-demon, half-Lycian prince. Once again, the romance goes very smoothly, primarily because Faine has absolutely no faults. He is unfailingly thoughtful, polite, brave, smart, sexy, and just protective enough—but not to the point of smothering Helena's innate independent streak. Helena is also a one-note character: always feisty, intelligent, and courageous. She has only one flaw—her overwhelming feelings of guilt about events over which she had no control. (This is a fault commonly found in heroes and heroines in paranormal fiction—always taking the blame for tragic situations that they couldn't possibly have prevented.) Although the snarky dialogue between Helena and Faine is entertaining, their characters would be more interesting if they had either a few flaws or some kind of past tragedy in their lives.
In a secondary romance, Toshio (Tosh) Sato (human) and Delilah Sperry (werewolf), both U.S. Senators, finally get together for a few kisses and a meet-the-family dinner.
The action part of the plot follows Helena and her fellow Others as they fight hard against a proposed federal law that will strip them of all civil rights and force them to be micro-chipped and placed in detention camps. As the Others strategize, the separatists continue their violent attacks, and public opinion is divided. The resolution to the conflict doesn't come until the final few pages of the book, and it plays out very quickly. My only quibble with that resolution is this: Why did the Others wait so long to take the actions they finally took that led to the downfall of the PURITY leaders? (I can't say more or it will be a spoiler.)
Clan witches, who belong to organized clans and share their power through their fonts. Each clan is composed of two groups:
Commonwealth witches (90%), who are the non-governing members of a clan
Council witches (10%), members of the clan council who are born with much more power than commonwealth witches and are charged with leading and governing their clan
Outclan witches, who live independently and do not belong to any clan
Turned witches, who become "stuck" in their addiction to magick and burn away all of their powers until they are no longer considered to be witches. Some of them have allied with the mages and try to steal power from the witches.
The plot mostly follows Meriel and Dominic through the ups and downs of their developing relationship. I know that I have complained in the past about the high levels of angst in some of these SMR series, but now, ironically enough, my complaint is that there is no angst at all in this story. All of these characters are logical, reasonable people who don't hold grudges, don't sit around musing about the problems in their love lives, and don't misunderstand anything their lover says or does. These characters have watched way too much Dr. Phil because all they do is UNDERSTAND one another—to the point that I just wanted someone to get mad or pitch a hissy fit or do SOMETHING emotional (other than the sexy stuff—of which there is plenty). Even the initial mother-daughter antagonism between Meriel and Edwina gets mushied up in the end—so, no real drama there. And although Merial's feelings occasionally get hurt by something Dominick says or does, she is quick to analyze his emotional state and immediately forgive him. Dominic just spends the entire book worshiping her. So...the end result of all of these happy, Kumbayah moments is a somewhat static, boring book. The plot, which does sometimes interrupt the couple's mutual admiration society, involves evil mages, turned witches, and bigoted humans all of whom are the culprits in the kidnappings. One of Dominick's relatives also turns up among the villains. Click HERE to read an excerpt.
The Lycian are wolf shifters who are bigger and badder than regular werewolves and can shift at will, not just at the full moon. Their homeland is "across the Veil," whatever that means (it's not fully explained). Simon is 600 years old, and Lark is 25, but age doesn't seem to matter much. The romance is the primary focus of the story, with Simon worshipping Lark and Lark thinking that Simon is "adorable" and extremely sexy. The only bump in their romantic journey is that Simon sometimes gets a bit too protective as he responds to Lark's macho, tough-girl, take-no-prisoners attitude toward life. Their dialogues are so far from being normal conversations that it's hard not to just skip over them completely. They don't talk like people; they talk like cardboard characters in a really bad melodrama. At one point after Lark has told Simon a few things about her life, he actually says, "Thank you for sharing." Who talks like that to his girlfriend? (Answer, only Dr. Phil).
Book 3 will tell the love story of Gage Garrity and Molly Ryan as the Others come out to the public and a rush of violence and unrest follows.
This book begins in Chicago, where public relations expert Molly Ryan has just been outed as a witch. In response, her firm (which she founded) lost many of its clients and her partners have cast her out. One of the partners tells her, "For god's sake, you're an abomination and you had no business thinking you'd be allowed to stay here with what you are....You're a goddamned witch! How can we trust you now?" (p. 3) When Molly watches a TV broadcast in which Meriel Owen is bested by a PURITY-sympathizing interviewer, she applies for a job with the Owen clan as their PR voice to the media. One of the first persons Molly meets in Seattle is Gage Garrity, co-head of Owen security, and the sparks between the two begin to fly almost immediately.
The romance is the most important part of the plot, but the action story line carries the series story arc along quite nicely. In the first two books, the Owen witches battled other supernaturals: mages and the Magister. In this book, the villains are the PURITY fanatics, who take a series of increasingly violent actions against the Others. That part of the plot follows Molly as she digs into her new job and brings together a coalition of the three Others groups (vampires, shifters, and witches) and attempts to open peaceful talks with the humans, only to be undermined at every turn by PURITY, which has members everywhere, including the government and the police force.
This time around, the romance doesn't move along quite as smoothly as in the first two books. The romantic leads still spend much of their time praising their significant other to the skies, but they do have some major bumps in their road to romance. Molly holds in all of her grief and rage at losing her job and losing her foster father and sister to the Magister, while Gage suffers from that all-too-familiar alpha male complaint: I can't allow myself to love her because I can't protect her (which never makes much sense, but provides pages and pages of angst-filled interior monologues). As Gage tells his friend, Nell: "I can't protect her. I can't make a commitment to her or anyone else because I can't protect her. It's my job and I can't do it." (p. 287) In the end, they resolve their differences in the last page and a half of the book, way too quickly and with too little drama—kind of a let down, really, considering the amount of relationship turmoil that has been going on for the previous hundreds of pages.
The author does a good job with the PURITY plot, showing exactly how the bigoted PURITY leaders worm their way into being the voice of the humans. Although a few government officials stand with the Others, they are nearly swept away in the tidal wave of fear that PURITY unleashes across the country. All of this plays out in a believable, if horrifying, manner. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Going Under.
The fourth and final book will feature Simon's brother, Faine Leviathan, and his soul mate, Helena Jaansen, sister of Lark.