Series: WARRIORS OF THE RIFT
Plot Type: Soul Mate Romance (SMR)
Ratings: Violence--4; Sensuality--4; Humor--2-3
Publisher and Titles: Grand Central
"Into the Rift" (prequel e-book story, 5/2012)
Kiss of the Vampire (2/2012)
Secret of the Wolf (7/2012)
Heart of the Demon (2/2013)
In the meantime, Finn's kinda/sorta girlfriend, Keira O'Brien, is also being asked to spy on the rogues, having been blackmailed into the job by Caladh, a council member who has learned some damaging information about Keira's past. Keira is a fey who was a grifter with a long criminal record before she came to earth. She still loves the rush she gets during a con job, but she is determined to go straight. Keira and Finn are wildly attracted to one another and have had one passionate night together, but they are both wary of long-term relationships.
The plot mostly follows the love story as Finn and Keira are each startled to find the other at the rogue's meetings, both pretending to be true followers of the rogue leader, Stefan Liuz (who is actually the villainous Natchook, whom we met in book 1). Both Finn and Keira believe that the other is a traitor, but that doesn't temper the lustful attraction between them.
In the action part of the plot, Stefan puts Finn and Keira through a series of tests to determine their loyalty. Eventually, of course, there is a climactic show-down scene where everything gets sorted out, one way or another.
This book is thinner on plot and heavier on soul-mate romance than the previous two novels in this series. The lead lovers are relatively shallow in character, motivated primarily by their sex drives, not by their moral sense. For example, even though Keira totally believes that Finn killed a prominent Council member on Stefan's orders, she still can't stay out of his bed. And even though Keira claims to be on the straight and narrow, Finn watches her gleefully steal jewels and rob a bank on Stefan's orders, but that doesn't stop him from from jumping her bones every chance he gets. This all seems quite improbable because, in the end, these are two good people, so how could they not be repulsed by the other's seemingly immoral and traitorous behavior?
The lack of plot complexity makes this a slow-moving story. We just watch Stefan put the couple through one similar test after another, and then there's the big showdown at the end—interspersed with graphic love scenes. So...not really enough going on to hold my interest. After you've read one of the love scenes, you'll find that the rest are pretty much just duplicates.
The epilogue introduces an all-new character—Bartholomew Maxwell ("Ash") Asher, a Council liaison, so I assume that he will be the hero of the next book. Click HERE to read an excerpt from Heart of the Demon.
In this world, all supernaturals have arrived on Earth in non-corporeal form from distant planets or realms, traveling through a dimensional rift caused by the Moore-Creasy-Devon comet, which cycles past Earth every 73 years. Here, a character describes the process: "The comet goes by and temporarily opens a rift, a hole, between the two dimensions. Picture it like sliding down a zipper...The opening at the top gets wider the farther down you unzip. Entities spill into this dimension all along the opening, more of them toward the top and middle as it widens....Then as the comet gets farther away from Earth,...it's like the release of the effects of gravity snaps the zipper tab back the other way, closing it." (Secret of the Wolf, pp. 212-213)
In the series opener, the heroine is Nix de la Fuente, a human-demon hybrid whose incubus mother drained and killed her human father when she was a child. Nix was raised in a cruel and hostile environment by her demon-hating human grandmother, who left Nix with a lot of emotional scars. Now, Nix works as the human liaison between the Council of Preternaturals and the Scottsdale, Arizona, police department, and she religiously practices Tai Chi so that she can keep her demon nature under control. As the story opens, Nix and her partner, Dante MacMillan, are investigating their second vampire murder in two days. This time, the victim is Nix's friend, Amarinda, who has been mauled and eviscerated. As Nix and Dante are discussing the case, they are unexpectedly joined by Nix's former flame, Tobias Caine, a vampire who moved away to another city after the couple broke up five years ago.
Tobias came through the rift 219 years ago in pursuit of the assassin who murdered his leader. In Tobias' former dimension, he was an Enforcer of the High Law, and the killer (Natchook) had pretended to be his friend, so the murder was very personal for Tobias. Unfortunately, Natchook is ensconced in a human host, so Tobias doesn't know what he looks like now, but he does remember Natchook's scent. As more mutilated vampire corpses accumulate, the trio finds evidence that Amarinda was involved with an underground group of prets who are developing technology to enable radio transmissions through the rift, which could cause huge problems for both prets and humans alike (although there is no real explanation as to what exactly those problems might be). When Tobias picks up Natchook's scent at one of the murder scenes, he takes off in hot pursuit. By the end of the book, both Tobias and Nix are forced to lay their lives on the line for one another (in the tradition of most paranormal soul mates). Not to worry though, this is a paranormal romance, so there's definitely an HEA. The ending leaves the radio transmission part of the story unresolved.
Now for the romance: At the beginning of the story, Nix and Tobias still love one another, but neither will admit it to the other. Tobias left Nix because he was afraid that he was the cause of her difficulties in keeping her demon side under control, but he didn't tell her that. He just left. Nix has always believed that Tobias left her because she is a lowly demon. Demons are considered to be the dregs of pret society and are particularly denigrated by the socially superior vampires. Pretty soon, the mutual attraction between Nix and Tobias takes over, though, and old hurts are (way too quickly) forgotten. Dante, the human in this crime-fighting trio, has been attracted to Nix, but when he sees the sparks flying between Nix and Tobias, he backs off. As Dante accompanies the star-crossed lovers on their various interviews and crime scene visits, he provides welcome comic relief, with his wisecracks and sarcastic gibes.
This book has the awkwardness frequently found in first novels and in series introductions. The mythology needs a bit of polishing because the whole rift/preternatural/human host process is just sketched in, without sufficient detail to provide a clear picture of how it all works. For example, if an ED is a non-corporeal essence residing in a human body, why is Nix part demon. Although her mother's human body is hosting a demon, it's still a human body, so why isn't Nix all human? Does the spiritual essence somehow alter the host's DNA? The narrative provides no clues. Nix's situation at the end of the story also raises questions. I can't really go into the details without a spoiler, but I will say that the process by which humans acquire the traits of various preternaturals definitely needs more clarification. The best part of the book is the dialogue that includes Dante, whose character is the most entertaining and realistic in the book. Nix and Tobias are relatively one-dimensional, particularly Tobias. Although he has been chasing after Natchook for more than two centuries, he doesn't show much passion. The relationship between Tobias and Nix is stereotypical, with angst-filled monologues followed by simmering but unfulfilled lust—until they break down the barriers between them. Then, it's lust all the way, all the time. Unfortunately, their relationship doesn't seem to go any deeper than the physical attraction, and they never really have a conversation about anything beyond their murder case, their bad break up, or their lustful feelings—but no real emotional connection.
Click HERE to read a deleted scene from Kiss of the Vampire. Click HERE to read character interviews with Nix and Tobias.
BOOK 2: Secret of the Wolf
Click HERE to go to a page on the author's web site with photographs of key landmarks in Old Town Scottsdale that are important to the plot of Secret of the Wolf.