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Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Author: Rhyannon Byrd
Plot Type: SMR
Ratings: V5; S4; H1
Publisher and Titles: HQN
     Edge of Hunger (2009)
     Edge of Danger (2009)
     Edge of Desire (2009)
     Touch of Seduction (2010)
     Touch of Surrender (2010)
     Touch of Temptation (2011)
     Rush of Darkness (2011)
     Rush of Pleasure (2011) (FINAL)

     A review of the seventh book, Rush of Darkness, follows an overview of the world-building for the series:

     This series tells the SMR stories of couples belonging to two groups of good-guy shape-shifters (the Merrick and the Watchmen) as they battle two very different enemies (the Casus and the Collective). The Merrick are shape shifters who exist in human form until their supernatural inner self awakens when an evil Casus comes after them. At that point, their need for blood and sex kicks in, and they develop their Merrick form and strength so that they can eliminate the Casus. Several of the characters have various psychic abilities in addition to their shifter talents. 

     Here are the good guys and the bad guys in the PRIMAL INSTINCT world:

The Merrick: Men and women who can shift to humanoid Merrick form, with talons, fangs, and super strength. They protect humans from the Casus.

The Watchmen: Men and women who work for the Consortium. They can shift to various animal forms. They monitor supernatural activity and train and provide back-up for the Merrick.

The Casus: Murderous monsters who can possess a human body, allowing it to shift to super-strong humanoid shape with wolf-like head, fangs, and claws. They want to kill all Merrick, and they want to free all of the Casus from centuries of imprisonment forced on them by the Merrick and the Consortium.

The Collective: Human (or maybe something else) fanatics who hate supernatural beings and want to kill them all.  In later books, the Collective allies with the Casus, but some collective members  realize that the Collective is becoming evil and choose to go over to the Watchmen (and the hero of Rush of Darkness is one of those men).

     Most books have a glossary of terms, which becomes more and more important as the series progresses because each of the groups changes slightly through alliances and mergers. Unfortunately, the glossary is not always in alphabetical order, so you have to search a bit to find particular terms.

     The heroes are all alphas, and the heroines, though feisty and independent, are sometimes relatively submissive when it comes to sex. Extreme distrust exists between the hero and heroine of each book most of the time. In addition, they usually have high levels of self-loathing, so the levels of angst and sexual tension are always extremely high. There is also a high degree of mistrust among all of the characters in general, particularly when they belong to different groups or clans.

     The series story arc centers on the search for twelve Dark Markers, which are powerful metal crosses that hold the key to the imprisonment and destruction of the Casus. Both the Watchmen and the Casus are searching for them. The major villain of the series is Ross Westmore, who is a Kraven. The Kravens are descendants of female Deschanel vampires who were raped by Casus males prior to their imprisonment, and they have been treated rather badly by the Deschanel clan over the years. Westmore wants revenge for the treatment of the Kraven, but even more than that he wants the power that the Dark Markers can bring him. He's a true villain—totally evil, through and through.

        BOOK 7:  Rush of Darkness        
     Rush of Darkness tells the SMR story of Raine Spenser, A Deschanel/Alacea Vampire, and Seth McConnell, a human who was formerly a soldier for the Collective. In a previous book, Seth rescued Raine from imprisonment by the Casus, and that's where their mutual love/hate relationship began. As the story begins, Raine is in Paris, tracking down one of the Casus who murdered her sister. Just as Raine is on the brink of being recaptured, McConnell shows up and saves her once again. The couple is attracted to one another, but they both fight it. Both are dealing with huge amounts of guilt, rage, and grief about events from their past, and this causes the angst level to be immeasurably high all the way to the end. As the two track down more of the Casus, Westmore uses them as part of his diabolical plan to lure the Watchmen into a trap. Westmore also wants to recapture Raine; he is obsessed with her and wants to possess her completely. Since Westmore commanded his troops to gang rape Raine the last time he captured her, you can imagine how Seth and Raine feel about him. The apocalyptic ending seems at first to resolve some of the long-standing conflict, but then comes the Epilogue, which opens a whole new can of worms. Needless to say, there will be no peace for the Watchmen any time soon.

     This is a typical SMR series, with both the hero and heroine in each story having tragic pasts, lots of undeserved guilt feelings, and way too many misgivings about jumping into the soul-mate relationship. I recommend that you read the series from the beginning. It's really too complicated to jump into the middle. If you do that, you will have trouble understanding relationships among the characters and the groups.

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