I went into this story with a little bit of trepidation. The last two Showalter books were not the best for me –and on top of that– I have never been that interested in Kane. But I am happy to say that I actually ended up enjoying this book more than I thought I would. Kane turned out to be a pretty good tortured hero; and his heroine turned out to be just as tortured, but with an inner strength that could not be denied.
As the story begins, Kane is recovering from his trip to hell. He had been tortured and raped by the demons. Now he wishes for nothing more than to defeat Disaster and die, himself. Josephina has other plans. She is the person who rescued Kane from hell, but she did it while demanding that he kill her for her efforts. It turns out that Josephina is the illegitimate daughter of a ruthless Fae king, and serves as the whipping girl for the princess. She can’t take her own life, but the punishments she has had to endure for her sister are beyond what she can bear. She knows Kane’s reputation and considers the proposition a win-win. As miserable as Kane is, there is something about Josephine that soothes him. Instead of killing her, he decides to journey to her own world to change her circumstances.
There is a lot going on in this book. I don’t feel like it was as bloated as Paris’s book, but it’s still got a lot of threads. There’s a side plot involving Cameo trying to find Pandora’s Box… and one for Torin (!) and what may be his path to a long overdue HEA. Some people might complain, but personally, I was excited for Torin to finally get some attention. He has been my favorite Lord since the series began. But I will admit that even though I have read every book in this series –and the Angels of the Dark– I was a little lost with some of the references to the Sent Ones and the Phoenix people. I guess after all of these books, there are just too many threads to keep straight.
I ended up liking Kane. It helps that I have a weak spot for tortured heroes. He has been through so much and his demon is so difficult. There were times he frustrated me, generally when he made stupid choices to appease Disaster, but for the most part he was a good guy. He tried to do the right thing by Josephina and give her the love and future she never dreamed she’d have. The thing is, my image of him from the previous books was almost like a caricature. He was the cartoon character who was always getting an anvil dropped on his head. It didn’t leave the door open for much character development. He was just the shmo always getting hit with a lamp or something. Now, we see there is so much more to him, including a relationship with his demon that is so much more contentious than any of the other Lords had with their own. Making it even worse, for the first time, a Lord’s demon DOESN’T want his mate and actively works against the romance. (I liked Josephina too, though all of his Tinkerbell nicknames for her started to grate on me after a time. )
I am pleased to say I didn’t feel a Message in this book like I did in the last angels installment, though it didn’t escape my notice that the only sex had outside of marriage was Bad sex (ie. rape, mindless sex with hookers, forced concubines, etc.) The love scenes we did get are better than in recent books –I could tell what was going on– though not quite as smoking as the earliest books in the series. I guess you could say we’re splitting the difference between fiery-hot and tepid. I was ok with it.
The ending was cool. It wasn’t quite the showstopper that Aeron’s book had, but it’s in the same vein. Overall, I liked it –and I am excited that Torin’s book is finally next. I just hope his HEA is the other chick in the prison. A 17 year-old mate is a little tough to contemplate.
Rating: B*ARC Provided by Harlequin