What took me so long to try this series? OK, I know the answer to that. I've seen mixed reviews. Some people really, really liked it, while others took issue with a few particular elements that essentially ruined the book for them. I came out on the side of those who enjoyed it. I found it a fun and entertaining ride.
Shiarra is a private investigator who works in a world where the supernatural exists. The "Others" came out after September 11th, making awareness of them relatively new, but the knowledge has been out there long enough that there isn't mass hysteria. Shiarra doesn't work with the Others as a rule (mostly because they scare the pants off her.) But her business is in dire financial trouble and a magi offers her a job too lucrative to refuse.
Her mission is to recover a powerful device from an ancient vamp. Royce is sexy, scary and older than dirt. And it takes him no time at all to realize what Shia is after. So she basically gets stuck between two supernatural factions --and somehow ends up more powerful than anyone could have predicted.
I won't spoil the details of the plot, but I will say that I found the progression of Shiarra's character interesting. When I said she was afraid, that was a huge understatement. She was terrified, but over the course of the book, she became pretty bad ass. I know some readers didn't like the Shiarra at the beginning of the book: the quivering bundle of nerves who broke up with her boyfriend because he was a were. But I think the reason we meet Shiarra this way is to be able to appreciate the contrast when we see what she becomes... and the struggles she continues to have as she works to overcome her fears.
I like the cast of characters... the supportive best friend, the nerdy Magi, the earnest ex and the sexy vamp. Yes, some of the names are unfortunate (ie. Shiarra and Chaz,) but Jess Haines made me feel like I had a vested interest in them all. I loved Arnold and Chaz --and I was intrigued by Royce. And I believed in each role that they played in Shiarra's mission. I liked the world-building. It's simple and easy to understand. It has a similar feel to Kim Harrison's The Hollows world, but it's not a copycat by any stretch. It has mostly traditional UF elements with its own little quirks.
There's not quite a romance, but there's a hint of one (or two) --enough to satisfy my need for a love interest. There is no sex, though. I would have liked to see more of Royce --there was lot of build up there-- but I feel like it's more of a setup on him for future books.
I'm definitely going to keep reading to see what happens next.