Let me start out by telling you the absolute worst thing about this book: the fact that it's over. I'm finished with the damn thing and I don't know how I am going to be able to wait to find out what will happen next.
The story begins with Cassie awaiting her coronation as Pythia. Mircea has her under constant guard; Pritkin is inundating her with self-defense training. Obviously, they're taking the threat of an attack very seriously. And they're right. A mysterious force targets Cassie in an assault and no one can understand how it was done. So Pritkin goes on a journey to Faerie to see what information he can dig up.
The only time the book dragged for me was in his absence. And perhaps Mircea fans will disagree, because for 100 pages or so, it's a Mircea-thon. He accompanies Cassie back in time to see her mother. But the plans get turned asunder as Mommy is kidnapped and attacked by dark mages. The rest of the action in the book centers on keeping Cassie's mother alive and figuring out what is behind the malevolent force targeting Cassie, herself.
But to me, all of that is window dressing for the fantastic interpersonal stuff that happens in this book. Cassie still isn't sure where she stands with Mircea and that confusion is compounded by his insistence on inflicting his will upon her. We get little more insight into his feelings for her as the book progresses. But where the story really shines is when the focus is on Cassie and Pritkin. He comes through for her time and time again; he is reliable; he is constant; he is selfless; and the sexual tension between them is Oh-My-God out of this world. Every book, I find myself wondering if this will be the one where Cassie realizes what she means to him --and what he means to her... Will this be the one where they finally, er, do the damn deed?
I won't spoil you with the answers, but the journey is both amazing and riveting.
A couple of the action sequences were just a bit too long for my taste, and the mythological motivations explaining the main story arc were a bit complicated. But the climax was fantastic. And the ending left me gutted. We've got a big cliffhanger here; a powerful one. And I don't want to wait! Karen Chance, you are a cruel woman. I don't even know when the next book comes out. 5 stars. *ARC Provided by Penguin