One of the things I like best about this series is that Thea Harrison really makes every book different. Yes, they're all set in this fabulous, sweeping world of the Elder Races and they feature the same core cast of characters. But the hero and heroine of each book are markedly different from those who have come before them. Their adventures are different --and so is their path to happiness. But this is also why some people may find the series uneven. What you love, love, love about one book --one couple-- won't be in the next book; and invariable some trope you can't stand is going to pop up.
For me, that's BDSM. I'm sick of it. Just... sick. Of. It. I know it's the thing right now, but I really felt like the whole element of it in this book was so unnecessary. Don't get me wrong, it's not a huge thing. It doesn't overwhelm the story or anything. It was just enough to annoy me. That being said, with the exception of about three or so scenes, I really did enjoy this book. (How's that for burying the lead?)
I've heard a lot of people say they didn't like Aryal before this book and I can understand that, but here you see she more of who she really is. She is an unapologetic bad-ass, who is powerful, loyal, and comfortable in her own skin. Does that make her a bitch? Well, I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. She's like a dog with a bone, to be sure. But she is as old as time, and she is smart. If something has set off her radar, it's for a reason.
Aryal knows Quentin is hiding secrets, but he's not the bad guy she thinks. He's done some unscrupulous things, but nothing in the realm of true villainy. Harrison does a great job, though, setting up both sides of their enmity for one another. And when their head-butting reaches a breaking point, Dragos sends them on a mission alone together, designed to force them to work through their issues. Ha! And boy, do they ever.
I love that both these characters are so strong --but that neither has to become less than the other for their relationship to come together. So often, one character (usually the woman) has to sublimate her strength to fit the parameters of the romance, but not here. Aryal stays Aryal... only she does it while falling in love with Quentin.
And the sex is hot. Even before there is actual sex, there is great sexual tension.
The adventure is fairly good too. Lots of action and danger.
I also really loved the fact that Aryal's animosity toward Pia is addressed. They resolution on this was one of my favorite things about the book!
Overall, I did enjoy the story. I just wish we could have checked the BDSM (and that stupid crop) on the cutting room floor.
*ARC Provided by Penguin