Reviewed: December 18, 2011
Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Series: Night Huntress, Book 3
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 352 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Being notorious has its privileges, but it's not doing much for Cat's job lately. The indiscriminate undead are seeing through even her best disguises and her reputation as the deadly Red Reaper precedes her far and wide. The usual shtick, using herself as bait to bring down the vampires who kill humans, is becoming less and less successful.
Vampire hubby Bones isn't exactly bemoaning his kitten taking a different tack, though. There's only so much groping of his wife a bloke both wildly in love and viciously dangerous can stand before the bloodbaths start. A change in plan may be just what her whole team needs.
Pity the change they adopt doesn't go so well. More of a problem is how the galactic fail leads Cat straight into a painful reunion with dear old dad. And in Cat's world, "painful" means bloody, gaping wounds and torture to the point of death.
As if barely surviving her father Max's not-so-tender ministrations isn't enough, there's an ancient and powerful force of evil backing him, and Cat is little more than collateral damage in the grand scheme. Humbling, really. But humbling is better than the gut churning sense of doom that comes from finding out who is pulling Max's strings...and who her real target is. She's a two thousand year old vampire worshiped as a goddess by her followers and feared as a tyrant by her enemies...in those brief moments before she decimates them all, anyway.
And Bones is next on her to-do list.
Okay, truth is, if a book's got Cat and Bones in it, I'm a fan. I love them together, I love them individually (Bones especially), I just love them. The stories about their exploits are some of my absolute favorites in the UF/UF Romance subgenres even if there are some books in the series I like more than others.
This one isn't one of my favorites, but it has two things in particular that set it apart from the rest. It's the first book that I felt had a genuine separation from the lingering patina of BtVS-ness I've mentioned in my reviews of the first two books. Other than Bones still reminding me vaguely of a far more mature and seriously bad-ass Spike (that particular trait can linger as long as it wants, as far as I'm concerned), this is the first one where the story and the characters didn't give me BtVS flashbacks. That's a point in its favor, for sure.
The other major point in its favor? Hello, Vlad, great to meet you!
I had some problems, though, with this book.
The concept for the plot was solid and Cat continues to evolve as the main character. There were several developments that I thought were wonderful, decisions she makes and actions she takes that were absolutely perfect for her and for the story. She's grown and matured nicely over the last three books, and that's something I much appreciate. The action is high octane and top notch, as always, and the depth of emotion the story ripped from my heart was distressingly impressive.
The transitions between story elements in this book as the plot progressed and major plot points were revealed, though, seemed very abrupt, making the narrative flow feel jerky and awkward in places. There were one or two times I had to go back and reread passages because it almost seemed like I missed a page between one part of the story and the next. It's disconcerting to be pulled out of the story like that.
Besides that, the Big Bad in this book never really came front-and-center in the story, and she never quite stirred in me the level of dread and fear for a painful, bloody end that would have make her plotline suspenseful. What she did was horrible, the weapons she used terrible, but the weapons inspired more tension than she did as the Big Bad. Who she was never factored for me at all. She may have been the High Priestess of All Things Anathema to her own kind (the sane ones, anyway), but her lack of presence compromised my ability to be see her as a serious threat. And when Mencheres' issues were tossed into the mix concerning her, I lost a little respect for him over how he handled it.
Still, this is such a stellar series. The journey that Cat and Bones are on is such a fantastic combination of sweeping, epic romance and dark, gritty urban fantasy. It's one of a kind; it's a yardstick by which to measure the rest in a crowded field. It's sexy and daring. It's fun. It's a lot of fun. And in the grand scheme, even a book that wasn't quite as smooth or effective as the two books that preceded it is just so damn awesome it shouldn't be missed. Nor, frankly, should this series.
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