ARC Review: Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

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Dead Heat
Author: Patricia Briggs
Release Date: March 3rd 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Alpha and Omega #4
Rating: B –


Dead Heat is the long awaited fourth book in Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series. While this series can be read without reading the Mercy Thompson books (to which it has strong ties), I would highly recommend reading the Alpha and Omega stories in order, due to the world’s politics.

Taking a trip down to Arizona to buy a horse and see an old friend should’ve been a simple journey for mated werewolves, Anna and Charles Cornick. Unfortunately, things rarely go as planned for the pair, as they quickly find themselves in the middle of an investigation. Something has been hunting children in town and has made the mistake of attacking a family considered Pack. All signs are pointing to the Fae, even though they’ve all quarantined themselves away. Anna and Charles will have to step lightly as they look into the attack to avoid tipping the scales on the cold war between the Fae and humans.

At this point in the series, most of the dust between Anna and Charles has settled. They seem to have reached a point in their relationship where they’re both feeling secure and that shows here. There’s some mild tension between them about the possibility of a baby, but that takes an extreme backseat compared to the other things happening. I’m a huge fan of internal conflict between protagonists, so I definitely missed the tension in Charles and Anna’s relationship throughout Dead Heat.
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Night Broken

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Night Broken
Author: Patricia Briggs
Published: 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Mercy Thompson #8
Rating: D +


Night Broken is number eight in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series and my introduction to the books.

After a late night visit from Fae Lord, Alistair Beauclaire, Mercy is given seven days to retrieve an artifact from Coyote. Unfortunately, no one seems to know how to find him and Mercy isn’t currently at the top of her game. A panicked phone call had forced Mercy and her husband, Adam, to open their home to his ex-wife, Christy. Now Christy is living with them as they protect her from a homicidal stalker.

Briggs is an engaging writer, but I have a problem with the fact that the rape of her heroines is a device she uses repeatedly. I found it hard enough to deal with it in her Alpha and Omega series, whose heroine has a brutal history of being repeatedly gang raped. So, I wasn’t chomping at the bit to dive into these books since I knew that, in one of the earlier stories, Mercy is sexually assaulted. In Night Broken, I was a little disturbed by how the rape was referred to consistently as just an assault. If I hadn’t known about it prior to going into the story I would’ve assumed that Mercy had just been beat-up. I was also horrified that there’s a video of it floating around, which almost everyone seems to have seen. I was further disturbed by the fact that everyone ignores what happened to Mercy and instead concentrates on how awesome/terrifying Adam was in it when he took out her attacker. This is not what should be concentrated on here. Why does it seems like the tape is getting passed around? Why does no one in this book see it as an extreme violation to have seen this tape? Why isn’t Mercy more upset by it? I really despised how this aspect was handled throughout the story.

Originally, I had chosen to start with this Mercy book because the plot interested me the most. I’m a sucker for stories where established relationships are going through a difficult time while danger stalks them. However, it didn’t work for me here. Mercy is having a tough time as Christy attempts to manipulate her way back into Adam’s life. Instead of doing anything about it, Mercy just keeps quiet. She constantly plays the martyr throughout this novel. By the end, I was so tired of her accepting the blame for every issue that arose and trying to take the heat for people who were at fault.

I also had a huge problem with how Adam handled Christy. He did nothing to protect his relationship with Mercy. If anything, I would say that he piled onto the issue by catering to Christy’s requests. I wasn’t on board with the excuse for his actions being that he didn’t want Mercy to look jealous and petty. I can understand (sort of) why Mercy would be concerned about everyone seeing her that way, as she’s trying to win people over. However, why is Adam so concerned by it? He’s in charge and people seem to adore him. Setting some clear boundaries and backing-up his wife instead of his ex should’ve been a no-brainer. I was further frustrated at how, by the end, nothing came from all the drama with Christy’s manipulations. We spent the majority of the book on Mercy’s angst around the topic and there was no real conclusion to it. The only thing I can think of is that Christy will still be flitting around in the next book and that’s why there was no closure there.

Despite my issues with the novel, I enjoyed the plot around Christy’s stalker and Briggs’ writing style is very smooth. It’s what kept me reading. However, I won’t be picking-up another Mercy book. I didn’t enjoy the characters, or their relationships with each other, enough to read another one. I’ll be sticking with just Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series for now.

Thirteen

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Thirteen

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Published: 2012

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld #13

Rating: A


Thirteen is the final book for Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld. While I’m very sad to see the end of one of my favorite series, I’m also glad that Armstrong chose not to drag it out until she was beating a dead horse.

The world is turning to chaos as the Supernatural Liberation Movement sets into motion their plans to expose the supernatural population. With powerful demons now choosing sides, all the factions of the Otherworld must work together if they hope to successfully stop the movement. Still caught in the middle of the brewing war is Savannah Levine, who has yet to completely regain her powers.

Even though Thirteen is told primarily from Savannah’s point of view, this is definitely everyone’s story. Her character arc is mostly over near the beginning, so the focus shifts fully to the impending battle as everyone pulls together. With things completely out of control, Savannah is just along for the ride at different points, as other character’s take the wheel. I really loved that we got one chapter from the viewpoint of each of the previous narrators in the series. Armstrong executed this wonderfully as all of those chapters worked to move the plot forward. It also seemed critical that they be told from that particular person’s point of view, rather than Savannah’s. So, it was a nice nod to all the main characters without interrupting the story’s flow.

My only confusion here is that, by the end, I felt like there should’ve been a novel for Cassandra. Cassandra has been a reoccurring character since Stolen and, while I don’t believe that we need a full length book for every character, she played an oddly large part here. She also seemed to have had a character arc happen off-page, which is the main reason I felt like there should’ve been a story for her. She does have a short story (found in Otherworld Nights) that touches briefly on it, but her change felt bigger than that.

All in all, this was a fantastic ending to the series that left a few open possibilities for Armstrong to explore in her novellas. So, while we may not get another full length Otherworld book, I’m glad that we are still getting small tidbits every now and then.

Bayou Moon

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Bayou Moon

Author: Ilona Andrews

Publish Date: 2010

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Edge, book 2

Rating: A


After being disappointed by the first book in Ilona Andrew’s Edge series (On the Edge), I went into Bayou Moon with some hesitation. Luckily, the things that annoyed me in On the Edge (mostly the overbearing and overly powerful male protagonist) were not present here. In fact, it seems like the Andrews’ writing team have found their footing with this installment. Bayou Moon is rich in world building, includes some intriguing new characters, and has quickly become one of my favorite books.

Cherise Mar’s parents have gone missing, leaving her in charge of an extended family group and their estate. In a race to get back home with some much needed paperwork, Cherise runs into William, a wolf shifter. William has been hired to discover what a notorious killer is searching for and turn it over to an elite intelligence agency calling itself the Mirror. As luck would have it, what the killer is seeking has something to do with the Mar family. So, William and Cherise must work together to stop the killer from cutting a bloody path through the family to get what he wants.

I really loved the atmosphere of Bayou Moon. Andrews’ dedicated a lot of time to building the world of the Edge and the part we see throughout this story is reminiscent of hardcore Cajun country. It’s a very swampy, remote, and muddy setting that the characters are working with, which is one of the favorite types of atmospheres.  The downside to this is that at times it slowed down the pacing of the story down at times as there were a lot of details that needed to be covered about the general set-up of the world and understanding the Mar family dynamics. At the center of all the action is William and Cherise who are trying to deal with holding off a killer and settling some bloody family feuds.

One reason why I always love to pick-up an Andrews book is because I know the heroine will be well-rounded and dynamic character. Cherise was not a disappointment on this front. She handles all the chaos thrown at her with as much sanity as she can but still has justifiable worries, mistakes, and breakdowns throughout the story to make her human. One of the things thrown in her path is William who is a wolf shifter. In this universe shifters are looked at as unstable and often prosecuted just for existing. So, William tries his best to hide what he is from those around him in fear of being hunted down. The way Andrews writes William is one of the highlights of the story for me. There’s something slightly off about his mannerisms and how he just can’t seem to completely grasp all the nuances of normal social interactions that makes him fascinating.

All in all, a really fantastic read and I can’t wait to pick-up Fate’s Edge, the next installment in the series.

Otherworld Nights by Kelley Armstrong


Otherworld Nights: An Anthology
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publish Date: October 28 2014

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Women of the Otherworld, anthology collection #3
Rating: A


Otherworld Nights: An Anthology is the third collection of short stories Kelley Armstrong has written for her Women of the Otherworld series. All of which have been previously published with the exception of the last story Vanishing Act which features Savannah and Adam. It was great to dive back into the series. Armstrong is an author who I have absolutely no issue going back and re-reading her work. So, despite already having read most of these stories, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

Fans of Elena and Clay (Bitten, Stolen, Broken, Frostbitten) will love that there are two very well fleshed-out stories and one quick short featuring the pair. Stalked was originally published in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon and was probably my favorite out of the three because they left the kids at home. This made the dynamic between them a little more reminiscent of the early books in the series, which I’ll admit I have missed. Hidden was a great novella featuring Clay, Elena, and the kids as they attempted to have a Christmas to themselves. I loved the slow build-up of suspense and how Armstrong handled the personal dilemma Elena was facing concerning the twins. From Russia with Love was a very quick short, which had been included in the hardcover of Thirteen. This one acted as a kind of epilogue for Elena and the Pack. I’ll admit that I haven’t gotten around to reading Thirteen yet, but I don’t think anything was spoiled by reading this.

There were also two more stories which stayed with Armstrong’s werewolves. Chivalrous featured the new recruit, Reese, and told the background of why he needed to run from Australia to seek refuge with the American pack. As a prequel to Bounty Hunt, which will be released in December 2014, it was a good teaser and I look forward to seeing how Reese’s story will continue.

Lucifer’s Daughter is my favorite out of this collection and was originally featured in Blood Lite II: Overbite. The story focuses on Hope and Karl as they deal with an escaped demon at a museum gala. I have a serious soft spot for this pair and loved every minute of their story.

Twilight was originally featured in Many Bloody Returns and centers on Cassandra. I’m not a huge fan of the character, so this was one of the few stories included that I had never read. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. It centers on Cassandra’s fear that her vampiric life may slowly be ending. My only complaint is that it ended rather abruptly and didn’t feel like a lot of the questions raised were concluded.

Demonology was originally published as a free short story on Armstrong’s website. It features Adam’s mother as she goes on a quest to find help and answers for her son. It was interesting, but very short and a little abrupt.

Vanishing Act was the new short story included in this anthology. It features Savannah and Adam as they handle the aftermath of a demon summoning case gone wrong. It was a nice change of pace to get a fully fleshed-out story in the collection that didn’t center on the werewolves. It also worked as a nice incentive for me to pick-up the last three books in the series, which I have been avoiding since I had never gotten into Savannah’s character. However, Armstrong managed to make me interested Savannah and I look forward to going back to read her journey to this point in life.

All in all, a really great collection that any fan of Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series will love.

Ebook provided by Netgalley and the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review