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Eileen Wilks

REVIEW:  Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks

REVIEW: Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks

Dear Ms. Wilks,

It’s not often that I’m tempted to write a love letter to the author of a book. Oh, I’ve had my fair share of books that make me deliriously happy when I read them, leading to reverent petting of the book cover and a special place on the “will read again” shelf. There’ve even been a few books that have convinced me to go sample the author’s backlist, mining for a gem similar to the one I just read. But never, ever, have I read the latest book in a new-to-me series and had the urge to beg, borrow and steal to get all of the previous books.

Ritual Magic Eileen WilksFBI agent Lily Yu has been through hell and back (literally) with her mate, Rule Turner, and their small army of friends and family members. Now they face their greatest test of all – the wedding. While wedding planning is stressful for just about any bride, it’s a nightmare for Lily, made worse by her critical and overbearing mother, Julia. Unfortunately, shortly before the big day, Lily’s mother is attacked by an unknown foe and suffers a memory loss that regresses her, mentally, back to age twelve. Even worse, similar symptoms show up in dozens of others, with no discernible connection to Julia. It’s up to Rule, Lily, Cullen and their unlikely band of lupi and magical compatriots to separate fact from fiction, friend from foe and get to the bottom of the mystery while keeping their souls intact.

While an incredible read, the book didn’t quite stand by itself – there were quite a few concepts and people that popped up leaving me scratching my head and flipping back pages, trying to figure out where they fit in to the master plan. A glossary and cast of characters would have been incredibly helpful in the first quarter of the book. Though, while the questions were mildly annoying, they weren’t enough to take me out of the story, and certainly not enough to have me putting the book aside. As the plot unfolded, you did an amazing job of seamlessly integrating events from the previous books so that things started making more sense. I think, though, that going back through the other books in the series could only enhance this one – and wouldn’t detract in any way from the experience.

I’m used to romantic protagonists being plagued by all manner of drama and misunderstandings, but this story didn’t revolve around anything like that. In fact, the characters showed amazing compassion and understanding toward each other – a gentle sweetness that was a beautiful counterpoint to the chaos surrounding them. There were no questions about their love for each other – not from a reader perspective, and not from a character perspective, even when everything in the world was in question. They managed to reach that absolute balance between “I” and “We.” It’s very rare to find a couple that works so perfectly as a team, complimenting each other even when there are disagreements as to methods.

Something held tight inside him unclenched. The sudden loss of tension left a dull smear of pain in its wake. His closed eyes stung. He’d needed this. Needed her, and now she was here. They leaned into each other. He inhaled deliberately, breathing her in.

Lily was neither lupus nor Rho, but she was responsible for her own control. No one could or should attempt to usurp that, no matter how much he loved her and how certain he was that she needed to let go. To let herself fall into tears or rage or whatever lay on the other side of the walls she’d put up.

The insertion of dark humor is not only welcome, but utterly appropriate to the setting. When dealing with difficult situations, including those surrounding events the rational mind and “normal” human beings can’t fully comprehend, sometimes dark, sometimes inappropriate humor lightens the mood and provides just enough distance to keep the issues from becoming utterly overwhelming – they highlight the ridiculous as a coping mechanism. And sometimes, even paranormal humans succumb to the occasional banalities.

The floor was finished, at least—and hadn’t that been a hassle, deciding what to use! Lily had leaned toward bamboo. Rule had been torn between the beauty of a dark-stained hardwood and the practicality of carpet, which offered better traction to a wolf’s paws. In the end, they’d gone with stained and polished concrete. It looked great, was highly customizable, and wouldn’t get scratched up by anyone’s claws.

In summation, this beautiful book was filled with an ephemeral blend of spicy romance, adrenaline-pounding action sequences, and a true, deep examination of human, and parahuman, emotion done in such a way as to be balanced rather than overwhelming. Thank you for the perfect escape and a novel I’m thrilled to hug to my chest happily. My arms are going to get crowded from trying to cuddle the whole series. B+

Mary Kate

In an effort to provide more coverage of paranormal romance and historical romance, I’ve been searching for additional reviewers.  Mary Kate is one of a couple we are going to try out here at Dear Author.  From Mary Kate:

As a reader who’s old enough to know better and young enough to not care, I’ve breezed through the gamut of everything books have to offer. As a child, I used to spend summer days happily ensconced in one of the Philadelphia public libraries, reading everything and anything I could get my hands on, thanks to the love and support of my parents and aunts – teachers, mothers and/or librarians all. One aunt started me with Nancy Drew books (whose pages are worn from hundreds of re-reads) while another thought I needed introduced to C.S. Lewis’s land of Narnia. By the time I was 8, I’d read everything the library’s children’s section had to offer and had “graduated” to the adult room downstairs. Fortunately for my very supportive parents’ sanity, I didn’t discover romances until college. My days are currently spent working in law enforcement (dispatchers unite!), working with first responders, and trying to dig my writer/editor/reviewer husband out from his latest pile of books. I’m a devoted fan of all manner of romance (though I prefer my romance to have a hint of laughter and self-awareness), mysteries, and urban fantasy.

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REVIEW: Death Magic by Eileen Wilks

REVIEW: Death Magic by Eileen Wilks

Dear Ms. Wilks:

I loved the first and second book in this series but as the worldbuilding evolved and became bigger, I felt like I lost an understanding of the world. The book started out as a Pack book for me (Pack = werewolf) and has been transmogrified into world where every kind of magic exists from dragons to sorcerers to shapeshifters. There is earth magic, fire magic, water magic, precogs, and with each new book, a new element is introduced. The first book in the series, Tempting Danger, introduces Lily Yu and Rule Turner. (I’ve not reviewed that book here, but I did review the second, Mortal Danger). Lily Yu is a former homicide detective and a touch sensitive who was recruited to be part of the Magical Crimes Division of the FBI. Her supervisor is Ruben Brooks.

Death Magic Eileen WilksAside: I do not recommend that any one start with this book. I think they would be lost. I was kind of lost and I’ve read all the books.  I do recommend Tempting Danger and Mortal Danger and the seventh in this series, Blood Challenge.  I think a reader could read those three and not be lost.   “Tempting Danger” and “Blood Challenge” are my favorite in this series.  Both focus strongly on the Pack and the romance between the main characters.

Rule Turner is a Lupi or werewolf and the designated heir of one of the strongest, wealthiest Packs in North America. He also wears the mantle of another pack, something that is not supposed to happen. Lupi have fated mates and Lily is Rule’s. Over the course of the series, Lily and Rule struggle with their matebond, a mystical connection that is so strong that it is affected by even distance. In “Death Magic”, Lily and Rule move ever more slowly toward an actual marriage ceremony. I’m not certain how much time has passed since book 1 of this series, but I think it is a bit more than a year.

An enemy of the Pack, an old and powerful god that the Lupi refer to as the “Great Bitch”, is rising up bringing to life old magics and dangers that have not been experienced in centuries. “Death Magic” is a continuation of this overarching plot about the “Great Bitch” and her nebulous plans. Ruben’s precog gift is foretelling something dire and it is up to Lily, Rule, and the other members of their respective clans to discover what they can do to prevent the negative outcome foreseen by Ruben. Ruben sets up a Shadow Unit, to work outside of the Bureau and by the book Lily finds herself conflicted when Ruben asks her to join. Rule is more sanguine. He’s an “end justifies the means” kind of guy and doesn’t see a problem with Lily joining Ruben in order to stop a greater evil.

Lily’s hand is forced when Ruben is accused of killing a Senator.  Tensions are further raised when the Humans First, an anti magical group, gains in power and violence.  Finally, Lily’s life is in jeopardy as she begins to experience strange illnesses that may or may not be connected to a Lupi related power she acquired in a previous book.

While Ruben, a figure that has appeared briefly in all previous books, gets more face time and an interesting storyline, I wasn’t fully engaged. I think it comes down to my own expectations for this series. It’s called World of the Lupi, but I feel that the Lupi often aren’t the focus, but the world surrounding the Lupi is. For readers looking for a broad, full and diverse urban fantasy series with some romance, I think this is very satisfying. For someone who is looking for a strong romance arc in each book, I think some of the books including “Death Magic” will be a disappointment.

The great thing about this series is the diversity. There is diversity in race and religion both on the “good” and the “bad” sides. An effort seems to be made to show each character as an individual instead of a representative token for a particular subset of society. I guess my major problem is that I expected this book to be paranormal romance and instead it is more urban fantasy. I feel emotionally distanced from these characters and would like to see more movement in the romance/relationship. It doesn’t have the visceral emotional power of my favorites but it does move the plot forward.  B-

Best regards,

Jane

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