Dear Ms Andrews,
I must confess, I am a fan. You are one of those authors I count on to consistently deliver good stories. The presence of your name on the cover of a book will motivate me to buy what I would otherwise pass. I’m hooked on your Kate Daniels series of Urban Fantasy novels. I enjoy the way you twist tired genre tropes in your Kinsmen series of Sci-fi Romance ebook novellas. I adore the excitement, intricacy and interconnectedness of your Edge series of Fantasy Romance novels, the third and most recent installment of which, Fate’s Edge, is reviewed here today.
Unfortunately, intricacy and interconnectedness have their price in that they tend to make later books in a series less accessible to new readers. Though I enjoyed Fate’s Edge and look forward to the next book in the series, I was left wondering whether the plot threads and characters carried in from earlier books would intrigue new readers or alienate them.
Like other heroines in this series, Audrey Callahan lives in the Edge, a hardscrabble, half-magical borderland between the Broken—the modern North America we know and love—and the Weird, an alternate North America which, with all of its monsters, mayhem and magical devices, more than lives up to its name. Audrey comes from a family of grifters, but where most Edge families stick up for each other, Audrey’s family used and neglected her in favor of her drug addicted brother. She reluctantly agrees to one last heist for an unknown buyer in order to sever her ties with her family.
Kaldar Mar is exactly the sort of handsome, smooth-talking con man Audrey knows she should avoid, but he’s also the secret agent tasked with recovering the item she stole. And he’s not the only one after her. With evil agents of the Hand close on their trail, Kaldar and Audrey must combine their talents for conning and thievery in order to find and regain the dangerous device. Along for the adventure are stowaway brothers Jack and George whom fans of the series will recognize as Rose’s brothers from the first Edge book, On the Edge, and Kaldar’s ward, Gaston, whom we met in book two, Bayou Moon.
I enjoyed the way this book started with the events that bring this group of adventurers together. It filled me in on what life was like for Jack, George, and, to a lesser extent, Gaston, since I last saw them in earlier books. It also served to establish Kaldar’s and Audrey’s excellence in the arts of deception. Though it takes a while for them to meet, when they do, the scene is a very fun contest of cons with each trying to manipulate the other.
In addition to scenes shown from the hero’s and heroine’s points of view, Fate’s Edge gives the reader several scenes from Jack’s point of view and some scenes written from the villains’ points of view, too. I enjoyed your POV choices, and especially appreciated that though the villains were cruel and scary and evil, their motives made sense. Additionally, the increasingly complex plans Kaldar and Audrey devise in their quest for the MacGuffin require independent action from all of the main characters. We would have missed a lot of excitement without Jack’s point of view. And, we would have missed Jack. To be honest, I like Jack and George so much that I would have read and enjoyed this book even if it were only about them.
And therein lies the difficulty. While I adored the relationship between George and Jack—the dramatic posturing of adolescents, the alternating feelings of responsibility and resentment each boy feels for his brother—Audrey and Kaldar’s romance just was not as vivid a relationship. I think part of the problem is that much of Kaldar’s character development comes in the form of other characters telling Audrey—and by extension, the reader—about Kaldar rather than Kaldar showing who he really is:
Gaston bit his lower lip. “He’s not right… He still pretends that everything is cool. You can’t tell by looking at him because he acts normal, but the rudder on his boat stuck…He wants revenge on the Hand, and he doesn’t care what happens to him or how he gets it.”
Given that Kaldar is a con man, it makes sense that he would not readily reveal his deepest secrets, and I would have thought it odd if he had. But because he spends so much of his time with Audrey trying to be the type of man she would sleep with, I don’t feel like his character ever really solidified for me, even during the endearing scenes where he realized he loved her.
The difficult thing about confidence men as heroes is that the con is often bigger than the character. I found Audrey a fascinating heroine at the start of the book, but she faded in comparison to the scams she and Kaldar ran in order to retrieve the MacGuffin. By the end, I was happy when Audrey and Kaldar got their HEA, but content to let them ride off into the sunset. I am sure they will be useful in future installments of the Edge series, but Audrey and Kaldar didn’t hook me the way William and Cerise did in Bayou Moon or, to a lesser extent, Rose and Declan did in On the Edge.
Overall, I enjoyed Fate’s Edge and would recommend it to any fan of the series. I would not recommend it to new readers for fear that the tangle of preexisting characters, plots, and histories might prove daunting rather than intriguing, and I would really hate for any reader to miss out on a series as good as this one.