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REVIEW:  Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

REVIEW: Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Dear Ms. Briggs:

I am constantly amazed at how consistently good these books are.  I don’t mind waiting a year between books if it means that each story is as good as the last one.  “Frost Burned” is the seventh book in the Mercedes Thompson series.  Mercedes is an auto repair mechanic and coyote, a shapeshifter whose only real power is her immunity to magic. She has recently married the alpha of the Tri Cities pack, Adam Hauptman. Their world is changing because the alpha of North America has brought the werewolves out of the supernatural closet. The fae, due to circumstances revealed in Fair Game, have retreated behind a magically protected curtain of sorts.

Frost Burned by Patricia BriggsThe story is set just after Thanksgiving.  The whole pack had gathered for the holiday meal.  Mercedes and Jesse, her stepdaughter, have taken off to do some Black Friday shopping to buy a popular video game.  Their post holiday gaming plans are interrupted when the entire pack appears to have been kidnapped by some fake federal agents leaving Mercy with Ben.

The kidnappers try to use the pack to force Adam to conduct a public assassination of  U.S. Senator Campbell, a fierce anti-fae, anti werewolf voice.  Adam’s actions would turn the tide against the newly come out werewolves, particularly on the heels of particularly gruesome vigilante justice carried out by the fae recently (see “Fair Game”). Adam is likely specifically targeted because he has become somewhat of a public figurehead for the werewolves. He had served honorably in the military and offered his services as a consultant. Attractive, charismatic, and capable, Adam has served to lessen fears and pave the way for acceptance.

If the anti werewolf contingent can get Adam to be seen as a dangerous animal, the transition of private to public for the werewolves would be much less likely to happen. Instead, they would be hunted, collared, and made outcasts. However, Adam’s first allegiance is to his pack and not the entire body of werewolves. If killing a US Senator frees his pack, Adam will do it even if he doesn’t want to.

Mercy must try to save the pack and Adam and all the werewolves as well as fight a serious battle of power with an ancient power.  If this sounds like a redux of previous Mercy books, it is but it isn’t.  The ancient power is a new evil and one that threatens both pack and vampires.  Through the battle, Mercy learns more about her walker heritage and we learn more about the pack connections.

While Mercy’s bonds with Adam are tighter and more emotionally powerful than ever, Mercy is always her own person and, more importantly, neither is diminished by their marriage or connection. Further, even though they are physically separated for much of the book, their mate and pack bonds means that they are never truly apart. We even get a few scenes from Adam’s point of view. The time spent with Adam actually focuses on his love for Mercy and his fear for her.

Part of this book carries over the theme from Fair Game in that danger to loved ones can create havoc for a stronger entity. Adam fears for Mercy’s fragility as much as he respects her canniness and her willingness to protect their pack. Mercy fears for the humans such as Gabriel, the young man who works with her at the Garage and who is in love with Jesse, and Gabriel’s family.

The pace of the book is fairly robust. Mercy is constantly moving, often hauling endangered and wounded individuals in her wake. I particularly liked the number of dangerous creatures in this book. It fits with my worldview of old, powerful beings. They either crave more power or are insane or both. Sometimes you end up cheering on the least evil person in the melee. I can’t wait for the next installment.

For long time readers, there are rewards in this book for continuing the series. For first time readers, however, I think that there story is unique enough that it can stand alone. The romance between Adam and Mercy was just enough to satisfying this die hard romance lover. Can’t wait for the next book. B

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Knight Awakened by Coreene Callahan

REVIEW: Knight Awakened by Coreene Callahan

Dear Ms. Callahan:

I was excited when I received the pitch for this book because I hadn’t read a medieval in quite a long time. The added element of mysticism intrigued me. The setting is supposed to be outside the Carpathian Mountains near Transylvania but while that is where the book is situated, the language of the characters seemed from all over. There were “ayes” and “lasses” and “politesse” and “Sweet Jesu” (the hero’s favorite exclamation). I couldn’t figure out if I was in Normandy or Romania.

Knight Awakened Coreene CallahanI deliberately tried to ignore this and delve into the story. It’s a mystical, paranormal, I tell myself, stop trying to ground it in reality. Taking my own advice, I move forward, only to be brought up abruptly by the insta lust connection the couple has. Afina Lazar is sought by Vladimir Barbu who must mate with her to seize control of Transylvania. He sends out Xavian Ramir, an assassin trained by Halal and the Order of the Al Pacii. Xavian finds her and kidnaps her. Instead of taking her to Vladimir, he decides to take Afina to his keep where he can install her as a healer.

The initial conflict is that Xavian demands truth from her in all things and is terribly upset when she lies to him. But she’s your captive, I yell at the fictional Xavian, what do you expect? And Afina, why are you so taken with this barbarian who has kidnapped you and your child, I say, shaking her a little to jostle some sense into her.

My admonitions must work on Xavian because he forgets his pursuit of truth and just starts wanting Afina at every inopportune moment possible.  His trewes are in constant need of adjusting even during moments such as when two are standing on a literal precipice trying to out-run those who seek to kill them.

Afina’s assumption of power is brought about by the taking of her virginity. It’s power she does not gain and cannot control without her male soul mate.  And Xavian glories that Afina is dependent upon him, like she is a trophy.  Wouldn’t it have been lovely had she owned power of her own, independent of a man?

The mysticism doesn’t really kick in until about 50% of the book and at first I am intrigued and then disappointed because I’ve read previous Callahan books and it’s kind of a redux.  There are some glimpses of interesting ideas such as the Al Pacii, the cradle of blood from which these assassins turned…warrior knights are birthed. But too little time is devoted to creating a complex political subplot which seems to be promised but is never delivered.

We also get emotional canon shots – intense passion, near death, deep vows, but none of the build up so it seems like we are missing important parts of the story. I get the message and intent, but I also want to travel the journey with the characters.  I read one of the early reviews suggested you put your brain in neutral and I guess that’s pretty good advice here.  C-

Best regards,

Jane

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