I have finally found an author in this genre whom I absolutely love. This is no small feat, because – it being a cross-breed between fantasy/paranormal/horror and romance – you can imagine there’s lots of cheese out there. This series has everything I could want: fantasy, romance, action, adventure and humour. It’s also one of the more original set-ups I’ve come across so far, and it’s surprisingly low on cheese (there’s a very good reason why Romance and it’s sub-genres get sneered at for being low-quality: the books often are. After all, they get churned out pretty quick :).
Bowen MacRieve, a Lykae, lost his mate 180 years ago. His clan has always been surprised he didn’t find death as well; instead, he’s been looking for any possible way of getting her back. When he finds out that he will have his mate if he joins the Hie – the treasure-hunt game that featured prominently in the previous book, No Rest for the Wicked (which you definitely need to read before this one) – the prize being a key that can take you back in time, twice, Bowen becomes a formidable adversary in the game. At one of the first challenges, he traps a witch, Mariketa the Awaited, inside a Mayan prison with five other Hie contenders and some seriously maddened Incubi. But not before she curses him: he will not regenerate (we saw what happened there in the previous book, and it wasn’t pretty).
Mariketa the Awaited doesn’t have much control over her powers, so when Bowen seals them inside the tomb she isn’t able to escape, as he believes. When Bowen is eventually free of the Hie and the fire cave where he was left stranded, he goes back to free her so she can remove the Hex, and finally sees her without her Glamour. And recognises her as his mate.
But a Lykae only gets one mate in their long, immortal life – and Bowen hates witches. So did she put an enchantment on him? Is she Mariah, reincarnated? They’re stuck in the jungle while a war is going on around them, and have to get to the coast so that Mariketa can put through a call to her coven and so avert a war amongst creatures of the Lore.
I just love these books. I think I said that before. I can easily, happily say it again! No, seriously. They’re very well written, tightly plotted and richly layered, the books are supurbly inter-woven, and the characters are great. There’s nothing annoying or timid or stubborn about Mariketa, and Bowen is nicely balanced, different from Lachlan in A Hunger Like No Other, suitably torn between his loyalty to dead Mariah and his strong yearning for Mariketa. I love the dialogue, and the plot, and the myriad different creatures of the Lore, and the resolution too.
I think the only thing I could say against this particular book is the title: most of the book takes place in either a cavern of lava, a tropical jungle, a beach resort, or New Orleans. Not very wintery. But it fits in with the other books in the series, which are, in order:
1. The Warlord Wants Forever (the third story in the anthology Playing Easy to Get – also available as a free e-book from the author’s website)
2. A Hunger Like No Other
3. No Rest for the Wicked
4. Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night
5. Dark Needs at Night’s Edge
6. Dark Desires After Dusk
7. Kiss of a Demon King