Book Review: Mark Del Franco’s Face Off

Posted December 27, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mark Del Franco’s Face OffFace Off on July 27, 2010 in paperback and has 322 pages.

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Second in the Laura Blackstone urban fantasy series revolving around a druidess playing two different glamoured roles in Washington D.C.

It does play off the same culture and set of events as the Connor Grey series and Donor Elfenkonig is still alive.

My Take

This was rather disappointing. I did empathize with Laura and her self-assessment about her life. Del Franco slid this in very smoothly and very well. And there certainly was a lot of action — both political and physical — happening in the story. My problem with it is the lack of warmth. Which is weird as Del Franco is doing a lot to interject it with Laura’s escalating interest in Jono and her friendships with Saff, Cress, and Terryn. But Laura still comes off as a cold person. Maybe Del Franco is simply that great a writer that we feel the removed quality of Laura’s life. But I don’t think that’s it.

Jono’s perspective on how InterSec operates is causing Laura to take a harder look at how the agency operates and at Orrin’s actions. This could also be a reason for the coldness I feel.

If InterSec is not under Guild authority, how can Orrin force Terryn out? It’s not clear who Orrin was pointing the essence bolt at.

I really enjoyed Del Franco’s Connor Grey series and this one just isn’t up to snuff. Which is even more disappointing since the CG series has ended.

The Story

Orrin app Rhys is being a totally ungrateful jerk. After Cress saved his life and many others in Skin Deep, Rhys is working to get her thrown out simply because of what she is. Part of his actions are to paint all the Inverni as terrorists because of the actions of a few.

The secret clause in the Treaty of London is the reason behind Draigen’s visit to the U.S. and a meeting with the president. A clause that makes “the Inverni instant criminals…if they protest Maeve’s rule in any way”.

Then there are the Inverni fae who are being attacked in D.C. and the lack of interest in investigating by the Guildhouse. All part of a plan by the Danann fae and other interested parties. People and fae interested in changing the status quo.

The information Jono has dug up indicates an upcoming attack and InterSec needs a hard insertion. That’s Laura up to bat with her glamouring skills. A very chancy masquerade in the heart of the enemy’s camp. Two full-time jobs working with and against all kinds of enemies with all the questions that are rising up in Laura.

Friends are threatened and she is questioning the choices she has made in her life.

The Characters

Laura Blackstone is a druidess and the public-relations director at the Guildhouse in Washington D.C. Her ability to create intricate glamours and detect lies caused her to be recruited by InterSec. As Laura, she works for the Guildmaster Orrin app Rhys, a very duplicitous, bigoted Danann fairy; she’s very business-like and careful. Mariel Tate is her other identity, working for InterSec as a special operations agent, and she is brash, arrogant, and powerful. A completely different woman. Saffin is Laura’s persona’s assistant. A brownie, she is incredibly efficient…and incredibly observant as Laura learned to her dismay in Skin Deep.

Jono Sinclair is a half-human, half-jotunn with the ability to sense the shape of someone and he can do sendings. He’s currently undercover as Bill Burrell in the Legacy Foundation somewhat against his will. He managed to pass as human for most of his life, but his attraction to Laura/Mariel and his ability to sense essence shapes came to light, making him a threat to InterSec and Laura. He’s a cheeky boy.

Resha Dunne is a merrow and one of the Guild board directors. He represents the solitaries and does a very good job of appearing to be dumb. Ian Whiting is a druid who seems to have committed suicide. Very unlike him.

Terryn macCullen is Laura’s supervisor at InterSec. Cress is a leanansidhe and Terry’s mate. Her kind is feared by all fae as she feeds by sucking out their living essence. But, Cress is an exception, just not to Orrin app Rhys or Terryn’s family. Terryn should be the underKing of the Inverni, but he refused to accept the crown when Maeve killed his father. Instead, he appointed his sister, Draigen macCullen, as his regent. Brinen and Aran are Draigen’s brothers and the leaders of their Guardian units. Sean Carr, Uma macGrath, and Rory Dawson are Inverni working for Aran. And the Guardians are very quick on the trigger. Davvi is a very loyal brownie for the Inverni clan.

Genda is a Danann fairy who shares an office with Mariel. Her skills lie in finance and she needs her vanity stroked constantly. It’s a major surprise for Laura/Mariel when she’s appointed head of InterSec. Jenna Dahl is a newscaster with information for Laura. Allison Forth, a.k.a., Fallon Moor, is a brownie wanted for terrorist activities and is currently connected to Legacy. Adam de Winter is in charge at Legacy. He’s ex-CIA and appears to be Fallon’s lover. Perhaps. Rosa Lentner is an executive with a science research firm in the Midwest.

High Queen Maeve rules from Tara in Ireland. She signed a Treaty when Convergence happened in the early 1900s with Britain and the United States which included a secret clause committing them to supporting her in any action taken against her. Including an uprising by the Inverni Celtic fae clans.

Convergence occurred in the early part of the nineteenth century when Faerie and our world collided and parts merged. The Legacy Foundation is a political organization that is rapidly radicalizing and they seem to have a connection with Triad, the terrorist organization in Skin Deep. InterSec is a policing organization for the fey.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a collage of events with, I’m guessing, the yellows, greens, and whites representing essence shots and the well-lit Washington Monument with a blurry, lit-up skyline in the background while a very cheesy looking Laura in her black and tacky vinyl jumpsuit poses in a striding profile. She’s also wearing a very elaborate emerald necklace which is not mentioned anywhere in either story. Del Franco only ever mentions a pendant while emphasizing the need to be unobtrusive. This necklace on the cover is NOT unobtrusive.

The title has a number of possibilities with the Face Off ranging from Laura’s seeing under the surface of her two bosses, the Inverni regent’s brothers’ reveal, or Laura’s own in-depth look at herself.


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