This book came from NetGalley, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.
Series: The Sentinels #2
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Second in The Sentinels paranormal romance series and revolving around an outcast group of powerful people. The couple focus is on Serra and Fane.
This ARC was provided by NetGalley and Zebra in exchange for an honest review.
There is a lot I like about this story. The characters are interesting even if I find some of the parameters and restrictions spurious. The cleverness of the plot is excellent. I liked how Ivy made this enthrallment on Serra so believable. I wanted to pick nits in it but Ivy left me no holes. Very impressive. The complex, Fane’s deductive abilities, and the method of coercion are also impressive. Some of the language though seemed off for such a “superior” group of people.
I can understand the reasoning behind the Mave’s demand that high-bloods not sell their services, but everyone needs to earn a living, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t be able to earn one through their skills. Yes, there will always be some who slide to the criminal side. And they’re already doing that in spite of the law. Regulate it instead.
Then again, Mave does talk about the first Mave, the original, and her powers of persuasion. Still this Mave had those powers and those desires anyway. If a system had been in place to regulate that, maybe it wouldn’t have created such problems. Oh, boy. And then this Mave goes on to reveal the methods the original Mave used to gain acceptance by the norms of Valhalla. Brutal. Horrifying. And yet expedient.
It’s an interesting proof of the group versus the individual. As a group, norms could destroy the high-bloods simply through sheer numbers. As an individual, the high-blood can destroy a norm so easily. An example provided by Fane time after time as he and Serra continue to hunt for the little girl.
As for Bas’ belief that Serra wouldn’t have willingly helped, why were we told at the start that Serra has used her skills to find missing children? Why would Bas’ child be any different? I also found it difficult to understand Serra’s refusal to find the child. Sure, I can see her being angry with Bas, but that she would still refuse point-blank? No. And I kept expecting Serra to counter his demands. I simply could not see Serra refusing to having anything to do with finding her.
“True power comes from protecting the weak.”
I’m with Serra. I hate it when people decide what’s good for me. What about asking ME what I want? Letting me make the decision. Part of what ticks me off with this story is Fane’s lame excuse for avoiding Serra. One of those tropes that I hate: the worried little woman. I think Serra makes an excellent point when she turns the tables on him about this fear. There’s also the I-won’t-fall-in-love-I’ll-just-use-him trope. *Eye roll*.
Fane talks of how stressed Serra must feel, and it’s just talk. There’s no emotional pull here. No sense of time running short. It’s just a story that doesn’t ratchet up my heart rate.
The clichés do get a twist, but they still irritate me. Has Bas been so isolated by his power that he has forgotten normal reactions? Why would he imagine that Serra would want to work with him ever? There’s an arrogance to Bas that really pushes my buttons. I am so with Fane in wanting to strangle the bugger, even as part of me is laughing at the banter that also seems so hypocritical. Both sides trade barbs and innuendos, and both sides are irritated that the other is so flippant. Heck, Bas is downright childish. Now, the sexual banter between Fane and Serra is a lot more fun.
I did enjoy that paragraph in which Fane demonstrates the difference between nuzzling and nibbling. Actions which progress to demonstrate fondling, lol. Regrettably, it’s also where the execution of the story falls apart for me. It’s a good story, but Fane’s sudden capitulation — and, yes, it does feel sudden. Fane has been battling his attraction for years. I’d’ve expected to hear more of Fane battling the need to touch her, to hold her, to comfort her when she is so desperately in need of it. But he just plops on into it. All. The. Way. It’s later on that we get a look at his inner thoughts, but it’s too late. For me, anyway.
If Serra is so valuable to him, why does Bas send her into a dangerous situation without warning her? Why does Ivy claim the Brotherhood is so inept and yet state that it’s highly organized?
Oh, brother. We finally get to the justification for Molly’s kidnapping. Made me feel like I was in the presence of a James Bond villain.
Then that last bit in the epilogue when Bas suddenly realizes how often Molly says she has spoken to her mother. A mother who has told Molly she’s coming…now.
Yep, it’s an interesting story with an intriguing plotline that is ambushed by the contradictions.
Serra has been in love with Fane for years, and she’s finally giving up. Fane’s decision to become a trainer in a Tibetan monastery has ended all her hopes. It’s a sadness that will leave her vulnerable, making it easier for the gift to be accepted.
One that will lure Serra into her own special prison. The key of which is her aid in finding a precious treasure.
It’s the reason for the loss of that treasure that stuns Bas into a shocking realization about the philosophy that has driven most of his life’s work.
Serra Vetrov‘s beauty causes grown men to weep, to lose all track of where they are. She’s also a rare telepath able to connect with a person’s mind by handling an object of theirs as well as being a strong psychic. She has lived at Valhalla since she was five, training to use her abilities.
Fane is a shaven-headed guardian warrior with a reputation for being aloof, unreachable but with a passion for creating his art, the wooden figurines he carves as gifts. He is no longer the guardian to Callie Brown (see Born in Blood, 1, and is no longer at loose ends having reached his decision.
Wolfe, a hunter, is the current Tagos, the leader of all the Sentinels, and he’s in love with an unattainable woman. Arel is a young hunter who has dated Serra and in whom Wolfe sees much promise. Niko has returned with a wife who may be a powerful healer (see “Out of Control“, 0.5). Marco is standing by. Gideon is the third of his most trusted Sentinels.
All-powerful and a witch, the Mave, the former Lana Mayfield, knew Bas before she became their leader. She is also supposed to be fair and impartial which means no relationships.
Callie Brown O’Conner was a diviner, a necromancer, who fell in love with Sergeant Duncan O’Conner who has become her husband, protector, and a Sentinel. And she’s best friends with Serra. Inhera is the leader of the psychics.
The monastery in Oklahoma
Father Michal Valdez is the abbot and an old friend of Lana’s. Landon is the novice.
The very morally flexible Bas Cavrilo is the CEO of Cavrilo International, a born witch with a strong ability in illusion, an assassin trained by the monks, and a former Sentinel leading a group of renegade high-bloods who use their abilities to earn a living. One of his aliases is Sir John Baxter. Molly is his normal, four-year-old, kidnapped daughter. Daisy is her battered, stuffed hippo. Kaede is Bas’ administrative assistant to the public eye, in truth, he’s Bas’ enforcer, a.k.a., Bas’ Blade. Samuel is his most trusted reader. Vicky is his resident high-blood healer. Myst, a clairvoyant with minor abilities is Molly’s mother. Aldo and Damis are two of his Sentinels.
Anna is a high-blood with a rare power: the ability to interfere with electrical currents. Safe enough to isolate her when civilization and electricity are in isolated areas; she is Armageddon in our day and age. Stella is one of the witches maintaining the stasis spell.
The clients, colleagues, and companies
Madame Wagner runs a brothel, the Lewis and Clark B&B. Lily is her receptionist. Hull & Sons Insurance Company is a shell. The Century Lab is a research facility. Stephan Reyes, a Sentinel, had been Bas’ right-hand man. Russell Harvey was a healer caught experimenting on norms. Lee Sandoval, psychic and computer geek, had been Jael’s lover. Jael herself died in Thailand at the hands of the Brotherhood. The Emerald Lounge is a sex club.
Once worshipped as gods, high-bloods are powerful and some can be monsters as can be found in any group of people. One of their laws is that high-bloods not sell their services for personal or financial gain to norms, humans. Sentinels are high-bloods who can be divided into two groups: guardians and hunters. The guardians have magic and are heavily tattooed to protect themselves from magical attacks or mind control. They act as bodyguards to high-bloods. Hunter sentinels have no magic but are just as lethal and enforce the laws of Valhalla. Having no tattoos, they can easily pass for human. Valhalla, a home for many high-bloods, is in the Midwest and is but one of various high-blood compounds situated around the world including the monasteries where the Sentinels are trained.
The Brotherhood is a secret society of humans who hate “mutants” like the Sentinels. They are very organized and able to sense high-bloods. Jacques Girard leads the group and Marco finds a curious company in his search: Girard Import and Export.
The Dark Side is a fight club that changes location constantly .
The Cover and Title
The cover is not what I would expect. No offense to the model, but he’s not livin’ up to what I envisioned for an almost-mythical warrior. He does have the muscle and some interesting tats as he poses in his black leather jeans. It’s Serra standing behind him in her short black leather bustier and hiphugger pants, her long curly hair cascading down her back and over her shoulder. The background is a misty swirl of purples.
I’m guessing that the title refers to Bas, for he’s a Blood Assassin setting Serra up.