The last thing patrol cop Kate Prospero expected to find on her nightly rounds was a werewolf covered in the blood of his latest victim. But then, she also didn’t expect that shooting him would land her in the crosshairs of a Magic Enforcement Agency task force, who wants to know why she killed their lead snitch.
The more Prospero learns about the dangerous new potion the MEA is investigating, the more she’s convinced that earning a spot on their task force is the career break she’s been wanting. But getting the assignment proves much easier than solving the case. Especially once the investigation reveals their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier—on the same day she swore she’d never use dirty magic again.
Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should be never say never.
This is going to be a difficult review to write. The pages of this were filled with things that intrigued, and things that irritated. This is the first book by Jaye Wells that I’ve read, though I’ve had the Sabina Kane series on my shelf for years. My friends have been overwhelmingly positive in their reviews of this book (and the Sabina Kane series, truth be told), so, even though I ended up liking it, I’m feeling a bit of the lone-dissenter here because it just didn’t work as well for me.
I think the majority of my issues I can put down to first-book-syndrome. Series that take place in complex worlds I tend to give a slight pass for a lot of little things because there’s definitely some finesse required to set up the world, develop characters, and carry a convincing storyline. And though there are definitely authors out there that do it very, very well….there are a lot more that don’t. And sometimes those that don’t hit that sweet spot for me in the first book manage to really ramp it up as they settle into the world. So I tend to not discount a series based on the first book.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t notice all the problems that I had. And I nit-picked a lot in this story.
The biggest problem I had was that it took until nearly a 1/3 into the story for the plot to actually get moving. Up until that point I was picking apart everything that happened, and all character actions/thoughts/conversations because I was bored.
A lot of my friends have said that they really enjoyed the complexity of the characters in this book, but I just didn’t feel that. I’m in the very small minority here, though, so take it for what it’s worth. I felt like all the characters, except for Kate maybe, were stereotypical. Morales (whom I do not love) was the basic alpha-hole with his cockiness, condescension, and his questionable attitude towards women. It’s like he couldn’t be a MAN without “reading the articles” in a nude magazine, or oogling some woman, or demeaning our main character by calling her “Cupcake” (which I hate).
Let me get off on a slight tangent. I’m not against pet-names in general. I think they’re commonly used in real life, and it’s normal. What I am against are pet names that demean a person. He called her Cupcake the first time specifically to demean her, to remind her that he thought he was better than her, more capable than her, smarter than her in their field of work. To continue to call her that, even if his opinion has changed (which, whatever), just brings that initial caveman attitude back to me every time. And I hate it. This, honestly, is probably why I never warmed up to Morales, despite him becoming more reasonable as the story progressed. But women shouldn’t have to go through a gauntlet and prove themselves just because they’re women. They shouldn’t be given basic, courteous respect only after they’ve passed some unknown bar by an asshole of a man. So yeah, I don’t like Morales.
Volos was interesting, but I’m again in the minority here. Most people hate him with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns. To me, he’s more of an enigma than most of the other characters in the story. And maybe he’s an asshole, too (which evidence points to), but at least he’s an interesting one. Right now, he’s the kind of asshole that I love.
Kate…what can I say about Kate? She suffered, quite a lot, early while I was reading this book because I (unintentionally) was comparing her to Kate Daniels. I almost always consciously make the effort to forget Kate Daniels exists when I’m reading Urban Fantasy. She’s the epitome of everything I love and adore, so everyone will suffer when held up to her standard. I failed a bit here, and my initial feelings towards Kate (though they did improve) still (slightly) color my opinion of her now. I love that she’s so conflicted, and has an interesting history to both learn from, grow, and overcome. But I kind of hate that she’s so damn sanctimonious, cautious, and stubborn. She’s almost obstinate – and this kind of unyielding refusal to even consider other possibilities irritated me, especially when there were so many people having real discussions with her about these things. HOWEVER, I do have to admit to an almost grudging respect for her. She sticks to her ground, and when she does decide to bend, she does it with thought and not automatically. I like her, but I worry about her obstinacy becoming a problem for her (and me).
The world is interesting as hell. It’s our world, but we’ve (finally) discovered that magic is really just science with a little something extra. And it’s started to be used – for good (clean magic) and ill (dirty magic). I’m not sure I entirely understand all the aspects of how magic works – though that may be appropriate – or exactly why some magic is “dirty” and other magic is “clean,” but again: first-book-syndrome. I really liked that it seems like the ambiguity between clean and dirty magic is going to be explored in this series, because I’m really into looking into the grey areas of life. I’m a little less enamored of the police-procedural aspects of the book, and there were some minor irritations where I was didn’t completely buy the way things were going down, like a city mayor and police captain having any sort of control of a federal investigation, but it was just a few eye-roll moments for me that didn’t end up really detracting from my interest. I’m really looking forward to learning more about this world and seeing it more fully fleshed out.
There’s definitely a lot of good here, and I’m excited to start the next book in the series to see it become even more.