Author: Patricia Briggs
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384 (hardcover)
Selected By: Lady Esbe
Lady Esbe’s Score:
“Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes – only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…
“Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…”
Lady Esbe’s Review
Mercedes Athena Thompson-Hauptman, but affectionately referred to as Mercy by most friends and unbelievingly by most of her foes is by far one of my favorite female urban fantasy characters. I was happy to see the new installment of the misadventures of Mercy and her newest set of challenges to be endured or survive, dependent on your perspective.
As always, Mercy finds herself in the crosshairs of a bad guy due to no fault of her own. We are officially introduced to Bonrata, Marsilia’s ex and apparently the biggest baddest vampire in all of Europe and possibly the world, who has taken Mercy captive in an attempt to gauge the Colombia Basin Pack’s, or mainly the pack Alpha, Adam Hauptman (Mercy’s husband/mate) strength and the actual solidarity of the uneasy alliance created by all supernatural folks in where they live. Thanks, to the crazy ass Wulfe, maker of Bonrata and wildcard to Marisilia’s seethe, Mercy is mortally injured before being whisked away on a European adventure. As the name implies, her bonds that allows her to communicate with Adam, the pack and even Stefan are cut by the distance and magical constraints. Now here is the rub, Mercy is not physically powerful, but her cunning, daring and general will to survive and make it back her husband and pack and last, but certainly not least, the measure of loyalty she inspires is insane.
One of the most loyal to Mercy, and next to Adam, the one who cares the most about Mercy is Stefan. I forgot Stefan was Italian until we made our way into this installment, mainly because of his fondness of Scooby Doo, I always pictured a blond gangly man. However, I have a clearer picture of him in my head this time. No matter the time period, Stefan is probably the most civilized of the vampires and the one whom Mercy is bound to. Neither are thrilled by the blood bond between them, mainly because it is not a bond of partnership but one of master and servant. Mercy, never wants to be subservient to anyone else and Stefan is not fond of the idea of having her as his “slave” so to speak. However, when all else failed, their bond allowed Mercy to at least communicate enough with those coming to her aide to let them know, there was someone still on the other end of needing that aide.
Another point regarding the bond between Mercy and Stefan is that they are both sensitive to the delicate nature of said tie. Mercy tugs at the tie to ensure that it is still there and that Bonrata has circumvented it. Stefan answers immediately, encouraging her to not tug too hard, he is there and will always be there for her. Due to Mercy and Stefan’s bond, Stefan is the only voice that can bring Adam under control when needed. As always, Stefan is the voice of reason. While ultimately, his kind is the cause of many problems, he attempts to keep the situation at the very least even-keeled with a cool calm and control the belies his true worry for Mercy. I think the campaign to reacquire Mercy would have been doomed from the start without Stefan’s involvement.
It goes without saying that Adam, is possessive in the most positive way that you can say that word over the well-being of Mercy. He’s well attune to the fact that Mercy, despite her penchant for finding trouble, or more accurately finding her, that she is strong in will and will do what she must to survive her predicament. She has done it without him in the past, but this predated their courtship and marriage. Now, as they share a mating bond and the pack bond, losing site of her sets his wolf on edge and can end things before they begin. I like that Adam puts his traveling companions under his protection despite his inherent mistrust of some of his traveling companions. Adam’s nature of protector extends to even the newest members of his rabble, two pilots who are not affiliated with him (one goblin and one submissive werewolf). For all of Adam’s strength, this situation has more than the passing ability to cause him to lose control and create a war amongst all the supernatural, which is most definitely a weakness. However, his mishmash of compatriots this time holds him together in a way when his pack could not.
The newest werewolf we are introduced to is Matt Smith, a submissive werewolf and copilot. Matt’s demeanor upon arrival in Italy is one of victim. However, there is a special magic that a submissive wolf has that help not only the members of the pack, but a pack Alpha. While Adam sees himself as the protector of Matt Smith, he finds that Matt protects him as much as Adam protects, Matt. However, at the end of the book there is a twist that I will not reveal. It’s a must-read which causes more of a need to hash out my concerns and observations with Elle Tea upon her reading of it (aside: yeah, hurry up and read it, because I have to bounce this off of you soon, girl!!). A nice role that Matt plays is that he is able to provide insight to Adam as a wolf and without fear of dominance games, because he is a submissive wolf… or is he?
We are introduced to the others who have bones to pick with someone other than Mercy, but she bears the brunt of their ire, including the head of the Prague pack or Vltava pack, Libor. Libor is strong, possibly unreasonable, but he is willing to play ball if you come to him with a semblance of honor and skill, despite grudges he may hold against your childhood foster father, Bran, the Marrok. There is bad blood and he has more than one opportunity to let Mercy fend for herself, but he keeps his oaths and still has enough honor not to discuss what exactly is the issue between he and Bran. While he reluctantly aides Mercy, he’s a good host as he could be and is a wealth of information of the life/trials and tribulations of the pack and other supernaturals in his area during World War II. While I found him a wee bit abrasive, I understand that for centuries he has held this place in check and seen wars and disease that ravage those around him, yet he survives and ha to in order to protect those under his purview.
We are also introduced to Bonrata’s minions. Guccio, is the prettiest and possibly the most ruthless of vampires next to Bonrata. He is truly Bonrata’s child and is the rival king of double dealing, and cruelty. He has his own agenda it takes a little while for his plans to reveal themselves. We are also introduced to a powerful witch who happens to be a vampire. Who’s bright idea was it to turn a batshit insane witch into a vampire? Ah, you’ll find out when you read. However, she is the Dr. Frankenstein of vampires and that is most definitely a recipe for disaster.
Again, this is not my favorite of the series, but it is a damn fine showing. As always, Adam pleases, Mercy delights, Stefan makes you want a Scooby Doo loving vampire in your corner. Looking forward to the next installment, as always.
Esbe read the Amazon Kindle version of this selection.