Between the land of the Broken, where technology is king and magic is a tale told to children and the Weird and where the strength of your magic determines your very existence, lies the Edge. With a terrain as tough as its people, the Edge is no place for the faint of heart. And one of the least friendly, most dangerous of its environments has just taken a turn for the worse. Too bad the Mire is the only place Cerise Mar and her family call home.
Life at the Rat Hole – the Mar family home named for the abundance of Mars, the viciousness of said inhabitants, and the near total lack of family funds – has never been easy. The swamp lands are tough to negotiate, yielding little for back-breaking labor. The neighbors are a motley crew, with the best of them screwing you over to your face and the worst the kind that stab you in the back. Still, the Mars take pride in holding their own and having the respect of those around them. Then comes the morning when the fragile truce with the Sheerile family ends. The head of the family has been nabbed and their rivals are now occupants of a family property. Cerise doesn’t want a war, but unless she can do some very quick thinking, it looks like one has landed right on her doorstep.
The life of a changeling is rarely good in the Weird. William was happy to leave it behind and live a more peaceful existence in the Edge, where he can work in the Broken and relax in a place not full of bitter memories. Then the head of the Adrianglian spy system comes to call, offering an amazing deal if William the Wolf can just defeat long time nemesis The Hand. William is on his way to do just that when his path crosses with Cerise. Their tentative alliance is an incredible stroke of luck – the only question is, will that luck wind up being good or bad?
When I first encountered William in On the Edge I wasn’t really that fond of him. I wondered how I would react to him when he was the hero of his own novel. The answer is (drum roll please): I completely loved him. William’s animal nature, his past, his hopes, and his dreams are all combined brilliantly to make up a loyal, fierce, loving, intelligent, physical hero. This man has a terrific heart and I fell in love with that very, very quickly. Really, by the first handful of pages featuring Will I was wondering if the writer could come up with a heroine worthy of him.
She did. Cerise is the perfect match for Will. She’s a skilled fighter, kind of heart, but far from a soft touch. She leads a family of ragamuffin villains in a difficult situation and earns their respect (and ours) while doing so. Like William, she is loyal to a fault. She also has that same strong moral code he does, that keeps them on the path of good even when it doesn’t keep them from bending the rules a bit. Cerise also really gets William’s wolf-like nature and reads up on changelings so she can better communicate with him. She is a smart, resourceful woman – the kind of heroine that actually is kick-ass as opposed to a poser.
I found the romance portion of the book to be really well done. Both characters were cautious in their relationships, but they came with a lot of baggage and their caution was from need rather than stubbornness or stupidity. The relationship is built slowly, accommodating both their need for caution and the circumstances under which they meet. I loved the way Cerise teased the serious William by calling him “Lord Bill” and the way William made her feel so very, very special by letting her see just how badly he wanted her.
And I can’t leave out the other wonderful characters in this novel. I grew to really love the Mars family of misfits as much as Cerise did. The author does a good job of making them real without having them steal the limelight from our primary couple.
As far as action goes, this tale comes with plenty. The feud between the Sherilee clan and the Mars is merely a shadow of what is a much, much bigger picture. And there is a touch of Romeo and Juliet between Cerise and Lagar, the eldest Sherilee, who shared a dance with Cerise once and mourned what could never be. To paraphrase Cerise, they hated each other’s families more than they could ever love each other. It provided some humanity to a group that could have just been stick figures of evil. And it added a touch more romance to a tale that at times is pretty grim. I should add that it’s also violent and yes, at times even a tad disgusting. The Hand is a creature with a dark heart and it takes a lot of force to make any impact on him and his agents.
What kept the book from earning an A was the mess at the end. The object that everyone has been hunting for turns out to be quite mysterious, powerful – and unneeded. In fact, the resolution regarding this issue brought out more questions than answers, big enough ones that they disrupted my enjoyment of the tale.
But this was a minor quibble compared to the overall greatness of the book. I recommend it to any fan of paranormal romance.