Let me start this review by saying I enjoy most of Ann Aguirre’s work, as herself and under a couple of pseudonyms. I volunteered to review Agave Kiss, as I have been saving this series as a gift for myself. Hoping to be current before reviewing this last book, I sat down with book one and prepared for a delicious marathon of urban fantasy goodness. Was I ever disappointed! Book one was sheer torture, the series never got better, and Agave Kiss, though stronger than the earlier books, was nowhere near good enough to make up for the pain.
First, some hopefully non-spoilerish backstory. Corinne Solomon started the series with one talent, psychometry. Her sometimes boyfriend, Chance, has his own talent – good luck magic. But since being around Chance means any bad luck bounces off of him and on to Corinne, their relationship is rocky at best. Through several adventures, Corinne gained major magical powers and made some good friends and powerful enemies. In the last installment, Corinne visited the demon realm, Sheol, and her escape from there has landed her in an alley in London with no passport or resources, thus no means to return home.
Corinne’s accidental arrival in London appears to be fate in action, because her friend Ian Booke needs help and just happens to live relatively near. When Corinne, Shan (Corinne’s best friend and former ward of sorts), and Corinne’s eerily intelligent dog, Butch, arrive by taxi at the address given, they find a tumbledown cottage rumored to be haunted. All is not as it seems, however, and a major surprise waits inside the cottage. Corinne, along with Booke (whom we’ve been waiting to meet in person for four books) embark on another adventure to regain something precious Corinne has lost.
It is utterly impossible to say more without spoiling either the previous books in the series or this one in a big way. The story by this point is extremely convoluted and various friends, frenemies, loved ones and almost-boyfriends from earlier books all play a part. I can say that this book ends the series nicely, tying up all the loose ends and providing a sweet HEA.
The unfortunate thing about this series is that I REALLY disliked Corinne. When the series began I found her immature and needlessly cruel. While that behavior was not present in this book, my opinion was still colored by her earlier actions, especially in regard to Chance. Also unfortunate is the fact that, although there is nothing wrong with the writing technically, Agave Kiss completely failed to engage my interest or earn any affection.
This is not a standalone book by any means. The series must be read in order from book one or confusion is certain.
The quandary is how to fairly grade this book. Even though turning the last page felt like being released from prison, the contempt that would garner a D or F grade wasn’t there.