Although I have enjoyed the previous books in the Women of the Otherworld series, this one was definitely not my favorite. It was nice to see Elena and Clay featured again, but I felt that they spent most of the book running in circles, chasing their tails (pun intended).
For those that aren’t familiar with the series, this assuredly is not the place to start. Armstrong basically begins the book assuming the reader knows the characters and provides minimal back story to get newcomers up to speed. Elena is the only female werewolf in existence. Years ago, the love of her life, Clay, also a werewolf, bit her. It took Elena years to forgive Clay and realize that she did love him. Their story is told in the first two books of the series Bitten and Stolen. The other books in the series feature secondary characters from those books, and Elena and Clay make very brief appearances only. Without reading at least two or three of the other books, the characters and circumstances mentioned in passing will be extremely confusing.
In this installment, Elena and Clay are excited and terrified to discover that Elena is pregnant. Since none of the pack has ever dealt with a female werewolf, much less a pregnant one, they are uncertain how to proceed, and in Elena’s mind are hovering and overprotective. When a much needed distraction – in the form of a former acquaintance with a job prospect – appears, Elena jumps at the chance to convince Clay and Jeremy, the pack Alpha, that they should investigate. It seems that a mysterious “Letter from Hell” written by, yes, Jack the Ripper, has surfaced after being stolen years ago. At first, the tasks before them seem ridiculously easy. Then a situation develops where a portal between the Victorian past of Jack the Ripper and present day Toronto is ruptured.
Some very ugly people have crossed through the accidentally open portal, and cholera and murder strike Toronto as a result. The information that Clay and Elena initially receive about closing the portal is completely inaccurate and they realize they are dealing with a much more powerful sorcerer than they first believed. Some of their new allies also have ulterior motives, even if they are not directly involved with opening the portal.
For most of the story, Clay, Elena, and Jeremy spend their time running around the city chasing decomposing zombies and looking for Jack the Ripper. All this running grew extremely tedious after the first few laps. They call in the help of some old friends, and Jaime, a powerful necromancer, arrives to try and close the portal and return the Letter from Hell and the sorcerer to their own time.
In addition to the feeling that everyone was running around like chickens in a barnyard, the identity of the villain is apparent to anyone paying attention. I found it hard to believe that the werewolves missed it. Although all the books in the series deal with the paranormal and disbelief must be suspended, this particular story line seemed weak and thrown together. While I enjoyed what should have been the main story focus, Elena’s pregnancy and the various reactions from the werewolves (including her own) and concerns regarding her health, not enough time was spent on it because of all the flitting from here to there.
While I was glad to re-visit Elena and Clay, had I not been a fan of the series, I would have skipped this book all together. Even as a fan I’m disappointed. My suggestion would be to borrow it from a friend or buy it used. I hope that if Armstrong continues the series, the next book will feature a stronger plot with less running in circles. However, even though this one fell short of my expectations, I’ve enjoyed the rest in the series and will definitely read this author again.