Writing teams have always fascinated me – how do they get their work to be so seamless? Shouldn’t I be able to tell who wrote what? Is one the idea person and the other the actual writer or do they combine the jobs? However they work it, I’ve been a fan of the husband and wife writing team Ilona Andrews who do an excellent job of combining romance and fantasy, as evidenced by this newest in their Edge series.
Audrey Callahan grew up in a family of grifters. Her talent for unlocking anything in seconds was put to ruthless use by her unscrupulous parents. She left them behind and began a life on the right side of the law in the Broken, the world where people shop at discount stores and think magic is make believe. Then her father comes around, looking for her to pull one last score to help out the family. Audrey reluctantly agrees on the grounds they never, ever come back around her again. But just what has she gotten herself into?
Kaldar Mar has perhaps the coolest magic ever seen in the Edge. What he gambles on, he wins. His current job for the Mirror – tracking a nasty little thief through the Broken – looks like it just might require all the luck he can get. Audrey never fails to surprise him; she’s an equal to his skills in every way. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s just about the loveliest thing he has ever seen – and he’s seen a lot. But when Audrey learns the ramifications of the heist she pulled for dear old dad she quits the fight and decides to join up with Kaldar’s renegade band of agents. But will adding even her formidable skills to the batch be enough to win this battle? For what was stolen is very, very dangerous indeed and it has absolutely fallen into the wrong hands.
For those familiar with the series you will be happy to see some returning characters in play. Jack is, as usual, finding it difficult to fit into life and it looks like his brother may be his only friend in this latest battle. Thinking to avoid the mess at home till they can gather more allies, they stow away aboard Kaldar’s wyvren. It is loads of fun to watch the interaction between them (I found one particular fist fight especially funny) and their interaction with Kaldar. George especially gets to reveal to us a glimpse of the bright, talented young man he is becoming and it is a pleasure to watch the part he plays in the operation.
For those not familiar with the series I would recommend starting at the beginning. You don’t have to to follow the romance between Audrey and Kaldar, but it helps in regards to the secondary characters. And Kaldar’s back story appears in more detail in Bayou Moon.
What would a novel about Mirror agents be without including an equal number of Hand agents? Here we meet a new villain and see some returning baddies as well. Readers of the previous novels will know these guys don’t play around, so expect a bit of gore and violence.
Speaking of baddies, Audrey is absolutely amazing considering her background. Kaldar often compares her to sunshine and he is right – she is light and laughter that came from a world of pain, darkness, and sorrow. As we learn her family’s history we get to see how utterly astonishing it is that something good could come out of so much evil. The advantage to that upbringing though is that Audrey has a skill set to match Kaldar’s. She knows how to be an agent of the Mirror without any training simply because she grew up playing the same sort of cons spies do. Yes in her case it was for evil gain, and a spy does it for the good of their country. But still, she has the skills. I really enjoyed that she was strong and resourceful and yet had a pure heart and nurturing spirit. She really did make an excellent match for her hero.
Kaldar is a returning character and it was an absolute pleasure to spend more time with him. Kaldar embodies the best meanings of the word rogue – talented, seductive, dangerous. Yummy. And yet he has a deep sense of responsibility – both for those he works with and for his family. I love this kind of hero – a touch dark with a heart of gold. And he is not an alpha but more a gamma. He is in charge because the Mirror entrusted him with the work, but he is flexible and trusts his team. Always nice to meet a man who doesn’t have to boss everyone around just to prove he’s top dog.
What kept the book from being a straight A read for me was the fact that Kaldar and Audrey fit almost too perfectly together. There was no real doubt they wouldn’t work things out because it was so obvious they were meant for each other. No one else would ever have more in common with them in background, desires for their future, and ability to fulfill the deep needs of their souls. Audrey both balanced Kaldar’s wild, gambling nature and was completely able to keep up with it when needed. Kaldar was both the bad boy she deeply needed and the loyal family man she longed for. It was a tad too seamless to give us real relationship building.
This is a rollicking adventure story, told as our heroes go on the road to chase down bad guys, bring home the treasure, and save their country. The tone here is at times intense (battle sequences, encounters with the villains), fun (the endless Jack and George fights) and sweet (the romance). If you don’t like your love stories with lots of action you may not love this one. But I recommend this to fans of the authors, fans of the series, and anyone who enjoys a tale of derring do and passion.