Friday, February 19, 2010

Bound to Shadows by Keri Arthur

Riley Johnson is half vampire, half-werewolf, She lives with her brother, Rhoan, his wolf-mate Liander, and her lover, the Vampire Old One named Quinn. She and Quinn are lovers, and she prefers him, but she also has a wolf soul mate named Kye- both are perfect for each other, but while Kye wants Riley, she is less than enthralled with the man- he's an assassin who doesn't seem to care that his job is killing people, and Riley doesn't approve one bit. She may want him and need him, but she doesn't love him or want to be with him- and the bad part of it all is that she can't even kill him, because the death of one's mate invariably means the death of the wolf.

Her current job with the directorate is catching the perpetrator of a series of vampire homicides. The vamps in question have been surprised and had their heads sawed or chopped off, something that argues that the killer is a supernatural with some kind of enhanced speed, since they would need to have that to do such a crime to a vampire, who has enhanced speed itself. The latest crime has taken place outside a blood club, where vampires go to feed and their blood donors go to be fed from. It's a win-win situation for both, because the vampires don't need to attack humans to feed, and their donors get off on the sensation from the feeding.

But Riley gets a bad feeling from this particular club, and more specifically, its owner, Dante Stark, who spends far too much of his time trying to seduce her. She also gets a bad feeling from the crime, and from her boss, Cole, who she feels is keeping something from he. But when the finds her mate Kye Murphy involved in the murder up to his eyebrows, he begins blackmailing her into meeting him for lunch to share the information she needs to solve the case- and coincidentally, making the sort of intimate connections between them that feed the mating bond, tying them and their souls together.

At the same time, she is helping her friend and fellow directorate agent, the Horse-Shifter Kade, with his own case, which involves the kidnapping and near-murder of young children at carnivals. But as both cases heat up, she's called in on a number of cases where women, apparently young and healthy young women, are suddenly turning up dead in their beds at home. Can it have something to do with the Emo Vampires who feed on human emotion? Or is Dante Stark, who radiates sexiness like nothing else in this world on a daily basis somehow to blame?

But Riley has a lot to deal with- as her relationship (such as it is) with Kye heats up, she's worried that it might end her relationship with Quinn, Yet every time they meet, she keeps getting deeper and deeper into her sexual relationship with him, and less able to pull away. And the if the information he's giving her is true, the mystery surrounding the beheading deaths involves the Vampire Council- of which both Quinn and her boss Cole are members, and who are above even the head of the Directorate's chain of command.

She knows Kye is there to kill someone and make it look like an accident, but when his job conflicts with hers, can she save his target without killing him- and dooming herself to death thereby? Or will she be able to dodge the bullet and find another way out of her dilemma? And if she can, will relationship with Quinn survive?

Wow, this was an amazing book. Riley is a hot, kick-ass heroine, but sometimes her life sucks hard. She wanted to find her mate for so long, but in the meantime, she fell in love with Quinn. And then she did find her mate- and her mate turned out to be very hot, but a total bastard that she didn't feel comfortable with morally, no matter that he's perfect for her wolf and she can't deny her attraction to his hot, handsome bod.

And having found him, she can't just cut him out of her life, because he's determined to fight for what she wants to deny him- herself. And Quinn, who knows the rather strange heritage that Riley has, knows that Kye could steal her away from him- a werewolf has no choice over who his or her mate is- and once they have met, if one dies, the other does, too- and the more they have sex, the closer their lives and souls become entwined. So every time Riley slips from her intention to have nothing to do with Kye- or not to have sex with him, she may be ending her relationship with Quinn. And I'll have to say here that I never found Kye all that. I never felt she should end up with him. Yes, he has an unfair advantage- he is her mate- but I hoped they wouldn't end up together. He may be a sexy bad boy, but there is more to life than that, and should be, too.

In addition, the rest of the story was great- the mystery was intense and interesting, and the fact that guys are just aching to leap into her pants... and her life, made you truly believe in her total awesomeness- although the motives of some of the men were very suspect- Stark in particular. The answers for Riley were never easy, but she rolled with the punches and came out on top. It's her willingness to take risks and not stop at the simple answers that makes her rock, and you definitely cheer for her to win over her adversaries and enemies.

This book is the penultimate volume of the series, but I can't wait to read the final book. Her life is finally coming together to be stable and full of happiness and children, even if they are her twin, Rhoan's children rather than her own. I've enjoyed this series tremendously, and while I am sad that it will soon be gone, some of the characters will appear in the new Dark Angel series Keri Arthur is writing, and that promises to be just as good. Highly recommended.

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