Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega, #4)

Dead HeatDead Heat
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 0425256758
Series: Alpha and Omega #4
Publication Date: September 27, 2020
Pages: 304
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

I was late to the party for both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series; the upside of this being I got to binge read all of them to get caught up.  At the end of it, I was a fan of both series, but the Alpha and Omega series squeaked past Mercy by a hair.  Less pack dynamics/politics in the A&O series.

What I loved about both was the strong ties to Native American cultures their respective MC’s have but was frustrated about how little the Native American cultures actually played a part until River Marked gave us more about Mercy’s heritage.  Now we’re starting to get a bit more about Charles’ in Dead Heat.

Like others, I enjoyed Fair Game less than the first two books in the A&O series so I was a little hesitant about cracking this one open, worried it might have that same dark tone overlaid with heavy tension between the two MC’s.  But we’re back to a great plot and MC’s that work together.  Once that was clear, I didn’t want to put the book down; after the scene in the classroom with Amethyst, I was riveted.

I knocked off half a star because I knew who Anna and Charles were looking for from the first scene they had together, but truly, it did not matter one whit to my enjoyment of the story overall.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading it again almost as much as I am looking forward to reading the next one.

 

The scene when Anna and Charles met Ms. Edison was very well written, but Ms. Briggs used that moment to explain in detail why Opium, more than most other perfumes, masked scents so well that Charles couldn’t smell anything else.  The only reason for that detail to be explained was that it was going to have significant repercussions later on.  (Ms. Edison is wearing Opium / Opium masks scents.  Ergo, Ms. Edison has something to hide.)

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to reading it again almost as much as I am looking forward to reading the next one.

River Marked (Mercy Thompson, Book 6)

Great read. As usual, the humour and wit shown in these books offsets the sometimes dark themes the plot lines incorporate. I loved the American Native Indian focus to this story; learning about Mercy’s heritage, and the introduction of Coyote. I hope he’ll be a recurring character in the remaining books. The River Devil was over the top towards the end, but the whole story was enjoyable, nevertheless.

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5)

This was my favorite book of the series until the last fifth or so the time spent in Elphame and that only because fae is my least favorite of the supernatural, I think. Still, this was an excellent read and I loved it. I really enjoyed the time spent on developing Mercy and Adam’s relationship, the pack, and definitely on Samuel. This book felt a lot less high-intensity than the ones before it in many ways, and I appreciated the break.

 

I can’t say a whole lot about the plot beyond what’s written on the back cover without going spoilerish. As I mentioned above, not a fan of the typical fae mythology – although I really like Zee and the way the author weaves the truth behind the fairy tales into this series. I just prefer them more when they aren’t taking center stage and this book – at least the last half, they are definitely center stage.

 

I have the next one on it’s way to me now and I can’t wait to read it.

Biting Bad: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel #8

My favorite of the UF/PF series I read, and Biting Bad was excellent. It felt a bit like Christmas, having everyone together and getting along; no dramas between Merit and Ethan, Mallory back to being a main character, Catcher back – the gangs all here!

 

I’m certain I’ve said this in every review for every book in this series, but the character writing is just excellent. Dry wit, sarcasm, excellent timing, all make the dialogue just flow beautifully, and reading about the Chicagoland vampires is like being there with them. I have such a detailed image of Cadogan House, Grey House, Little Red – even Merit’s parents house (well, until her mom redecorated).

 

A lot was happening in the plotlines of this book: riots, political strife, family interference, McKetrick. But I never had any trouble following anything that was going on; the story flowed smoothly and once I picked it up, I didn’t put it down again until I was finished (Thank goodness it was a Saturday!). As one thread of the overall story arc is resolved, another one starts to unravel, taking us into the next book. I cannot wait.

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson Series #4)

I was prepared to dislike this book, as the synopsis didn’t sound all that interesting to me, but the author did an excellent job defying my expectations.  I was dreading the whole aftermath of the last book, but found myself admiring the way she handled Mercy’s recovery. I also dreaded the whole vampire-revenge storyline, but the plot-twist was excellent! I genuinely enjoyed the first 80% of the book. The part I liked the least was the end, which, I suppose, wasn’t written to be liked. Ms. Briggs does evil well. However, she gets points for not dragging the ending out so very long and I liked the way everything wrapped up quickly and satisfyingly. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.

Iron Kissed (Mercy Thompson, Book 3)

I was dreading this book because I knew what was waiting for me in it, but I had just finished a Janet Evanovich, and if that isn’t inoculation enough against a dark, intense read, I don’t know what is, so I picked Iron Kissed up off Mt. TBR and started reading.

 

There’s no doubt that this is a great series with excellent characters. I enjoyed the slightly stronger focus on Samuel vs. Adam and I’m happy that this triangle isn’t going to drag on indefinitely. I also really enjoyed finding out a bit more about Zee and some of the fae folklore, although the fae as a group don’t hold a lot of fascination for me.

 

Iron Kissed is closer to a traditional murder mystery than the first two, and I have to admit I had the evil pegged from it’s first scene, but there’s so much going on in this book that it didn’t at all matter – I’m not even sure the author’s first goal here is to keep us from knowing who the evil is.

 

Finally the scene I dreaded the most: I was relieved to find the author didn’t feel the need to be disgustingly graphic about the physical brutality, but she does manage to convey the horror and creepiness of the scene vividly by exploiting the mental angle. I think of all the disturbing scenes of the overall horror, the one in the car ride over to the garage was the most disturbing for me. In just two (maybe 3?) short sentences, I’m completely creeped out, and horrified by the lack of free will Mercy suffers. The garage scene felt a bit jagged – like a film clip that was missing frames – but I was completely ok with that. I was happy to have details filled in when needed after everything was over and the body parts swept up.

 

This isn’t a series where I’ll be reading the books back-to-back until I catch up, but I’ll definitely keep on reading.

A Cursed Embrace: A Weird Girls Novel #2

3 stars only because I’m not in any way a fan of demons in my stories. They’re just too one-dimensional/single-minded for me to find them interesting, but they make good adversaries, I guess.

 

This book is quite a bit darker (see demons, above) than the first book, but it kept me riveted because of the characters. The sisters are that perfect dynamic – each with their own very unique personality and gift and their wolves, the same (I think Koda is my favorite). I can’t say I really much cared for the ending although, way to stop my heart re; Shayna!!! VERY well done!  Although I knew a conflict was coming, the author has set it up in a way that if feels like a happy ending of some kind is inevitable, and that’s what will keep me reading. In the meantime, I’m loving Misha – his name, his looks, his attitude – and I’m looking forward to seeing how the dynamic between Celia and Misha plays out.

 

Thankfully, the next book will be out in just 7 months or so, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Blood Bound (Mercy Thompson, Book 2)

A tad darker than the books I usually enjoy, Blood Bound sort of rides that edge of what I enjoy reading and what I’d rather put down and move on from. Though as I start to read more and more books similar to Mercy Thompson, it’s not easy to keep saying that.  But, I really enjoyed it, in spite of it’s slightly darker intensity. Most of that can be contributed to my ‘bonding’ with the characters in the first book, so I found myself really wanting to know what was going to happen to all of them this time around.

 

I’m one who thinks you can never have too much humor, and there was enough throughout the dialog to keep things from becoming positively moribund.

 

The plot line is definitely dark stuff and the author gets big kudo’s from me for giving Mercy faith and using it as a strength, without becoming evangelical about it. She strikes a nice balance – Mercy is never, ever, preachy or superior, but she doesn’t hesitate to use that faith as a tool in her arsenal. Well done.

 

The climax was intense but I didn’t find it overly done and it didn’t drag out either. Following the sometimes labyrinthine vampire politics took some concentration, which at times I didn’t always have (especially when I’m picking the book up after a long day at work), but it added a level of intrigue that kept the plot from being too obvious.

 

I had my doubts about a were-based series – they aren’t my favorite paranormal species, but I’m really liking Adam and Warren and Bran. I’m looking forward to picking up the third book.

Spell Bound (A Hex Hall Novel #3)

Loved this trilogy. The characters were fabulous – witty, interesting and likeable. The dialoge in this book and the others reminded me lot of the first few seasons of Buffy. Great snark. Even the ‘nemesis’ Edodie is a character you like and cheer on.

 

The over arcing plot of the trilogy was interesting, the ultimate villains not being the obvious foes. I won’t say the story arc was obvious – it wasn’t – but it wasn’t shocking to me either. But then, I’m a generation removed from the demographic for these books.

 

I genuinely enjoyed reading these books – I didn’t want to put them down until I was finished and the climax of this one left me feeling a bit misty eyed. I’ll definitely be checking out some of Ms. Hawkins’ other work.

Demonglass (A Hex Hall Novel #2)

A great read. I’ve found that just about every trilogy has a bit of a sophomore slump in the second book, but I enjoyed this one a lot. Fast paced, lots of action and such great characters! And such wonderful snark! Witty dialog can redeem a so-so book, but when you have a great story and witty dialog, it’s a joy to read and I didn’t want to put it down.

 

Luckily, my impulse book buying habits had me buying both this book and the third one at the same time. It’s not a major cliffhanger, but it’s not a small one, and I was thrilled that I could close this book and immediately pick up the third and keep on reading.