What happened last time...
Paenther and Foxx are out following yet another lead on Vhper's whereabouts. Their search leads them to a small market at the edge of the mountains. Paenther isn't easily tempted by women, until his eyes land on a small beauty in the shop. His reaction to her stuns him, but he forces himself to walk away. Too bad he can't get her out of his mind. He returns later, and she's there again. There's a passionate encounter which is timely interrupted by Foxx. The next and last time he sees her, the passion consumes them both. In that single vulnerable moment when his mind is open, she enthralls him. That's the second time the mighty warrior has fallen for a Mage. Dun-dun-dun...
Paenther regains consciousness only to find himself chained to a bed in a strange enclave. He realizes that for the second time in his life, he's been captured by a Mage, his mortal enemy. The beauty known as Skye, has him trapped in her dwelling, however she's not acting like a vile witch.
Skye is a Mage enchantress with a special connection to animals. Her gentle and fragile nature doesn't jive with what Paenther knows of Mages, so he's confused as hell. He still wants her with the same ferocity as he did before he knew what she was. When he realizes that they're both being used by Birik, he tells her that she has to make a choice – either help to free him and put a stop to the evil, or turn a blind eye and continue to be used and abused by her own people. She frees him, but at the last second, he kidnaps her to be interrogated by the other warriors.
This was the most complex weaving of the story yet. Paenther is still suffering from the memories of the torture at the hands of the vicious Mage, Ancreta. Pretending to be a woman in distress, she has captured his attention and then enthralled him. Her sadistic rituals were designed to separate him from his animal spirit. Like with a lot of other situations in this series, sex is involved because the mind is completely open and vulnerable during orgasm. So obviously his abuse was sexual. Thinking of that powerful warrior being taken against his will was heartbreaking, considering he's the type of man for whom honor runs deep. He never got over the anger ever since then.
Skye was a fantastic character. She was made the scapegoat for a good portion of the story, and every time she was met with resentment and hatred from the other warriors, it made me cry. She was incredibly brave, but then again I suppose it's easy to show some bravery when you have nothing else to lose. The budding relationship between Paenther and Skye was well paced, and I expected a lot of the obstacles that did appear in their way. They had the passion down pat, but the trust on his side didn't come easily.
When Jag and Foxx are captured, Skye and Paenther risk everything to help them and try to save Vhyper in the process. Those were the most anxiety filled moments that brought some disturbing news to light, and set some interesting events into motion for the future stories.
I'm going address something I've seen a few reviewers mention since book one - the sex in front of others
(in front of the other Warriors during certain rituals) – I am putting that into the "it's the Feral way" category. It doesn't bare the same type of carnality or voyeuristic overtones that one might assume. First of all, the others don't "watch" to be perverts. Power is heightened by blood and sometimes when sex is included. However when it can be afforded, the other do try to grant any privacy possible. So really, it's nothing to be put off by, especially not if you've read certain BDSM novels where some acts are really out there on display. I don't see this as being a big issue, because some vampire stories mix blood and sex. Big deal, not.
My favorite book of the series so far. Solid 5 stars.