Those who have read the previous books are, by now, familiar with our hero, Catullus Graves. He's a snappy dressy, a highly intelligent man, has a quick mind, and invents all manners of useful devices to be used in the Blades' quest to thwart the evil Heirs of Albion. This book, his romance, picks up immediately after Rebel, as he, Astrid and Nathan are making their way back to England. It's on board the ship that they realize determined American reporter, Gemma Murphy is following them. Her eavesdropping skills picked up just enough information back in the Canadian wilderness to realize that these three people were the key to one massive story. And Gemma, bless her heart, can't say no to a big story.
Naturally, what follows, is Gemma joining forces with the Blades, working directly with Catullus. Our evil-doers, the Heirs, still have control of the magical Primal Source, and this is the book where that small matter has to be dealt with. So we, once again, have quite a bit of derring-do, battles of good vs. evil, plus some settling of old scores.
From various chatter I've seen online, I know several readers were half in love with Catullus before this book even hit the shelves. Me? Yeah, not so much. Not that I didn't think he was a likable fellow, but he didn't make my fangirl heart go squee right out of the gate. I was more interested in him as his own character, than in any potential romance he was going to have. He's quite unique among romance hero types. He knows how to dress and he's intelligent. Ok, nothing unique there. But he's also the sort of fellow who easily gets distracted by his work. He's logical. He's determined. And on top of all this? He can fight. He's brave. He knows how to throw a punch. Oh, and he's a hottie. He's actually the embodiment of every "good" quality you could possibly ever want in a hero. Tall, dark and handsome is always nice, and Catullus is that, but also more.
Gemma is the kind of heroine I tend to like, despite the fact that she's a reporter. I know I'm not the only one who cringed a bit when that tidbit came out, am I right? Why? Because reporter heroines are a minefield in Romance Novel Land. It's so easy for them to slip into Too Stupid To Live territory. Blessedly, that's not Gemma. As intelligent as Catullus is? So is she. She's just as logical. She's just as capable of thinking things through. And bless her heart, she's a straight shooter.
"What is it with you Heirs? Seems any woman who has a mind of her own suddenly becomes a slut?"All this being said, the romance does take a long while to start cooking. The first half of this novel has our romantic couple traveling with others, namely Astrid and Nathan. Then they're thrust into confrontations with the Heirs. This book clocks in at almost 500 pages, which are needed to wrap up all the series goo-ga, but it does mean the reader has to wait around for the "relationship stuff." It should also be of note that while you probably could get away with reading this book out of order - I wouldn't recommend it. The author does do a good job of bringing the reader up to speed, but this book literally opens up where Rebel ended. They are very much tied together, especially during the first half.
So where does this leave me at the end of the day, and 2010? I think the author has done a very nice job wrapping up, what I consider, a high-concept series. All my questions were answered. The ending was just right, and nicely believable. Fans of the series got to see the returning couples in vital rolls to this book, and the series in general, without riding in on a wave of saccharine. I liked Catullus. I liked Gemma. And I liked them together. This was a solid final installment to what has been a good solid series. Victorian historical, paranormal, adventure, saga and romance all rolled into one. Impressive indeed.
Final Grade = B-