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Friday, May 28, 2010

'Magic Bleeds' Kate Daniels #4 by Ilona ANDREWS

From the BLURB:

Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren’t for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it rose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle—especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.

When she’s called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar midway between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers there’s a new player in town. One who’s been around for thousands of years—and rode to war at the side of Kate’s father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family

This is the 4th book in Ilona Andrews’s ‘Kate Daniels’ series. Once again I've needed sub-headings to aid my muddled reviewer brain.
SPOILERS for the last 3 books, minor spoilers for ‘Magic Bleeds’.

High Expectations

This was probably the most anticipated ‘Kate Daniels’ instalment, because so much happened at the end of #3 ‘Magic Strikes’. At the end of that book, Kate’s biological secret came under threat as she came face-to-face with Hugh D’Ambray, right-hand-man to Kate’s psychotic father.
In that book (and books #1 and #2) Ilona Andrews also set up tension between the people’s ‘Order’ and the werecreatures, ‘Pack’ – little political underpinnings that hinted all was not well between these two factions.

Also in book #3, Kate started to develop more of an understanding of ‘Pack’ law, hierarchy and politics – Ilona Andrews dropped little tidbits of information that, fans presumed, would come in handy for Kate in the future.

But the biggest cliff-hanger of all was in the relationship progression between Kate and Pack Alpha, Curran. When we left them at the end of ‘Magic Strikes’ Kate and Curran had all but confessed their love for one another and scheduled their first official dinner ‘date’.

Writing-duo, Ilona Andrews, certainly left an enticing trail of crumbs leading fans to ‘Magic Bleeds’ – and I am happy to say they deliver on all fronts!

Definition of sexual tension, see; ‘Kate & Curran’

Husband and wife writing team, Ilona Andrews, are the absolute *masters* of pace. Seriously. For the three books fans were fed sparse physical contact between Kate and Curran, heaped with enough sexual tension that could only be cut with a chainsaw. For three books fans have been living on the hope of snarky comments, lingering looks, and an ‘oh-so-close!’ hot-tub scene.

Ilona Andrews chose the unconventional Urban Fantasy route of drip-feeding fans their series’ HEA couple. They resisted writing smutty sex scenes in favour of building up a ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ romantic tension. It could have backfired – but it didn’t. Certainly there were moments when, as a fan, your frustration was piqued and you likely screamed “just get it on already!” at the top of your lungs. But Ilona Andrews gifted both Kate and Curran with enough legitimate personal hang-up’s that a hasty coupling was implausible.
Kate’s roadblocks ran deep – she’s been harbouring a terrible secret since her birth and the telling of it could get her and those closest to her killed.
Curran’s stalling took a little longer to tease out – but the crux of his issue was to do with his childhood and a great loss he suffered.

The other reason fans were so invested in Kate & Curran (before there officially was a Kate & Curran) was that separately they were very likable characters; Kate’s wise-ass femme-fatale and Curran’s egocentric lothario. But when thrown together it was a case of opposites attracting and occasionally exploding. It was fun to read Kate & Curran fight what was so obvious to fans. But at the same time, fans liked Kate and Curran separately and were happy enough to watch their feelings unfold...

That being said, I think Ilona Andrews made the right decision to bring Kate and Curran’s ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ dance to an end with this fourth book.

Drop the tension and just keep the sex

Fans can rest assured that Kate and Curran do (FINALLY!) hook up in this book. It should come as no spoiler to anyone that these two finally get their act together. And it is oh so good! With all that sexual tension building up for 3 books, Ilona Andrews certainly had a lot of expectation to meet with regards to ‘the hook up’. Well, fans will be happy to know that Ilona Andrews absolutely delivers – Kate & Curran share intimate, funny, sexy scenes that leave no doubt in anyone’s mind as to their feelings for one another. Phew!

“It won’t last.” The words escaped before I had a chance to think about it.
“What won’t last?”
“You and me. Us. Even if we win this time, something else will come along and ruin our lives. Eventually I’ll lose a fight or you will, and it will be over.”
He pulled me closer to him. “Something else will come along. When it does, we’ll kill it. Later, something else will show up. We’ll kill it, too, and then we’ll go home.”

A whole new world

The best thing about Kate & Curran finally getting it on though is that it opens doors for new storylines. Their coupling isn’t a means to an end, but rather a new beginning. By accepting Curran as her ‘mate’, Kate now becomes the Pack’s Alpha female, and must assume the political/ceremonial role. This will put a very interesting spin on Kate and the series as a whole.

It’s somewhat similar to what’s happened to Mercy Thompson in Patricia Briggs’s series, in that now our heroine has accepted her hubby, her whole world will change. Kate was once a firm outsider and loner, but by accepting Curran she has also accepted a menagerie of lycanthropes under her care. Things will get interesting, and I for one can’t wait to see where Kate’s new role as Alpha will take this series and her character...

Looking ahead

Ilona Andrews is contracted for 7 'Kate Daniels' books, which means we have 3 more to go before the curtain falls. In ‘Magic Bleeds’ it feels as though Ilona Andrews can see the end on the horizon and is preparing readers. Certainly in ‘Magic Bleeds’ Andrews lays more ground-work for the series’ main villain, Roland. There’s still wriggle room for a couple more books before this big-bad comes to the fore, but how many more? I’d hate to see this series officially end, but at the same time Ilona Andrews (and their wonderful ‘pacing’) have really created an enticing villain and it feels as though the plot is gearing up for a major smack-down soon. I, for one, cannot wait to see how it all ends... but at the same time I don’t want it to ever end! Grr.

In a word?
WOW!

This was one of my most anticipated books of 2010, and I am thrilled to say Ilona Andrews delivered on all fronts. I wanted more information about Roland and Kate’s biological family; I got it. I wanted more Pack business; I got it. And most of all I wanted Kate & Curran goodness and I got it in spades!

My one complaint (and it’s a small one) was that I wanted more Derek. After the events of ‘Magic Strikes’ I was interested to see how he was coping, but he only has a small role in this book. But it’s a little grievance in a whole book of ‘WOW!’. Loved this book, can’t wait for #5 and reading Kate and Curran in couple bliss!

5/5

4 comments:

  1. As seems to be my MO lately, I skipped the review b/c I haven't read this yet (Powell's did ship my books Wednesday so I'm hoping to get them soon!). 5/5 was all I needed to see - *groans* I can't wait!!!

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  2. OMG I finished this book yday and I agree with you 150%!! This book was amazing and Kate & Curran was definitelly delivered tenfold =)

    also... just to let you know that I received the parcel! Thanks so much!! =)))

    Awesome review!

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  3. Great review Danielle, you hit the nail on the head in many spots! Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did! :D One of the few books this year that has not disappointed me.

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  4. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Can't wait to see what happens next...it was everything I thought it would be and more.

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