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Thursday, February 18, 2010

'Blood Magic: World of the Lupi #6' by Eileen WILKS

From the BLURB:

As they plan their wedding, Lily Yu and lupus prince Rule Turner are facing a great deal of tension from both their families. Not everyone can accept their mixed marriage: she’s Chinese; he’s a werewolf. Even Lily’s grandmother is acting strangely distant, though Lily and Rule are about to discover that her behaviour has nothing to do with their upcoming nuptials.
A powerful, undying nemesis has come to San Diego to exact vengeance on Lily’s family and turn the city into a feeding ground. It’s up to Lily and Rule to stop her, in spite of ancient treaties and an inheritance passed down through the blood. Otherwise San Diego could go up in flames and they won’t live to make it to the altar.

This is the sixth book in Wilk’s ‘World of the Lupi’ series.

I’ve got to admit, I really wasn’t satisfied with this installment. I’m struggling to put my finger on precisely why I was so disheartened with this book – and I think it has to do with unmet expectations.

Wilks’s fifth book ‘Mortal Sins’ had such a beautiful heart-in-your-throat ending, and I thought it would be a great starting point for Lily and Rule in ‘Blood Magic’. At the end of ‘Mortal Sins’ Rule defied lycanthrope convention and proposed to Lily:

Her heart fluttered. “Why?” she whispered. “Why do you want this? I love you. We’re bonded for life. Marriage won’t…” Her voice trailed off. She swallowed.
“I want to plight you my troth.” His voice was soft now. Quiet. “It’s a lovely old word, isn’t it? Troth. It means loyalty, the pledge of fidelity. It comes from an Old English word meaning truth. You are my truth, Lily.”

I was really looking forward to ‘Blood Magic’ concentrating on the Lily/Rule wedding and Rule having to battle his clan and the press about how unconventional it is for a lycanthrope to enter into a monogamous marriage.
But the blurb’s opening line is very misleading; “As they plan their wedding, Lily Yu and lupus prince Rule Turner are facing a great deal of tension from both their families”. Lily and Rule do talk, briefly and heatedly, about their marriage plans – mainly the fact that Lily is stalling and possibly getting cold feet. After that the book concentrates on the dramatic mystery plot, putting Lily and Rule on the backburner.

I was even more frustrated by the lack of Lily/Rule discussion in ‘Blood Magic’ because the sneak-peek excerpt into book #7 (‘Blood Challenge’ – release date unknown – the excerpt is available from Wilks’s website) seems to hint that that book will concentrate heavily on the repercussions of their marriage. I was just annoyed that the blurb for ‘Blood Magic’ seems better suited to upcoming ‘Blood Challenge’.

My annoyance stems from the fact that Lily and Rule haven’t really had a chance to sit down and psychoanalyze their ‘mate bond’. Various world-ending catastrophes keep popping up and because they are still in the early stages of their relationship, both Lily and Rule tend to pussy-foot around their feelings for one another. In all the books Wilks does eventually write a scene in which Lily and Rule ‘have it out’ – but it’s usually a very slap/dash “we’re in the middle of a disaster and have to quickly address our personal issues” type of way. I was really hoping that a good portion of ‘Blood Magic’ would be dedicated to Lily and Rule’s personal problems.

Very early on I was quite excited by the plot developments in ‘Blood Magic’ – I was particularly intrigued by the appearance of a secondary character called Cody Beck who works for the Sheriff’s department and is Lily’s ex-boyfriend. I liked Cody’s appearance for two reasons – one is the fact that Wilks hasn’t really revealed much about Lily’s background before Rule entered her life. We know a lot about her family, and that she was a homicide detective, but readers (and Rule) are still very in the dark about her life before the mate bond.

Secondly, I thought introducing an ex-lover of Lily’s was a nice change of pace, because Wilks always mentions how Rule (and all lycanthropes, in fact) have very big sexual appetites – they don’t believe in marriage or jealousy and revel in pleasures of the flesh. As a result, Rule was a real play-boy before settling down with Lily – and throughout the series Lily has to contend with other people’s misconceptions about Rule’s promiscuity and her own jealousy at the fact that Rule has had a lot of lovers. I just liked the idea that Rule would be getting a taste of his own medicine.
Unfortunately this storyline doesn’t really pan out – we learn a bit about Lily’s previous relationship, but not enough to know how it impacted Lily emotionally. And there was never a big confrontation between Rule and Cody – Rule never even really admitted his jealousy.

The mystery plot of ‘Blood Magic’ is perhaps the best Wilks has written in the series thus far. She raises the stakes pretty high from the get-go by having Cullen Seaborne be the victim of an attempted assassination. From there the ‘whodunnit’ is intriguing and well-paced – the villain is complex and scary, and best of all has a vendetta against Lily’s Grandmother. Much is revealed about Grandmother’s past, and it impacts Lily in a very unusual way.

So while I did appreciate the dramatic plot of ‘Blood Magic’, I guess I was most disheartened because Wilks didn’t deliver on the emotional front. And it’s a shame because the end of ‘Mortal Sins’ was so heart-felt and romantic. I was doubly disappointed because there aren’t too many Lily/Rule lovey dovey scenes in ‘Blood Magic’. What there is, is pretty tame;

He clasped her hand and her waist, leaving several inches between them, and murmured, “We missed our dance.” And he began humming.
So she danced in bra and panties with her beautiful, naked Rule, with the lights of the city twinkling at them from the window wall. He danced her into the living area, humming a 1930s torch song, one that had been old-fashioned even back when he was born.

Wilks started out writing quite smutty Lily/Rule scenes in ‘Tempting Danger’, but hasn’t really managed to provide subsequent smuttiness in later books, unfortunately.

I think I had my expectations too high for this book. My fault. I thought Wilks would deliver on the Lily/Rule emotional front, but ‘Blood Magic’ is very plot-heavy and offers little insight into Lily and Rule’s relationship. On the plus side it looks as though book #7 ‘Blood Challenge’ will explore what ‘Blood Magic’ did not; the downside is that book seven will probably have a 2011 release date.



  1. Danielle,

    I saw this one in the store - but realized it was the latest in a series - so I left it on the shelf. :)

    I see that this one let you down a little - but as a whole - would you recommend the series?


  2. Michelle - definitely recommend the series. It's a werewolf book, but with a spin on the old lycanthrope myth. Very, very entertaining series with a strong romance at its centre.

  3. Okay,loved book 1 and 2, have book 3 in my TBR but since I knew it's not about Lily and Rule I haven't read it yet...must get back to it!!

  4. I totally agree with you Danielle... The mystery and action were awesome and I love me some grandmother... but the romance wa lacking, I had the same expectations going into this book!

    Great review!

  5. Patti - I really struggled with 'Night Season' because it was about Cynna and Cullen, with less focus on Lily & Rule. I don't like Cynna's character at all, and I really resented the fact that to know about plot developments Ms. Wilks was pretty much forcing me to endure her book. lol - it's not all that bad (Cullen is a hot diversion) but I can totally relate to where you're coming from.

  6. I think I'm putting this series on my list to buy. It's been around my periphery for a while.

  7. I agree with you, not that the plot for Blood Magic wasn't compelling but i was hoping Ms Wilks would up the romance for this installment.
    The ending to Mortal Sin's was...lovely. I can't find a better word. And I was looking forward to more of that in Blood Magic.
    I always get the feeling that she's intentionally holding herself back on this to avoid the negative feedback that usually comes with an overdose of sappiness (think Twilight).
    I still love this series but man, it better end with Lily and Rule making lots of female Lupi babies that can Change or with Lily herself Changing.
    Oh screw it, I want both.

  8. I personally loved the previous books, especially the story of Cynna and Cullen. It was very rewarding


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