In this third installment of the World of the Lupi series, Lily and Rule have headed to DC so that Lily can assist the Secret Service with their demon problem and while there, Rule can do some smoozing for the upcoming bill regarding the Lupi rights. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? And that’s what I love about this series. Nothing is ever straight forward for these two. Excitement and danger just seem to find them no matter what.
Beginning from where the last one left off, Lily and Rule find themselves in DC during the holiday season. They are both tentatively trying to pick up the pieces from what almost destroyed them in book two. Rule privately struggles with the fact that his wolf nature is edgier and closer to the surface while Lily sees the changes in Rule and secretly wonders if he misses, and prefers, the other Lily who she has vague memories from when her soul was divided.
They choose thoughtful Christmas presents for each other. Rule gets Lily a lovely coat to wear with all her nice things for all the formal functions they attend and Lily gets Rule tickets to the Handel’s Messiah concert. And that is when the not-so fun stuff begins. A wave of magic that ripples over the whole country and beyond has weird effects on those born of magic right in the middle of the concert. Behind the wave of magic comes demonic attacks and trouble with technology. Rule and Lily along with a Leidolf wolf are caught up in the crosshairs when a demon goes after Rule which is one example of what happens simultaneously around the world to all the Lupi heirs. They fight it off, but at the cost of Rule becoming injured and poisoned by the demon and the Leidolf wolf being killed while Rule is under formal obligation to him which plays out with some surprising results for Rule, Leidolf clan and a huge scene near the end of the story.
The FBI’s special unit is scrambled and stretched thin as they investigate the phenomena going on and try to find a way to stop it. Lily and Cyenna are given charge of a few of the local demon sightings. Cullen has been away chasing leads on the dragons, but rushes back after getting an up close and personal sighting of a demon and its rider who bares striking resemblance to Cyenna’s description of her former mentor. Cullen arrives in time to join Cyenna to investigate the attack and killing of the Leidolf heir which takes them into the Leidolf clanhome and more trouble.
Lily and Rule receive a few unexpected guests while they are still working on the demon angle back in DC in the form of Toby, Rule’s son playing truant and Lily’s grandmother who comes with information that will help everyone understand what is really happening. The news doesn’t reassure anyone because it means big changes are coming. And those changes come right to their door leaving a wake of destruction and loss.
The investigation takes them in surprising directions and calls on each of the protagonists to confront something about themselves before they can well and truly defeat a new and formidable enemy.
Story threads are left dangling after two new shocking situations develop- one for Rule as a result of Leidolf treachery and one for Cullen and Cyenna- oh, and for grandmother too. I have to gloat and say that I saw the thing that was revealed about grandmother coming from back in the first book.
Though the plot is getting more complicated with its separate threads and growing number of regular characters, I found that the blend of exciting and dangerous stuff was well balanced with the introspective stuff. While the last book focused on Lily dealing with some things in her head, this one focuses on Rule in that way. Lily still has her need to ask questions, but she is growing wiser and her relationship with Rule is gaining in depth and understanding even while they heal from the split soul experience. They weren’t pulling at cross purposes so much and were doing better as a team. Now while Lily and Rule are getting more settled into their bonding, Cyenna and Cullen are just starting a tentative relationship with a whole different feel to it.
The plot even had room for a few sweet quiet holiday moments that really accented the fact that Rule and Lily are a family now and part of an extended family that includes all sorts. Grandmother and her take charge attitude over the Christmas tree had me cracking up. The surprising results of Lily’s attempts to patch things up with her family after the estrangement in book two were the perfect subplot for a Christmas-season paranormal story.
I like how each book adds just a few more newer and exciting pieces to the puzzle- whether its a secret from before that is explained like Cyenna’s past or a line of story that is still unexplained though it grows clearer like the stuff with the evil would-be goddess lady or whether its something wholly new to learn like the demon riders and masters and all the new Lupi stuff.
I found myself ready to grab the next book and eager to continue. I recommend this series wholeheartedly to those who love complicated shifter culture in the midst of a world that includes many other paranormals and magic users alongside the regular humans.