While this book isn’t the conclusion to a series, it most definitely is the conclusion to the focus being on the romance of Beauty and the Beast- Jolie and Hauk- and on their personal struggles with the Ananke cult. I tried to be careful with my anticipation because I was eager to know how things would go down for these two and its never fair to an author to have too much anticipation and blame disappointment on his/her work. That being said, I couldn’t tamp it all down entirely so I started this book with baited breath.
It is a few weeks after the grand climactic battle to free Hauk from the Ananke and a bit of time getting used to all the revelations that came before it and with it. Hauk is still in the hospital, but Jolie is determined to soldier on for the Underlight in their quest to hinder the Ananke’s progress. She tries to focus on her latest mission even while she is reeling a bit from her own decision to take things to the next level with Hauk making him boyfriend status. After a few heart-thumping moments and a follow up conflict, they discover the disturbing truth that the Ananke are attempting to inject members of the Underlight with something that they can’t figure out the purpose for. Hauk and Jolie settle in to testing out these disturbing waters of a relationship. While they make no progress with the inoculations, they do make a few progressive attempts to start things up physically. Hauk’s issues get in their way a bit though it wasn’t a total disaster until Hauk lets loose the three big words in the heat of the moment. Jolie freaks showing that Hauk isn’t the only one with damage. The ‘I Love You’ words have meaning for both of them, but unfortunately it is different meanings. Jolie must face the fact that she must communicate and Hauk must determine that Jolie can get past his scars. Before they progress much further, the Ananke makes their move. The unthinkable happens (have a tissue ready for this part) and then just when you recover from that another big ultimatum is slapped on top taking their relationship struggles before and putting them on steroids.
I’m still recovering a bit from where the author took this one. The book had three major sections that dictated the focus of the plot, the pacing and the tone switching up each time. It was like watching a movie with that attention grabbing opening scene then the time of building and tension until it all exploded into the grand finale that left me with my mouth open in shock and a denouement with a few huge aftershock ripples. What a ride!
The character growth arc takes up much of the book so be prepared for the pace to slow way down and progress to become more of a subtle thing. With both Hauk and Jolie, you see them start to grow and then they have a set back, but each time they progress a little. Even though I can be analytical about it now, while reading it that wasn’t the case. I was so vested in their relationship and even individual storylines that I found myself muttering, growling and cheering them on at different points. Jolie has always driven me insane with her pushy nature and big demands even though she misses the fact that she’s not exactly communicating encouraging vibes to Hauk. She shuts him out and shuts down emotions with her ‘humor’, but expects 100% from him. Hauk gets frustrating because he can’t accept that he is worthy of Jolie though I totally understand his insecurities. I guess I considered all those times they faced off against death for each other more than enough evidence that they shared a deep love and should be together, but when you’re caught up in your own messy issues you don’t see things that clearly.
In the end, I was thoroughly satisfied with the results even though my expectations were met in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated (sign of a good story). I could see a few dangling threads with other characters that have me vested in finding out what happens with them- Travis in particular.
While I’m still vague on the classification of this series since it crosses into several genre possibilities, I think that just makes it a good recommendation for a wider group of readers. This is a series that must be read in order and would suit those who enjoy their romance spicy with a unique dark, gritty backdrop and two very strong, but torn by their issues lovers.
Many thanks to Net Galley for providing this book for review purposes.
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