3.5 out of 5 flames
I would love to say my problem with this book was first book in the series problem, but sadly it’s not really the first book in the series. I mean technically it’s the first book in the Otherworld Assassins series, but it’s a spin-off from the Alien Huntress books where the world is already established.
Quick summary is that there are 3 Black Ops agents who are investigating missing Otherworlders. They’re even going to go undercover in AIR (from the Alien Huntress series). But before they can leave, the meeting place they’re in explodes and all 3 agents are taken…somewhere. Solo is sold into the Circus (I’m assuming the others will each have a story coming up). So far so good, right?
We’ve already met sweet Vika (in the prologue) whose father runs a freakshow circus. She feels horribly for how the animals are treated, but back when she was young, she tried to let the animals go and her father beat her and made her shoot her favorite lion. She tried once more when she was older, and her father beat her so badly she lost her hearing. So by the time Solo is captured, she keeps her head down, and mouth shut, and plots. But her plots need time and money, and they never included a sexy Otherworlder either.
I feel like the book had two different vibes. The first half was slow and had no humor whatsoever, whereas the second half really had that typical Gena Showalter feel. I mean, I get that the in the first half of the book the hero is caged (he’s an Otherworlder who’s been kidnapped and sold into a freakshow circus-but he’s also a Black Ops agent and if anyone can break free, he can) so there’s very little interaction that can happen between a caged “animal” and his caretaker Vika. But maybe he shouldn’t have been caged for that much of the book then? I don’t know, honestly, what it was, but I didn’t feel like this was a Gena Showalter book. The lack of humor was probably the biggest thing that bugged me. Showalter has a fabulous sense of humor that shines through in all of her books, whether it’s interaction between the characters or interaction between the narrative voice and the reader, but it’s always there. Having it decidedly missing detracted from the book. Especially in an established world.
The biggest thing that bothered me, though, were Solo’s 2 “imaginary friends,” or whatever they were. I get that one was a guardian for him, and one was more of a leech, (think angel/devil on the shoulder) but it wasn’t necessary to the book. It was weird and reminded me of JR Ward’s Wizard for Phury. I hated it in Ward’s book and I hated it in Showalter’s book. Also the huge overuse of light vs. dark drove me bonkers. Why? It was a great idea, but seriously it was shoved at us from every other page.
I did enjoy it enough to want to continue on in the series, and as many reviews have mentioned, this one isn’t as steamy as she usually writes, but I didn’t think that it was an issue the way the story was-I mean, Vika and Solo really couldn’t do anything for a big chunk of the book. I’m also not judging Showalter for one “meh” book. But I will say that if it hadn’t picked up towards the end, I don’t think I’d have rated it what I did. It would have been lower-As it is, I'm being generous with the 3.5. I liked it, but for Showalter I just expect better.
***ARC courtesy of Pocket Books