Marjorie M. Liu
2008, Urban Fantasy Romance
Leisure Books, $7.99, 341 pages, Amazon ASIN 0843957670 Part of a series
I already had a Dirk and Steele novel in my tbr pile, so I was happy for the chance to review The Last Twilight , the most recent installment in this unique series. Luckily, the story stands on its own, so I wasnít lost. In fact, the hints of backstory, mixed with the success of this book, only entice me to run out and read the books that came before.
Rikki Kinn is arm-wrestling a Congolese soldier when she gets a call from the CDC telling her sheís about to go wheels up. An incredibly dangerous virus wiped out an entire small village in a matter of hours, so Rikki, one of the worldís top virus hunters, gets sent into action. But the virus isnít the only dangerous thing in the jungle. Rebels cover the area, fighting for dominance; the government soldiers are often corrupt; and somebody is willing to kill to get their hands on Rikki. However, she has faced terrifying situations before and if thereís one thing she knows, itís how to survive.
But this time Rikki wonít have to face the danger alone. Her boss knows that doctors are disappearing all over the area, so he calls Dirk and Steele to get her some protection. A team consisting of Amiri, Eddie, and Max make their way to Africa. When Amiri is shown a picture of Rikki, he immediately feels a connection. But Amiri knows that relationships are out of the question for him, because heís not exactly normal. As a cheetah shapeshifter, he has hidden from the human world as much as possible. Most of his experiences with humans have ended in disaster, the worst of which were his confinement and torture at the hands of the Consortium and the death of the woman he loved.
When Amiri and Eddie show up at the village site, Rikki is on her second day of piling up the bodies. She and her colleague are busy pulling bodies from the river when a crocodile suddenly tries to grab Rikki. Amiri saves her, but in the ensuing struggle, both of their masks are knocked askew and they are exposed to the contaminated water. While the two wait for the terrifying conclusion of this exposure, the village is attacked by rebels. During the fight and flight, the three start piecing together clues about what is going on in the area and why Rikki seems connected to it all.
It took me a while to get into this book. Although the pace is quick right from the get-go, the writing style kept popping me out of the story. The author uses plenty of purple prose, filled with sentence fragments and triple adjectives. Hereís an example, with Rikkiís description of Amiriís eyes: "Rikki searched his eyes, looking for that unnatural light. Nothing, only amber, gold, pale as honey. Too much to stare at for long. Like being scorched by the sun. An intense look, eerily intimate."
Though still bothersome at the end, I could ignore the style somewhat as I was absorbed in the story and it wasnít as big a deal. Rikki also had several really gross, violent thoughts (such as wanting to bite someoneís face off their skull) that jarred me every time I came across one. Luckily, the bookís good qualities overpowered these troublesome stylistic issues.
Rikki and Amiri have been severely hurt, both physically and emotionally. Consequently, they have erected huge barriers to keep people out and itís wonderful to watch them learn to trust each other. Although certainly sexy, emotion drives their relationship, which makes it that much deeper. It made me believe that they were meant for each other and will truly have an HEA.
The action never lets up in this book, but the pace was comfortable enough and it kept me glued to the pages. I really liked all the unique powers and Iím glad these had negative effects as well. It made for a very well-balanced, believable story. The secondary characters really interested me. I canít wait to read more about Eddie, who has the ability to start fires with his mind. Rictor (a character from past books) also shows up and I so want to know what his story is.
Despite its purple attributes, The Last Twilight really won me over. It was interesting, smart, and captivating. Iíd heard a lot of buzz about this series and now I know why. Iíll reiterate some of the other reviewersí sentiments and suggest that if you like paranormals and havenít yet checked out this series, do it!
-- Andi Davis
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