NO SPOILERS or plot summaries.
HIGH LEVEL: YES! Just that. YES! Yes, you should read this. Yes, you will like it. It was a seriously great read. Fast paced, high stakes, rich magical world with vivid, down to earth characters. I honestly wasn't sure after reading the first couple pages, but a few more pages in and I was HOOKED.
MYTHOS & STYLE: This is more of an Urban Fantasy than a romance, though there is a stronger element of romance than in many UFs. It was something of a blend of the two- a well-crafted blend. The magical world was cleverly written and diverse, ranging from witches to angels to hags. This could be considered a unique take on vampires- the Shadowblades and Sunspears. It was all very clever. Story is told from two perspectives- the female and male leads, which is interesting specifically because it isn't a true para-romance. It worked VERY well. The violence was fast and bloody and devastating. Not a faint hearted book.
CHARACTERS: Max, our heroine, is a strong lead. She makes a great central character- she has depth and flaws and enough anger to boil the words off the page. I felt her struggles from page one until the back cover. The supporting characters were all vibrant and full. Each of them sympathetic in their own way making up a great "band of brothers" type team. The "bad guys" were a little too stereotypical and lacked the same depth that the others had. Alexander, who was the male lead, was perhaps an even BETTER character than Max. He was something of a tragic hero- his 100+ year lifespan was very clear in how he was written. His loyalty, his strength, his struggles- wow. It was a real treat to watch Max & Alexander cautiously dance around each other.
BOTTOM LINE: I just loved this book and I could just go on and on about why. I couldn't put it down and I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up, so I'm sure I missed an appointment or two.
1. Ilona Andrew's gritty, post-apocalyptic magic vs technology world: Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)
2. Karen Chance's two highly energetic, very sexy vamp series Touch the Dark (Cassandra Palmer, Book 1) and the related series (start reading Cassandra's series first) Midnight's Daughter (Dorina Basarab, Dhampir, Book 1)
3. Jocelyn Drake's vampire/were/demon centric series full of grit: Nightwalker (Dark Days, Book 1)
4. Jennifer Estep's stone-magic wielding, hard, cold, vicious assassin Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)
5. Jeaniene Frost's vamp mystery packed with action Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 1)
6. Chloe Neill's spunky vampire themed Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires, Book 1)
7. Marjorie Liu's cold and murky, though somewhat abstract series of inherited heroism The Iron Hunt (Hunter Kiss, Book 1)
8. Lilith Saintcrow's two series, dark & gritty Night Shift (Jill Kismet, Hunter, Book 1) and Working for the Devil (Dante Valentine, Book 1)
9. Nalini Singh's creative use of angels and vampires in Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter)