I have this little quirk when it comes to reading ... I love evil. Evil bad boys, evil masterminds and in the case of LINKED, the all seeing evil presence. When I was approached to read Hope Welsh's recent release, I took one look at the blurb and smiled and when I then saw the cover with the evil eyes staring back at me, I almost cackled with delight. I'm new to the author's writing so I wondered if she'd provided me a story to appease my quirk and boy did she ever. Evil comes in all forms and as I began reading, I loved the characters I met, the unique storyline and I was especially happy to find one of my favorite kinds of evil - the indignant.
LINKED begins with the mutterings of the Evil One, a menacing presence who'd be cursed by Druids and trapped in a prison for over two millennia. While there, he'd learned of a prophecy speaking of two pieces that held the ultimate power of his destruction and with nothing but time, he plotted and schemed. Enter into the story Lana, the daughter of a psychic mother who was murdered months earlier and a woman who desperately wants nothing to do with anything paranormal. Whether through her own emerging gifts or a message from beyond, she's awoken one night to the sound of someone in her home and as she escapes with the intruder close behind, she crosses paths with Cole, a private detective who is more than just an incredibly sexy man. As Cole's protective instincts kick in and an instant connection is forged, Cole teams with Tara to get to the bottom of who her mysterious stalker is, only to find more questions than answers. How was Tara's mother involved? What is this legend/prophecy that people are talking about? And what do Cole and Tara have to do with the two pieces mention? Despite the danger that is constantly present as the time from the ultimate confrontation approaches, Tara and Cole find solace and passion with one another as their rapidly developing attraction grows and blossoms. In each other they find love but will it be enough to overcome the Evil One's threat and will they lose it, even as they begin to explore it? A great storyline with just the right amount of suspenseful flavor to keep me hooked until the end.
I really liked the characters of the story - Lana and Cole and loved the chemistry they had almost instantly. I loved that there was a real sense of humor between them, a sassy playfulness and that Lana was willing to put herself out there just a little so Cole could do his "manly duty" and help her. That said though, I had no doubt that Lana could care for herself and they made a great team as they tried to figure out exactly what was happening. They really had nothing to go on but they had faith and tried anyway, finding necessary clues along the way. I will say that I love a woman who can have a hunky man completely shift in front of her and it not even faze her. I understood the feeling of being lied to but me, I'm feeling all lusty towards a man and he busts out into a tiger? I'd be shocked stupid and unable to move but not Lana she was able to do what she needed. I really admired the way that Lana looked at the situation - she sweated over what she could and accepted what she couldn't. She's being stalked by the ultimate evil, the man she's attracted to is a shape shifter, she has "powers" she doesn't like surfacing while dealing with the fact that Cole very much is the one. She took a lot in her stride and I would have loved to know more of her thought processes because you just know there HAD to be a lot going on inside. Great character!
I loved the protectiveness of Cole. I loved that he was the kind of man who when he sees a woman in the middle of the night being chased by a stranger, doesn't turn the other way but rushes to save her. That speaks of chivalry and honor and his willingness to get involved with something that he doesn't think involve him because he feels he needs to was amazing. I loved how he interacted with Lana, talked with her, soothed and comforted her and of course, got down and loving with her. He's the type of man you want in your life, the man you know you can count on to be bigger than the problem and if he isn't, he shows no fear, oozes confidence and walks at the situation head on like he owns it. He was the first to acknowledge that the feelings he had for Lana were love, that they were different from what he'd experienced before and I loved that he wasn't ashamed to say it. Most of all I loved that he acknowledged they were too soon and vowed to give Lana more time. He was sensible, not embarrassed to state the obvious but to me still incredibly sexy to be open with how he felt and not hide from it. I definitely enjoyed getting to know what I could about him.
I have to say I loved the Evil One in the story and it was this character that had me laughing and smiling the most. In my mind I had this image of this big bad power that everyone is afraid of and had to be cursed into a prison by Druids because he was dangerous. He warrants his own prophecy, which in my mind makes him a force to be reckoned with and those opening scenes as I met him, I could feel his malice for everything. The man reeked of revenge and gloated about how he was going to destroy all in his path because ultimately. he's the big bad!! As the story went on though, my image of him started to change. Oh he was still the big bad. Coming in the shape of a wolf with evil filled eyes, giving messages capable of curdling blood, he definitely had the goods but as he began to notice he wasn't so infamous... that his foes didn't see him as he saw himself, I began to get the image of a dark figure in robes stomping his feet and pouting. "It's not fair.. I'm the Evil One. You all must cower before me" LOL The way Lana and Cole reacted to him through ignorance infuriated him and undermined his grand schemes for domination which must have truly sucked for his over sized meglamanic ego. I can't stress enough how much I LOVED this and of being able to see his reactions and the way he dealt with the blow.
This truly was a great book to read. I loved the unique take Hope used in explaining the origins of shape shifters and I had never heard it before. It was believable and I wish I could have learned a little more. I guess that's the one thing I would add. This is a great book in and of itself but I honestly feel, with extra character insight and detail, this book could be so much better. I was able to see everything the author was trying to describe and with the little extras added, the scenes could literally jump off the page. Having said that, I would definitely recommend this to people to read. I loved it and was able to relate to the characters. It left me with a good feeling in my heart and for me, that's why I read. Happy reading!!