I just finished Jessica Hall's second offering, STEEL CARESS. I really was worried about romances by SL Viehl, since I found the romance between Chejiro and Duncan very creepy in the STARDOC books, and after the first book, THE DEEPEST EDGE, I thought the books would go downhill.
STEEL CARESS, however, was an excellent book. Kalen and Raven, strong secondary characters from THE DEEPEST EDGE, have been enemies for a few years, and you really need to read THE DEEPEST EDGE to understand the story. He was her commander, and after a disasterous mission in China he was the man she hated second most in the world. Now the assasin who ruined her face has reappeared and Raven is willing to do anything to catch him, even work with Kalen, who is after him to stop a tong war. The chemistry between Kalen and Raven was pretty strong. It didn't exactly scorch off the pages, but their past relationship filled the unspoken moments in every page. The mystery stays strong, and the author really juggles all of the elemnts of a complicated story with great skill. The secondary characters, too, were well drawn. Val and her husband and Lily from THE DEEPEST EDGE make the occasional cameo, as does Sean. Kameko, the heroine from the to-be-released third book also lights up the pages with a few flashes of spirit and fire. It have a feeling that THE KISSING BLADES will be one to buy.