Review of UNBOUND by Lori Devoti (see her website)
Silhouette Nocturne, June 2007
Hellhound Risk Liedolf might be the Alpha in his back, but he's bound by the witch Lusse and compelled to do her work. And her work is witch-hunting. Lusse drains every witch he brings in, consuming her powers and adding them to her own. Risk has learned two painful lessons--witches can never gain enough power and they never give up what they seize. But when Risk tracks down an unusually powerful witch and learns that she is an identical twin, he wonders if he could turn the situation to his advantage. Twins are magic, and a pair of witch-twins might just have the power to break Lusse's hold over him. What happens to the witches afterwards doesn't concern him--can't concern him. After all, they're just witches, right?
Kara Shane has been getting more and more desperate as she's searched for her missing sister. She's even gone to a horrible bar following a clue her sister left. There she's jumped by her ultimate nightmare--not one but two huge dogs, fighting over her like mongrels battling over a bone. When she wakes up and discovers she's been abducted by a super-sexy guy, she realizes that her world may never be the same. But this 'man' (Hellhounds are shapeshifters) talks to her of strange things--witches, magic, and power. Sure her twin, Kelly, played with magic, but everyone knows that's fantasy, don't they?
Although Risk's mind may be free, his body is not. And Lusse ups the pressure on him when she announces she has his son as hostage against his behavior. He can play on Lusse's greed for a while, telling her that he can't turn over Kara until he also tracks down the second sister, but Lusse is already suspicious of him, of his tendency to go 'too human.' Getting emotionally involved with Kara is certainly not a part of Risk's plan. But tracking down Kara's sister leads to an even bigger mystery and an even larger threat. When gods get involved, even witches have to take cover.
Author Lori Devoti (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Devoti) switches from comedy to paranormal in a strong adventure. Torn between her fears and her growing strength, Kara makes an interesting and complex character, learning to trust herself and to trust others around her. Risk is simultaneously powerful and dominated by the women around him--an intriguing combination. I haven't seen shapeshifting Hellhounds used in urban fantasy before, and the idea works.
Devoti mixes in a bit of Norse mythology, opening the doors to what seems a far bigger universe than could be encompassed in this single adventure. I certainly hope we'll see more of Lusse and demi-divine Jorman in future stories. UNBOUND is a well written and engaging story. I confess I almost missed my subway stop because I couldn't put it down--and had to scramble to make it off.
Ready to buy? Click the 'buy from Amazon button':
Rather buy it from Barnes and Noble?