Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews ******
I have been a fan of Ilona Andrews' books ever since I was bored in Borders one day, listlessy browsing through the Science Fiction section alphabetically in 2007. I had just finished all of my regular "auto-buy" books, and had nothing interesting to read. None of my "auto-buy" authors had a new book out at that time. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels Book 1) had just come out, and it practically jumped off the shelf into my hand. Something about the cover, along with the name, drew me in. I thought it was going to be about witches. I bought it, took it home and read it in one weekend. I already wanted more. I had to wait. To amuse myself I looked online at her website, and discovered "she" was a "them". Ilona and Gordon Andrews, in fact. I can't imagine writing a book at all, much less with my husband. We would never get anything done, since we agree on basically NOTHING. Makes for an interesting marriage though, (grin!). When I finally was able to buy Magic Burns, (Kate Daniels, book 2) I finished that book way too fast. I've had Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, book 3) for a while, but this past year has been the year of B.A.D.D. (remember? Book Attention Deficit Disorder?, my totally made up affliction?)
Curran (beastlord), Jim (security for beastlord and Kate's sometimes partner), Derek (a young were), Saiman (mysteriously rich shapeshifter), Andrea (fellow Knight of the Order, and in-the-closet beastkin) and Raphael, (were-hyena) all make appearances as important characters in this third Kate Daniels book. All of these characters are great secondary characters, and we learn a little more about each of them in this book.
Derek, Kate's friend is tortured and almost murdered by a team of fighters from the Midnight Games, an event that has been banned for the weres by Curran. The Midnight Games has an interest for Saiman, Derek and now Kate, since Derek has been left for dead. Derek has been tortured so badly that he cannot shift, which would promote his healing. He is essentially in a coma, near death. Jim, the head of security for Curran's clan has gone into hiding from Curran, along with his security team. As well as finding out why, and by whom Derek has been tortured, Kate tries to find the reason for Derek's strange condition, tries to keep out of Curran's way, while aiding Jim and his team, and they all try to solve the mystery of a few of the shapeshifters' deaths (shapeshifters who were also unable to shift during a crucial time).
While all this is going on, Curran continues to pursue Kate, in his beastlord, shapeshifter ways, few of which Kate understands. Kate, on the otherhand continues to fight her growing attraction to Curran, as she feels she would be just another notch for Curran. I'm usually put off by romantic elements in urban fantasy books, but the growing attraction between Kate and Curran is handled with humor and some mystery (especially for Kate) which amuses me.
The interplay between characters was very entertaining, and Kate's inner dialogue was wonderful to read, at times smartass, and at other times blood thirsty. The conversations between characters were also good reads.
" '.and Cesare's head'
They looked at me.
'Why the head?' Doolittle asked.
' Because it's easy to carry and I can torture it for a long time' And I didn't just say it out loud, did I? I checked their faces. Yep, I did. "
" 'His Majesty needs a can-I girl anyway. And I'm not it'
'A can-I girl?' Andrea frowned.
I leaned back. ' "Can I fetch you your food, Your Majesty? Can I tell you how strong and mighty you are, Your Majesty? Can I pick out your fleas, Your Majesty? Can I kiss your ass, Your Majesty? Can I..." '
It dawned on me that Raphael was sitting very still. Frozen, like a statue, his gaze fixed on the point above my head.
' He's standing behind me, isn't he?'
Andrea nodded slowly.
'Technically it should be "may I. " ' Curran said, his voice deeper than I remembered. 'Since you're asking permission."
......'To answer your question, yes, you may kiss my ass. Normally I prefer to maintain my personal space, but you're a Friend of the Pack and your services have proven useful once or twice. I strive to accommodate the wishes of persons friendly to my people. My only question is, would your kissing my ass be obeisance, grooming, or foreplay?' "
For my own taste, this book has it all. Suspense, fights, new myths, new creatures, danger, humor, good conversations, character expansion (for all the characters), and a little sexual tension. A little goes a long way.
The only thing I hate about reading books like Magic Strikes is finishing them, and waiting for the next book in the series. The consolation, looking forward to the next installment, knowing it's going to be a quality read. A couple of my favorite characters in this third book are Raphael, Andrea and Saiman. My rating, from my arbitrary rating system - ****** (a keeper, auto-buy list, recommending to others, and looking for other books by this author).