Soulmated by Shaila Patel

Soulmated by Shaila Patel


Title: Soulmated (Joining Souls #1)
Author: Shaila Patel
Published: Jan 24th2017
Length: 300 pgs
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Month9Books
This Review is a Part of the 2020 Coastal Magic Featured Author Reading Challenge

Soulmated is a YA Urban Fantasy Romance is the first book in Shaila Patel’s Joining Souls series. At the beginning of the read things went a little slow for me; the book was interesting, but it took me a little while to get wholly engrossed into the world of the book. The writing is of excellent quality the plot was thoroughly mapped out, and it shows. 

Soulmated takes place in present-day Cary, North Carolina. The empath abilities and the love interest puts this book firmly into both the Urban Fantasy and Romance genres. Our main characters are Laxshmi Kapadia and Liam Whelan. They are both high school students with way too much on their shoulders. Liam has recently become the head of his Family and Laxshmi is stuck catering to an overbearing mom who seems determined to secure financial stability through her daughter with no regard to Laxshmi’s happiness. 

Soulmated is told in first person POV through our main character’s Laxshmi and Liam in the alternating chapter format, this format doesn’t always work, but Patel manages to continue the story from chapter to chapter and pov to pov without skipping a beat, the story flows fluidly no matter who’s pov we are reading from. I’m starting to think I prefer this format as opposed to the style where each pov is told in separate books 

Laxshmi is an Indian-American girl being raised by a traditional Indian mom; her mom is very strict and comes off as caring only for herself; she’s the villain of Laxshmi’s story. Liam is Irish, and he’s searching for the “ONE” he’s an empath. Empath royalty actually and he’s just become the head of his family. He is trying to find his one. Looking for the soulmate who will both increase his power, and enrich his life is taking a toll on him, after so many years and so many failures he’s got a bad taste in his mouth for the whole thing, it’s become a chore, and he’s nearly convinced it’s nothing but a while goose chase.

When Laxshmi and Liam meet their worlds collide, and there are several forces, determined to keep them apart, jealous classmates, racist, overbearing family members and factions within the empath community. This book mostly focuses on the necessary world-building, characterization, and the development of Liam and Laxshmi’s relationship, but by the end of the book, you’re hooked. Patel hit’s hard with a cliff hanger, so I highly recommend having book two on hand and ready to go.

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #1) By Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #1) By Amanda Bouchet

Having exhausted my weekly batch of library books, I had to make a mad dash to pick up some books an hour before work. I browsed a few shelves and discovered A Promise of Fire book 1 of The Kingmaker Chronicles series by Amanda Bouchet. The awesome cover immediately caught my eye. There was no way I was going to pass up this book. A Promise of Fire is the debut Novel by author Amanda Bouchet, a refreshing fantasy with a bit of mythology mixed in. Amanda Bouchet puts a fantastical twist on the term kingmaker.

The first character we meet is Cat our protagonist. She reminds me of some of my favorite heroines. The first one to come to mind is Kate from the Kate Daniels book series co-written by the husband and wife writing team known as Ilona Andrews. Like Kate, our main character Cat has been trained in magic and fighting.  Both characters were raised to be ruthless, emotionless, and to love no one. From birth, Cat has been taught, sometimes brutally, that friends, lovers, or any type of emotional attachment are a weakness you can’t afford. Although both characters are on the run from filicidal parents most of their lives, there are many differences; and even with so many similarities I still found the tale enjoyable.

The story is set in Sinta, and there are two other bordering Kingdoms Tarva and Fisa. Each kingdom has, for lack of a better word three factions: the Magoi, those who possess magic; Hoi Polloi (what an annoying mouthful) who are ordinary humans; and the People of the Tribal lands (Hoi Polloi who live in a tribal society and are led by a warlord). The Kingdoms are run by the Magoi, who are selfish and cruel. The Magoi tax their citizens to the brink of starvation and treat them like dirt; they terrorize the tribes, burning their villages, abusing the women, and taking the men as slaves for their wars.

For eight, Years Catalia Fisa has been hiding at the circus disguised as a soothsayer known as Cat the Magnificent. She’s a Powerful Magoi and a Kingmaker. Cat has been hiding from her past and trying to escape her destiny, but all her plans go up in flames when she meets Griffin.

Griffin Is the Beta Sinta. The second-born and leader of the tribes. He started a war to depose the ruling Sintan Magoi and put his sister Egaria on the throne.               Still fresh in his victory against the former ruling Magoi, Griffin knows that he will need powerful Magoi at his side supporting his cause. The Sintan Hoi Polloi is ecstatic over their new Royal family, while the bordering kingdoms see Sinta as ripe for a take-over.

I suppose at this point it wouldn’t surprise you if I said my favorite character was Cat. She’s strong, witty, stubborn, and loyal to a fault. Once she’s on your side, she’ll cross the ends of the earth for you. I love how her character grew from the angry girl with a world full of enemies to the protector of all those she loves.

At first, I was a little annoyed by the love interest aspect of the book. This at first, it seemed a little forced.  I got over it rather quickly though, it was inevitable really when the gods give you a gift you don’t refuse. By the end, the author succeeds in showing us just how strong love can make you.

I compared Cat to Kate Daniels earlier in this review and having done that, I must also say that the Kate Daniels Novels are better written than this book. Ilona Andrews has more experience. But I must give praise where praise is due; Bouchet didn’t have a bad voice or flow. The book just lacked the voice of a veteran author something only time and experience can make, but she breathed life into this tale. A Promise of fire isn’t riveting, but it’s entertaining and ripe with action. A quick fun read, for a debut book A Promise of Fire is most definitely a home run. If you love Kate Daniels, Jane Yellowrock, Makenzie Lane and Rachel Morgan, you’ll love Catalia Fisa.

It initially took the introduction of a few chapters for the story to grip me, but by the end of the tale, all I wanted to do was read book 2 (which unfortunately hasn’t been released yet). I mean, let’s face it most tales have been told before; I won’t give a strike for that. A story is all about the telling. I enjoyed this book. I would be both disappointed and surprised if this vibrant new series didn’t significantly improve with each book. The Kingmaker Chronicles series is destined to have a following. Amanda Bouchet is an up and coming author. I look forward to her future works.

I originally wrote this review in Sept of 2016; around that time things became busy at work and I never got around to posting it. I recently found it on my old laptop. Amanda Bouchet has since completed the Kingmaker Chronicles series, which as I predicted got better and better with each book solidifying her spot of an author of note. She has now moved on to writing a new Series. Night Chaser book one of the forthcoming Endeavor series is expected to be published Jan of 2019, and I look forward to reviewing it.

Interested in other Books By Amanda Bouchet?

Click here https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/14469474.Amanda_Bouchet

The Vanishing Girl (The Vanishing Girl #1) by Laura Thalassa

The Vanishing Girl (The Vanishing Girl #1) by Laura Thalassa

Title: The Vanishing Girl (The Vanishing Girl #1)
Author: Laura Thalassa
Published: March 15th2014
Length: 338 pgs
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Romance
Publisher: Lavabrook Publishing Group

The Vanishing Girl is the fourth book I’ve read from YA Author Laura Thalassa. I completely inhaled Thalassa’s Fallen World Series. I was happy to read more of her work. The Vanishing Girl is an earlier work of Thalassa’s published before the Fallen World series. It’s interesting to see the progression of Thalassa’s writing; her writing is more intense in the Fallen world series which is newer. But either way, the gal’s got a talent for creating evocative works which tear your heart into pieces.

 

The Vanishing Girl is told in first person POV through our main character Ember Pierce; she’s also the book’s namesake. Ember has a unique ability she can teleport. But it’s not your X-men, superhero cliché ability. Ember can only teleport for 10 minutes at the beginning of REM sleep, having almost no control of where she ends up. For five years Ember has coped with this ability while trying to live the life of a typical teenager and hiding it from her parents.

In an instant, the course of Ember’s life changes. Without warning, Ember finds out that she’s part of a government research project and her parents signed a contract for her to work for the government for two years in exchange for the free experimental fertility treatment that brought her into this world. Ember is forced to leave her family and everything she knows on the spot.

Ember Pierce is the first character to take the stage in the novel, and she seems like your typical rebellious teenager, but even she doesn’t realize how much more there is to her until she begins training at the teleporter facility. Unlike the rest of the wards there, Ember isn’t quick to believe everything she’s told. She is observant and inquisitive. Over the last five years teleporting has taught Ember one fundamental rule: Survival is the most important thing.

The next character to take the stage is Caden. Caden is embers pair. Each of the gifted wards at the facility has a pair. Caden has been waiting to be united with his pair a long time. He’s looking for someone to love him the way his family failed to. When you learn Caden’s history it gives you some perspective on why he stopped Embers escape; he needed her. But Caden has much more depth. He wears a mask, he sees much more than he lets on. Caden is loyal to a fault, so much so that as their relationship develops Ember realizes it will come down to Caden choosing her or the program.

The villain is Dane Richards. Well, at least he’s the front man since technically the villain is the Government. Dane Richards has no qualms about using these kids for his ends. I often got the distinct vibe that Richards’ agenda and the government’s, are not 100% the same. These kids are an ongoing experiment. And will eventually die on a mission unless Ember finds a way to shut down the project.

Thalassa is expert at stringing her readers along. Situations are created to incite questions within the reader’s mind. Dropping hints and revealing the purpose along the way. In fact there are several questions I had while reading for example: how do they control where the teleporters go? The author makes it clear in the beginning that the teleporters only have very minimal control over where they go, and we later find out that it can be overridden by whoever it is behind the scenes controlling their ability. And this question gets a partial answer but not a full explanation, you have to pay attention to catch it.

Another question was about the pairs and what precisely that meant. We do get a full explanation. I’m not going to spoil the book for you so… it’s none of your business. In the end, some things were left in the air. Also, the book ends with a cliffhanger (sad face). I wondered for most of the book… who-the-heck dresses them when they teleport, heads up you do not find out in this book.

Intimacy is probably one of the hardest things to write, and I’m only guessing based on how many cheesy, romantic scenes I’ve read over the years. Sometimes even the best book from your favorite writer can have a cheesy, horribly unrealistic romantic scene that makes you want to throw your book across the room. Well, guess what Thalassa’s got it down pat.

Our characters are 17 and 18, inexperienced sexually, at least I’m pretty sure Ember is. Things are kind of Vague about Caden. But either way my point is the author understands how interactions work in real life. Thalassa has managed to accurately capture the progression of the intimacy of the characters from nervous uncertainty, to the point where they are ready to jump in. Honestly, it was refreshing. Authors so often fail to capture this in a way that makes it realistic. Thalassa paced the romance, slowly building up to the inevitable climax of the characters getting together. They did what normal teens do they made out, exploring each other, and the relationship progressed naturally.

On a Random note, I think Caden is my new book boyfriend. For now, anyway.

The pace of the book is even. Once I buckled down and started reading, I finished the book within hours. I would’ve finished several days prior, but I had been having trouble getting motivated to read mostly because of an emotionally charged reading slump.

There was one instance where I felt the Ember’s reaction, was a little “extra,” but that was it.  The characters were realistic, personalities believable, and throughout the book, I felt the characters stayed true to who they were while growing and showing the reader who they are.

The Overall theme of the book is a Governmental abuse of power. And the overall tone is dystopian. Thalassa has created a world inside a world. The teleporter facility is a separate ecosystem. Dane Richards controls the program and every aspect of these kids’ lives other than missions, some of these kids haven’t had access to the outside world since they were 13, and for the others, once they are brought to the facility the only way they leave is in body bags.

The Vanishing Girl is an Upper YA/ New Adult book. I would recommend for ages 16 and up. The book contains scenes that are intimate as well as sexual situations which are descriptive but not erotically graphic; there are also possible triggers for teen pregnancy.

I read a few reviews of this book, which I usually don’t do when writing a review; a few were very critical. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’ve also written critical reviews but, I think sometimes people read more into things than what’s there.

One reviewer was upset that Ember was, so “easily swayed” against escaping by Caden. Did this reviewer skip the part, where Ember cased the facility and realized that escape was going to be a little more complicated than she initially thought. At no point did Ember ever give up on escaping she just decided to be smart about it.

Another reviewer issue was how Ember could dare fall in love with Caden after he continuously failed to respect her privacy, and, in the reviewer’s, opinion was a misogynist. I wondered about the reviewer’s grasp on reality. Sometimes you don’t like a person when you meet; they may do things you don’t like and act like a complete A-hole. However, it does happen in real life, that as you get to see a different side of people and get to know them your perception of that person changes. They grow on you and friendship, or romance may blossom.

I enjoyed this book, and I’m immediately starting book two The Decaying Empire now that I’ve finished this review. And that review is forthcoming.

Interested in more From Laura Thalassa?

Laura’s Books on goodreads

 

Hush Hush (Hush Hush #1) By Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush Hush (Hush Hush #1) By Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush HushThis review includes spoilers

 

I’ve been having a hard time finding books that allow me a wondrous vacation from reality. In my quest to find an enrapturing novel I headed to the Goodreads site and sorted my to-read shelf by the number of ratings after that I just picked for the most interesting cover and synopsis. Hush, Hush has been on my to-read shelf since mid-June 2012. It looked like a good bet.

 

Hush, Hush starts off extremely slow, like a snail’s pace slow, and you can tell it’s aimed at the YA crowd because its writing style is Basic English, its language is simple to simplistic. I estimate the reading to be at about 9th-grade reading level. Overall I liked the book, but it was drawn out. I understand that the layout was the prelude to the story’s inevitable climax, but it just took too many unnecessary words to get there. The book finally begins to pick up close to a 3rd of the way through, but up until then I would have had no idea what the book was about if I hadn’t read the synopsis.

 

Right away we meet the main character Nora Grey the protagonist and her Partner in crime Vee Sky. Nora and Vee are your average high school aged teenage girls.

 

Next, we meet Patch Cipriano, his role from Villain to Anti-Hero, and love interest Patch who is your average bad boy; the real deal he’s a fallen angel who wants to become human at any cost.

 

Elliot Saunders (the side-kick) and Jules A.K.A Chauncey Langeais their roles, the main Antagonist although in all fairness Chauncey became what he was because of Patch. Chauncey is just an average high school student led astray by Chauncey a Nephilim, who has been enslaved to Patch for centuries, and he wants payback.

 

Last But not Least Miss Greene A.K.A Dabria her role a minor Antagonist Dabria is an Angel and Patch’s ex-lover, and she can’t get over the fact that he lost his wings over a human. When the Powers that be find out Patch’s plan to become human, they send Dabria to talk to him and try and convince him to save a life and become a guardian angel getting his wings back instead. In the end Dabria’s jealousy is her undoing, she tries to kill Nora and loses her own wings.

 

The Plot:

Patch wants to be human more than anything his lust for a human girl caused him to fall and lose his wings. There’s a sacred book The book of Enoch which tells how a fallen angel can become human, it requires Patch to use the female descendant of his Nephilim vassal as a willing sacrifice to become human and he intends to seduce Nora into doing just that but sometimes things don’t go as planned.

Quote:

“I can’t feel you. I experience everything through a sheet of glass, and the only way I can cut through that sheet is by possessing a human body”

 

Quote:

“I want to be human. I want it than I’ve ever wanted anything

 

Nora’s life was pretty simple before she met Patch, it was normal, now suddenly Nora’s is seeing things and being stalked. Nora’s sixth sense is telling her Patch is trouble, and she knows there’s something not quite right about him, but no matter how she rationalizes she too drawn to him and can’t stay away. Ever since Patch became Nora’s biology partner, Nora’s been paranoid and suspicious.

Quote:

“After the library” I whispered “Where did you go”

“Why”

“Did you follow me” I demanded in an undertone.

“You look a Little on edge Nora.” “What Happened?”

 

Chauncey is Patch’s vassal force to swear an oath of fealty centuries ago allowing patch to take over his body two weeks every year, he’s been looking for a way to hurt Patch get back at him, but Patch is a fallen Angel his body isn’t, real torture won’t work, he can’t feel pain. When Chauncey notices Patch’s interest in Nora, he decides that killing Nora will be perfect revenge.

Quote:

“I’ve been toying with you. Dangling you by a string. Using you as a proxy, because the person I really want to harm can’t be harmed. Do you know who that person is?”

 

Quote:

“I’ve been keeping a close eye on Patch for centuries. Last summer he made his first trip to your house, though you didn’t notice. He followed you shopping a few times. Every now and then he made a special trip out of his way to find you.”

 

In the end, the book is good — once you get to the good part. It was like watching a 2 ½ hr movie, which could’ve had the same impact if the movie were only one hour. But the ending left nothing to be desired, and the climax was as it should be, satisfying.

I look forward to reading the sequel.

 

Now that the action has started, I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt; it wouldn’t be the first time I read book 1 of a series and felt kind of meh about it. When I read A Court of Thorns and Roses (by Sarah J. Maas, whose writing I love), I was disappointed, the book was good, but I found it lacking something vital. I just couldn’t put my finger on it when book two came out I added it to my To-Read shelf but on the back burner, and by some divine intervention A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) made its way to the top of my list, and I was completely enraptured and blown away. One of my favorite series of all time is Anita Blake Vampire Hunter. While I did like Guilty Pleasures (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1) I felt it lacked something. I almost didn’t read book two, but hey book two was the series salvation, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

 

So I read Hush, Hush, and then stay tuned. I plan to read the sequel, Crescendo at some point, and see whether it lives up to my “second book rule.”

Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2) By Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2) By Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo

TITLE: Crescendo (Hush, Hush #2)

AUTHOR: Becca Fitzpatrick

GENRE: Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

PUBLISHED: October 19th 2010

RATING: ★★★☆☆

Warning This Review Contains Spoilers

After I finished Hush, Hush (Book one), I admit I was curious as to where else the story could go, as it seemed pretty finished to me. However, in Crescendo Fitzpatrick manages to come through with an original and interesting plot with a twist I never would have imagined. Unlike Hush, Hush, Crescendo keeps an even pace of events throughout leaving no spaces for the reader to get bored.

The Plot: Now that Patch has his wings back, every fallen angel knows the rumors are true. There’s a way for them to become human. Someone wants to pick up where Patch left off. Rixon is Patch’s best friend, he was Patch’s co-conspirator, until he decided to give everything up for Nora and ended up getting his wings back. Now Rixon is on a lonely road trip on the highway to Hell. But Rixon has his own plans and Nora is still not safe. Nora is descended from two Nephilim lines and even though Chauncey is dead it’s not over, she still has one Nephilim ancestor left her real Father, Hank Miller Marcie’s dad.

Crescendo picks up where Hush, Hush left off with Nora and Patch in relationship bliss, but that won’t last long. Nora loves Patch, but she begins to hold his flaws against him resenting the fact that he’s not able to feel for her what she does for him. Every kiss, every caress she knows Patch doesn’t feel it, is he faking his feelings for her?

Quote:

“Just tell me what you’re thinking!” I blurted. “Spit it out! It’s bad enough that I have no idea what you’re feeling, let alone what you’re thinking!”

“When we kiss, are you faking it?” He stopped short. Another disbelieving shake of his head. “Faking it?” “When I touch you, do you feel anything? How far does your desire go? Do you feel anything close to what I feel for you?” 

“I needed him to feel the thrilling and undeniable magnetic field pulling every molecule in his body toward mine. Just like I did.”

Patch doesn’t really understand Nora, because he doesn’t understand human emotion – although he thinks he does. All he knows is he wants her, feels strongly for her. His inability to connect with Nora emotionally causes problems in their relationship.

Quote:

“I’m not telling you, because what I was doing at Marcie’s has nothing to do with us.” How could he think this didn’t have anything to do with us? Marcie was the one person who took every opportunity to attack and belittle me. Over the past eleven years, she’d teased me, spread horrible rumors about me, and humiliated me publicly. How could he think this wasn’t personal? How could he think I’d just accept this, no questions asked? Above all, couldn’t he see I was terrified that Marcie would use him to hurt me? If she suspected he was even remotely interested, she’d do everything in her power to steal him for herself. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing Patch, but it would kill me if I lost him to her.”

“Call me when you’re ready to talk rationally.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “It means you’re crazy. You’re impossible.”

Patch & Nora’s problems are compounded when Patch finds out the Archangels have it out for him. One wrong move and they’ll have Patch on the Hell Train Express. When Nora finds out she feels guilty; she loves Patch and doesn’t want to be the reason he’s sent to eternal torment in Hell. So she breaks it off.

Quote:

“This is about how I feel about you. I have to hold back. I’m walking a dangerous line. Falling in love is what got me in trouble in the first place. I can’t be with you the way I want. “

“If I give the archangels cause to think I’m even remotely in love with you, they’ll send me to hell. Forever. The news hit me like a blow to the stomach.”

“I want out,” I said quietly. I knew I wasn’t being fair—I was protecting myself. What other option did I have? I couldn’t give Patch a chance to talk me out of it. I had to do what was best for both of us.

Patch, ever the Anti-Hero you know…..the character we hate to love, hooks up with Marcie Miller, Nora’s arch-nemesis. Marcie is the character you love to hate. She’s rude, obnoxious, mean, self-centered you know a real *****. She’s had a serious grudge against Nora for years, torments Nora every chance she gets. Nora has no idea why.

Quote:

“Marcie’s expression cooled. “I’m surprised your dad doesn’t mind you’re here. Oh, wait. That’s right. He’s dead.” My initial reaction was shock. My second was indignation at her cruelty. A knot of anger swelled in my throat. “What?” she argued with a one-shoulder shrug. “He’s dead. It’s a fact. Do you want me to lie about the facts?” “What did I ever do to you?” “You were born.”

Even under the low-watt bulb, I could tell my eyes were red and glassy. I wet a paper towel and pressed it to my eyes. What was Marcie’s problem? What had I ever done to her that was cruel enough to deserve this?”

“What started the war between the two of you?” “That’s the thing. I don’t even know. It used to be over who got the last chocolate milk in the lunch crate. Then one day in junior high, Marcie marched into school and spray-painted ‘whore’ on my locker. She didn’t even try to be sneaky about it. The whole school was looking on.” “She went postal just like that? No reason?” “Yup.” No reason I was aware of, anyway. He tucked one of my curls behind my ear. “Who’s winning the war?” “Marcie, but not by much.”

But there more to Marcie than Nora knows. Marcie’s been holding on to a secret for a very long time bearing the burden all alone. And the startling revelation will cut Nora to the bone, and she will question all she’s ever known.

Quote:

“They were sleeping together. All these years they’ve been doing it. Which means my dad could be your dad. And you could be my— sister.” Marcie’s words dropped like a blade between us.”

Nora tries to get back at Patch, and make him jealous. Make him feel the way she feels when she sees him with Marcie; she starts hanging out with Scott Parnell an old childhood friend who has recently moved back to town. Scott is a troubled kid and, unknown to Nora is a First Generation Nephilim – and he’s running from something. Hanging with Scott puts Nora in Danger several times but she refuses to heed Patch’s warnings.

Quote:

“Patch dropped his gaze to the ground and pinched the bridge of his nose. I could tell he was summoning patience from deep within. “Scott’s Nephilim. A first-generation purebred. Just like Chauncey was.” I blinked. It was true, then. “Thanks for the info, but I already suspected.” He made a disgusted gesture. “Quit with the bravery act. He’s Nephilim.” “Every Nephil isn’t Chauncey Langeais,” I said testily. “Every Nephil isn’t evil.”

“I slid my hands up Scott’s chest and laced them behind his neck. He took the cue and pulled me in tighter, tracing his hands down the contour of my spine. So this was what it felt like to kiss someone else. While Patch was slow and practiced and took his time, Scott was playfully eager and a little sloppy. It was completely different and new … and not altogether bad. “My room,” Scott whispered in my ear, lacing his fingers between mine and pulling me toward the hall. I flicked my gaze to where I’d last seen Patch. Our eyes met. His hand was stiff, cupped at the back of his neck, as if he’d been lost in deep thought and had frozen at the sight of me kissing Scott. This is what it feels like, I thought at him.”

In the end Scott isn’t the real threat, he’s a scared kid in way over his head.

Quote:

“One night on my way home from work, I was jumped from behind, dragged into a warehouse, and tied to a folding table. It was too dark to see the guy, but I figured the manager had sent him. I told him I’d pay him whatever he wanted if he’d let me go, but he laughed and said he wasn’t after my money—in fact, he’d already settled my debts. Before I could figure out if it was his idea of a joke, he said he was the Black Hand, and the last thing he needed was more money. “He had a Zippo, and he held the flame against the ring on his left hand, heating it. I was sweating bullets. I told him I’d do whatever he wanted—just get me off the table. He ripped open my shirt and ground the ring into my chest. My skin was on fire, and I was yelling at the top of my lungs. He snapped my finger, broke the bone, and told me if I didn’t shut up, he’d move down the line until he broke all ten. He told me he’d given me his mark.” Scott’s voice had dropped to a rasp. “I wet my pants. Right there on the table. He scared the hell out of me. I’ll do whatever it takes to never see him again. That’s why we moved back to Coldwater. I’d stopped going to school and was hiding out at the gym all day, bulking up in case he came looking for me. If he found me, this time I was going to be ready.” Cutting off there, he wiped his nose with the back of his hand.”

Acting the innocent, dutiful best friend to Patch and boyfriend to Nora’s best friend Vie, Rixon is the real threat; he has been patiently biding his time. He’s got almost everyone fooled. He’s been leaving Nora clues about her father’s murder. Pointing all the evidence toward Patch driving them further apart.

Quote:

“I resent that look,” Vee said. “Rixon happens to be a really decent guy.”

She stopped when I pulled out the paper. Scrawled in black Sharpie was a note: THIS RING BELONGS TO THE BLACK HAND. HE KILLED YOUR DAD.”

“Patch told you he won the Jeep. Rixon has a different story”

“Have you ever heard of the Black Hand?” Rixon flinched. He studied me in silence a moment before his face blazed with amusement. “Is this a joke? I haven’t heard that name in a long time. I thought Patch didn’t like to be called it. Did he tell you about it, then?”

“I know you’re the Black Hand.” I shut my eyes briefly, feeling my whole body sway under a wave of nausea. He looked over his shoulder. “Who told you that?” “Then it’s true?” I realized my hands were balled into fists at my sides, shaking violently. “You’re the Black Hand.” I watched his face, praying he’d somehow refute it.”

When Nora finally realizes what’s going on with a little help from the Angel’s and her father. It’s nearly too late. Rixon plans to pick up where Patch left off he’ll sacrifice her and become human. Rixon had been looking for Nora along time it seems just Nora’s bad luck to be the female descendant of two Nephilim Vassals.

Quote:

“An angel of death helped me come here to see you. She’s holding time still for us, Nora. She’s helping me speak to your mind. There’s something important I need to tell you, but I don’t have much time”

“Touch Rixon’s scars. The truth is there.”

“You killed him,” I whispered. “It was you. You were wearing Patch’s hat.” The shock of the moment was quickly being eaten up by abhorrence and ice-cold fear. “You killed my dad.” Any trace of kindness or sympathy vanished from Rixon’s eyes. “Well, this is awkward.”

“He isn’t the one on the fast track to hell. We were in this together, and now he’s gone and gotten himself his wings back.” His eyes raked over me in disgust. “Because of you.” I shook my head, not buying it. “You killed my dad before you even knew who I was.” He laughed, but it lacked humor. “I knew you were out there somewhere, and I was looking for you.” “Why?”

“Your dad is a Nephil named Barnabas,” Rixon said. “More recently, he goes by Hank Millar.”

“Hank Millar—was Nephilim. And he was my father.”

Patch manages to figure out Rixon’s plan in the nick of time, and once again saves Nora’s life. He also comes to terms with his feelings for Nora and decides being with her is what’s most important to him. But a war is brewing between Fallen Angels and the Nephilim and Nora will be caught in the middle. After secrets are revealed and revelations made its clear, Nora’s not out the woods yet.

Quote:

“The Nephilim race is already seeking revenge on angels. Maybe this is only the beginning.”

“Mr. Millar,” I whispered. I couldn’t think of anything else to call him. Hank seemed too informal; Dad seemed revoltingly intimate. “Let me introduce myself properly,” he said. “I’m the Black Hand. I knew your father Harrison well. I’m glad he’s not here now to see you debasing yourself with one of the devil’s brood.” He wagged his head. “You’re not the girl I thought you’d grow up to be, Nora. Fraternizing with the enemy, making a mockery of your heritage. I believe you even blew up one of my Nephilim safe houses last night. But no matter. I can forgive that.” He paused with significance. “Tell me, Nora. Was it you who killed my dear friend Chauncey Langeais?”

When I reviewed book one here, I promised to let you know if the series would hold up to my “second book rule” and I say 50/50. Crescendo’s story is a significant improvement from Hush, Hush with an evenly paced well-developed storyline, plot and conclusion, and it’s an excellent book for its target audience, YA readers. I would not recommend this book for adult readers.