Lissa is back trying to stop the evil vampires and their terrorist minions doing nefarious things for reasons (it would be nice if they actually explained a little of why they’re doing this beyond EVIL AND EVIL SPACE ELVES)
She has her bag of tricks and super powers to stop them – but she has to do that with her leash constantly being pulled by the men in her life. Her fathers, her husbands, they all have plans for her, they all have an agenda and they all have uses for her. Whether she wants it or not
Ok, I’m going to write a lot about the toxic trainwreck that is Lissa’s relationships in this book so I’m going to cover everything else briefly before diving into that cess pool
The writing/plot in general –lazy lazy lazy. We have aliens dropping in for no other reason than to be ridiculously powerful and scatter deux ex plot-solvers in their wake. We have alien worlds that are still less alien than Ohio – seriously, Lissa would have more culture shock travelling to China than she would have going to these worlds. We have a species of proto-vampires which in any other book may have been an interesting way to develop an actual culture and a way for vampires to exist as an independent species – but no, this is a useful slave species who are also useful food. This is about it.
Which applies, pretty much, to Lissa’s powers of well. Super misting that lets her kill everyone. The actual power to smell evil to render any kind of tracking, investigation or questioning or any actual work completely moot. Every encounter is just resolved by throwing super powers at it.
We have the same minimal diversity – another world with almost no female supernaturals because REASONS, gay characters who lurk in the background and POC largely being absent (but we have a sinister Middle-Eastern terrorist)
Now the cess pool. This book continues on the series’ habit of having one of the worst relationships I’ve encountered. And, ye gods, that is saying something considering what I have read
Lissa’s history of abuse actually exacerbates everything because all of her reaction to the terrible way everyone – and especially Gavin – inflicts on her is all blames on her past and being such a delicate fragile female, bless her little dainty heart. Him screaming and breaking things in a raging snit because she dares to not obey him causes her to collapse in terror – and it’s because she’s fragile, not because he’s abusive. And everyone’s supposed to accept that his behaviour isn’t abusive because he won’t hit her – that’s the toxic message of this book; if he doesn’t hit her, it’s not abuse. He can scream and yell. He can swear and rage for hours. He can refuse to listen to her and berate her. He can be a constant reminder of the fact he once imprisoned and threatened to have her killed. But it’s not “abuse” if it’s not violent… apparently (and the constant underlying threat of violence doesn’t count?).
And all of this is doubly clear by how AWARE Lissa is of his disapproval, of his emotions – it’s the hyper-aware reaction of an abuse victim constantly worried about his reaction. She’s constantly worried about how Gavin will react – even when defying him and doing her own thing anyway it’s with full acknowledgement of the fact that Gavin will disapprove and there will be consequences.
This doesn’t just apply to Gavin – just about every relationship she has with the men in this book (and they are ALL men. There are two teeny tiny female roles that barely appear otherwise it’s all men men men) is toxic. In fact, except for one FBI agent and some tiny side characters, they all slot into 3 categories: