Series: The World of the Lupi, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 320 Pages, 4941 Locations
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
Strong Urban Fantasy Series Opener
Homicide detective and touch sensitive Lily Yu knows she's stepped into a potential firestorm when she's made lead detective on the murder investigation of a human killed by a Lupi. Species relations are slowly starting to improve, but tensions between humans and other magical creatures are still high and there is a long history of persecution and death. This murder has the potential to set progress back to the burning times. If it's not solved quickly, it will definitely threaten the passage of the Species Citizenship Bill, a bill that not only would classify Lupi and others as nonhuman, but would grant them full citizenship rights as nonhuman. The Nokolai clan supports the bill, embraces the changes inherent in its passing, but others are less happy and long to exterminate the Lupi from the planet. Solving the murder of Carlos Fuentes may be the only way to keep both sides from exploding.
Rule Turner, Lu Nuncio and heir apparent to the Nokolai clan is being framed for the murder, of that much Lily is certain, but knowing it and proving it are two very different things, and when a second body turns up and Lily touches the body to feel the magic of the scene, she realizes that a simple murder case has just gotten immensely more complicated and dangerous. The second victim appears to have been killed by a Lupi, like Fuentes, but underneath the "feel" of werewolf magic is the slick, putrid sense of a sorcery so malignant that it can only mean an Old One is meddling in conspiracy, murder, and politics. And in that case, no one is safe.
Eileen Wilks kicks off this solid urban fantasy series with a unique blend of police procedure, werewolf culture, and Asian flavor, throws in a bit of magic, mystery, and romance, and ends up with an original story full of complex, likable characters, and a layered plot with intriguing twists and turns.
Unlike so many urban fantasy heroines lately, Lily is a short, slight woman of Asian descent, relatively new to homicide and aware of the struggles inherent in working with the boys club of the police department. She's not a leather-wearing, shotgun-toting, inked and scarred badass heroine with all the answers. She solves murders the old fashioned way - connecting the dots of evidence and putting in the legwork. A tragic event in her past has molded her into the cop she is today, and family and cultural influence has an impact on the woman she has grown to be. She is a breath of fresh air in the genre, with realistic reactions to difficult and surprising situations. Imperfect, sure, with a stubborn streak a mile wide, an independent streak an inch wider, and an absolute lack of personal life because she eats, sleeps, and breathes the job. She's got trust issues, and she's not exactly in touch with her emotions. For all that, she's a dedicated, compassionate woman who loves gardening, her grandmother, and her cat. She fights for justice, but would die for the people she cares about. She's normal...with a side order of special.
And then there's Rule.
Rule Turner is the playboy Lupi prince, Lu Nuncio of his clan and quintessential PR face for his people. He's the image that women swoon for and men want to emulate. Rule, though, is more than an image, more than a randy playboy. He is governed by instincts, culture, and a noble - if wild - sense of right and wrong. He sees Lily Yu, touches her hand, and knows she is his Chosen. To be so gifted changes his life forever. The cultural and nearly religious significance of his kind and their history is doled out in tasty little bites of story goodness, weighty and juicy, and threaded into the plot seamlessly.
There is a romantic thread through the book, though its certainly not the focal point, but it's enough to satisfy readers of paranormal romance. Tempting Danger isn't a romance novel, however. It's truly an urban fantasy, with a powerful plot full of danger that has significance on their world stage.
The plot is well layered, developing steadily as the characters are introduced and the world defined. The narrative is balanced with satisfying description and exposition, and the police procedural aspects are handled well. There were a few times the investigation felt a little slow to progress, and the pacing dragged a little in places, but overall it was a strong effort. More of a concern for me were the few times when there were abrupt jumps in the story, events beginning, then suddenly they're over and described after the fact. Most notably the final conflict. It's not a particular favorite style of mine, and it tends to disconnect my emotions and upset the story flow.
There were so many good points, though, with strong characters that I grew to be very fond of through the story. I was very enamored with the other aspects, as well, especially the slow world building and information sharing as the book progressed. I loved the evolution of the relationship between Lily and Rule, which was both realistic and sweet. This book is full of characters that I cared about, and I'm very pleased that I'll be able to follow along with their lives and stories awhile.