Series: Lords of Deliverance, Book 3
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Length: 464 Pages
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Forever publisher Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
Favorite of the Series
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
—Revelations 6:8 (KJV)
So. Five thousand years of celibacy, convinced that his virginity was all that stood between life as he knew it and the apocalypse. Thinking one good shag - hell, even a fairly average shag - would turn him into a psychopathic killer on a global scale, Death incarnate, and kick start the end the world. Turns out, he was wrong. Sort of a blessing and a curse, that.
Blessing, because hey, bring on the girls! He's got some serious time to make up for. Curse, because the truth came in the form of traitorous...and, okay, sexy...Aegis Guardian Regan Matthews. The female wormed her way into his home, then forced herself into his bed. She drugged him, then took him. Against his will.
Him! Thanatos! The fourth bloody Horseman of the bloody apocalypse and a nightmare feared by all with a soul and a good many things without!
To add enraging insult to heinous injury, his siblings Ares and Limos, also known as War and Famine, took him down and took him down hard. For eight and a half months they've kept him immobile, feeling every moment of the curse that plagues him, aware but unable to fulfill his obligations. He's got daytime television, which is torture enough on it own. Occasionally someone reads to him. And he's got a lot of time to think.
A lot of time to rage, actually. A lot of time to plan down to merciless detail exactly what he's going to do to Regan when he's free. Kill her, of course, use her body as she did his, definitely. Though...uh...not in that order, obviously. Maybe then he can banish the woman from his head and get back to stopping Pestilence, the Horsemen who used to be his beloved brother Reseph, end the world as they knew it. But first...freedom.
Nearly nine months pregnant with Thanatos' child, Regan has no doubt that she will die at the hand of Death. She will do everything in her power, though, to make sure the child is safe. Regret and shame over what she did to Thanatos still make thoughts of him dangerous ground, but she's comforted by the knowledge that he's being kept out of commission until the child is born.
Imagine her surprise and terror, then, when he shows up in the middle of one of the most secretly guarded locations in the world, Aegis headquarters. Awake. Aware. And seriously, mightily, unimaginably pissed off.
Telling the male you betrayed that he's going to be a father and it is his child, not his virginity that is his agimortus isn't exactly a conversation she's in a hurry to have. Especially as neither Regan nor anyone else seems to know if what she did to Thanatos...and the child she carries because of it, will be the thing that saves the world...or guarantees its destruction.
Hands down, this third installment of the Lords of Deliverance series is by far my favorite of the series to date. In fact, though I'm loathe to admit it, I didn't completely enjoy the first two books. Certainly not like I did every installment of Ione's Demonica series. I didn't dislike them by any means, but they didn't quite click for me in the same way as Ione's other books have. That is so totally not the case here. I loved this book.
I loved Thanatos and Regan. I loved their relationship. I loved their story. I even loved what went on around the arc of their romance and thought both the relationship conflicts and the external conflicts blended together nicely to form a cohesive, complex, action-packed and emotion-packed read.
The world of this series (the same as Demonica but with a wider scope) has never been an easy place to live, nor a particularly kind one. Thanks to Pestilence, it's now in the process of completely disintegrating, and the damage he's caused is really starting to make everything fall apart at the seams. It's hard to wedge a romance into that sort of world-ending horror and keep it believable, but Ione did a hell of a balancing act in this book, and the devastation that is Pestilence didn't overwhelm me as a reader as it has in the previous stories.
I also thought Thanatos and Regan were simply better conceived and developed main characters than others in the series, with more significant story impact. I not only got a true sense of both of them as individuals, but I liked them both - very much, actually. I rooted for them more than I have others in this series. They were great characters and I enjoyed them both on their own merits.
As soon as they were together, this book shot into overdrive and never let up. The chemistry between them was awesome. Sexy, hot, and deliciously adult chemistry. Yum. And it wasn't just sexual, either, though by all means - major plus there. The banter between the two of them, though, as they matched wits and jockeyed with one another, trading barbs here and there, was phenomenal. Regan definitely had a dry, sardonic wit I appreciated immensely, and for all that Than could be a true nightmare, he was an intriguing mix of snarky bad boy and old, old, old school gentleman that held mighty appeal for me, and the few moments of uncertainty and sensitivity we see kept him very sympathetic.
Their relationship was fraught with several serious, world-threatening issues, and both characters had quite a wealth of personal foibles and peccadilloes they brought to the table, and still the evolution of the relationship between them infused a lot of fun into the story. Their romance felt wonderfully complete and satisfying. I loved everything about them.
Finally, too, we see some of the development among the factions fighting Pestilence that I had been hoping to see, with truths being revealed, agendas being disclosed, and betrayals being discovered. There is always a lot going on in an Ione book, it's never just about the main characters, but I have to admit, this is the first time in this series that all those story elements seemed to genuinely compliment instead of obfuscate the threads of romance. It was all very well done.
There was only one point in this whole book that bothered me. I was very disappointed in how Regan's actions eight months ago were referred to and dealt with, especially in the beginning of this book. I don't care how pretty a coat of paint you slap on it, or how Than chooses to deal with her after the fact, Regan raped Thanatos in the previous book. Raped him.
Not only was the attack not called rape, but the sexual assault seemed an ancillary concern compared to the eight and a half months Thanatos was kept incapacitated. I know Regan was drugged, too, but that doesn't mitigate the fact that Thanatos was forced to have sex against his will. It may lessen Regan's culpability in the rape (that's still a big maybe to me, given her intent), but it doesn't alter the fact that he was raped. I wish the whole matter had been better addressed and handled differently.
Given everything else that goes on in the book, though, my issues with that - which, admittedly, are entirely personal and subjective - weren't so unsettling that I wasn't able to set it aside and focus on the rest of the tale. And not once did it diminish my overall appreciation for this read as my favorite of the series. This was a fun, fantastic, furiously paced adventure all the way through and I thought it was great.
The Lords of Deliverance Series: