by Jennifer Ashley, paranormal (2007)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52687-8
I don't believe I have read anything by Jennifer Ashley that isn't a comedy, so I am intrigued by The Calling, the first book in the multi-authored series Immortals which is also her brainchild. A part of me is worried that this is going to be a silly pornographic shagfest that has very little plot other than the heroine's eggs saving the world, but fortunately The Calling proves to be an entertaining and often gripping urban fantasy tale that combines sex and action pretty well.
The Immortals in question are demigods created by the various aspects of the Egyptian goddess Isis to save humans from those demons that just won't stop trying to cause trouble. The way the whole system is supposed to work is that people with the knowledge will perform the necessary rites to summon one of the five Immortals from their personal Valhalla called Ravenscroft. However, as time goes by, people forget about the rituals and the Immortals begin to neglect their duties, mingling with humans to party and all.
This story begins when Adrian, one of the Immortals, begins tracking down a trail that would leave him to his brother Tain, another Immortal. He believes that Tain has been captured by the demon Nimue and he always feel guilty about not being able to save Tain in time from being captured. His trail leads him to confront a demon that our witch heroine Amber Silverthorn has unwittingly summoned. Amber's sister Susan was murdered, most likely by a demon, due to a ritual gone wrong and Amber is trying to make sense of things. She and Adrian soon realize that they may be looking for the same bad guys and begin working together. Of course, as they go around smashing up vampires and what-not, they fall in love.
There are what seems like plot holes here, such as, for example, Adrian so frantically looking for Tain yet at the same time he has not seen his other three brothers in a very long time. Is Tain the only one he is close to? But I'll just be nice and assume that all questions will be answered within the next three books in the series.
Amber is not a kick-ass heroine, but her strength is in her witchcraft rather than martial arts and she manages to hold her own pretty well in this instance, although a part of me wonders why Adrian wants her to tag along with him to a vampire club when he won't be needing her help. But if she doesn't tag along and nearly get into trouble were not Adrian's friend Valerian being nearby, I suppose the reader won't get to see what a vampire club is like. It's like every other vampire club in every other story with vampire clubs, in case you're wondering, heh. Amber is a pretty smart heroine who can hold her own with the hero, which is good.
Adrian is a pretty cool hero too. I like how his snake tattoo can transform itself into a snake or a sword depending on the situation. He is refreshingly not hung up on self-pity; instead he channels his frustrations into persistent attempts to locate Tain and make things right in the world. He's a capable guy who can get things done. He and Amber have a pretty decent thing going on between them. They pretty much fall into lust with each other from the get go, but they get along and work together very well so Amber and Adrian have a pretty good partnership going in and out of the bedroom. Therefore, when they decide that they're in love, I can believe them.
The story is pretty well-paced; I am unable to put this book down until I've finished reading it in one sitting. A part of me wishes that the climax is a little bit more exciting, but on the whole I'm fine with how the story turned out. The secondary characters are interesting, the canon and the world-building are pretty solid and intriguing, and the main characters can really kick some ass where it counts. All in all, this is a pretty solid read, especially from an author who is more well known for her historical romantic comedies. I suppose it makes me the odd duck of some sort to like this one more than her usual comedic fare.
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