Touch Of Darkness
by CT Adams and Cathy Clamp, fantasy (2008)
Tor Romance, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-7653-5962-9

First off, if you are new to the series, please take a while to read the review of the first book in the series, Touch Of Evil, to get a quick refresher course. This review, by the way, will contain a few details that could very well spoil the story for you, so you know what to do if you want to read this book "pure", as some folks out there would say.

Ending a series with a wedding is always a good idea, I must say, and so the series The Thrall ends with a book that sees our heroine Kate Reilly planning a Las Vegas wedding with her werewolf boyfriend Tom. Unfortunately, it begins to snow very heavily at that time of the year in Colorado. First, her apartment building collapses. No, really, that's what it does. Then Kate makes it safely to Las Vegas, only to realize that Tom is stranded back in Colorado for a few days. In Las Vegas, Kate finds herself dealing with yet more psychotic females and plenty of Thrall drama before she and Tom can finally get down to business.

I wish the back blurb hasn't mentioned that Kate's ex-boyfriend is back because he shows up pretty late in the story for someone whose name is on the back cover and therefore, I suspect that his appearance is better off kept as a surprise twist for readers. Oh well. At least that is what I would do if I write the back blurb. As for the story, this one has plenty of romantic moments between Kate and Tom interspersed by action scenes. The romantic aspect of the story is pretty sweet, although a part of me wishes that Tom is a little bit more useful here. Not that I am of the "men must save the day" school of thought, mind you, it's just that I feel so sorry for Kate.

You see, Kate has to deal with so many things here from psychotic homicidal bitches from hell to her ex-boyfriend coming back from the dead to become the mother of all bad guys. Kate doesn't make it easy on herself, though - where she can let her enemies die, she'd decide that she can't let them suffer so she will make an effort to save them... only to, of course, confront them another day. If I were her and my fiancé's psychotic ex-girlfriend tried to kill me, I'd happily let that psychotic woman feel the brutal hospitality of the detention center. Heck, I'd supply the electrical prods if that will make the party more merry. But Kate is more noble than me, which I suppose is why she gets to be the heroine of the story. I really roll up my eyes when she even goes on a guilt trip about how she has killed so many people.

And poor Kate, it's not as if her efforts are appreciated. Her brother Joe at the start of the story refuses to talk to her because everything is her fault, it seems. His wife happily tells Kate that Joe blames Kate for everything with a smile on her face. I'm really puzzled when the authors try to pass off that particular scene as one of bonding between two close friends, because in my world, that scene is one of needless cruelty. You don't kick someone when she's down, no? Even the rest of the country view Kate as the bad guy. In what I feel is a big mistake, by keeping such things "off-stage", I'm merely told that the thralls are now viewed as the good guys because they help coma patients and junkies recover. At any rate, this means that the killer of the good guys - say hello, Kate - is now the bad guy. Poor Kate. And still she insists on helping these useless ungrateful creatures. I don't know whether to admire or pity her.

Still, the fact that I feel so sorry for Kate aside, I find this story to be very readable. The authors grab me by the throat from the first page and I can't put down this story until I've finished reading every page.

However, the biggest reason why I feel let down by this story is the way the series ends. That's it? No big invasion? No V-style clashes? All I get here is just an admittedly gripping minor showdown that is resolved by Kate testing out a new power and actually winning in an "Oops! How did she do that again?" manner. The entire parasitic vampire creature population is wiped out just like that! What a bunch of wimps. I close the book thinking, "Is that it? That's all?"

I love the concept of the story and despite my frustrations with the authors' reliance on one-dimensional insane villains to create conflict, I always thought that the series have great potential to be fun. Now, the party is over before it has even begun and I am left standing here feeling like the most miserable fat girl in the prom.

Rating: 71

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