Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade (April 3, 2007)
Publisher: Berkley Trade (April 3, 2007)
In the shades of night, when the evil are free to seduce the weak and indulge their desires, there are still those who will fight to the death for the innocent.
They are called The Hunters.
They are at the heart of a sensuous and strange new world...
Two men. Two women. Paranormal warriors and eternal lovers who keep the undead in line by destroying those who have gone rogue. They serve as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. They are as merciless as their prey.
And they are its soul.
But in this strange enclave of midnight retribution, some discover a hunger they'd never imagined, a love that crosses unnatural boundaries, and a blood reckoning with a damnable past that could save the Hunters or destroy them.
"Soul of a Hunter"
This story is one I've been waiting for with the utmost impatience - the story of Leandra and Mike. It's like, number 97 in the whole Hunters series, but it was well worth the wait. While it is a stand alone, I strongly suggest reading the previous stories so you can get a feel for these characters' pasts, and the history of the Hunters. (For a complete list, visit Shi's site here).
Leandra is now a Hunter, has been for awhile. Once a powerful witch who was raised by the Scythe, she originally believed the Hunters were out to destroy the innocent, she committed many vengeful acts against them, one of them was to shoot and almost kill shapeshifter Michael Prescott. The Hunters hated her for what she did, wanted her dead, but her life was spared when she saved one of their own. Now she walks the earth alone, one of them, but yet still apart. Solitary.
Out of all the Hunters, Mike is the one who has reason to hate her the most. He almost died by her hand. But instead when he looks at the sad, proud Leandra, he knows she is his mate, and wants to be with her more than anything. He senses the good in her heart, as well as her self-hatred, and knows he has a battle on his hands. His proud Hunter won't give in easily, but then neither will he.
If I have any complaint about this story, which I've reeeeally been looking forward to, is the excessiveness of Leandrea's guilt. Yes, she knows she was wrong, and yes, the Hunters are protectors of the innocent, not horrible monsters who pray on those who are weaker - so yes, she was wrong. We're clear on that. But it wasn't her fault that she was brainwashed as a child. She didn't know any better at the time, yet when she figured it out, she accepted the truth and even tried to make amends by using her powers to destroy the true evil. But she's still feeling guilty, unworthy. I could understand this if her story took place a few months after she shot Mike, but it's been five years! So I was a tad ticked off at Leandra for wallowing, but what can I say: she is a kiss-ass heroine with a lot of pride, so I couldn't help but to love her anyway.
Other than that sticky point, I truly loved their story. Mike tried to give her time, and it was easier because she had left, went to roam the world, until she was called back for training. But now that Leandra was in his life again, he wouldn't wait any longer. She wasn't going to avoid him this time. Not anymore. She belonged with him. He knew it, and now she was going to know it. (Oh my, Mike can convince me of anything, at anytime).
And as we all know, evil never dies, so as Hunters, they are surrounded by those who wish to hurt and destroy. This time evil comes in the form of a beautiful woman-child who revels in the ugliness of her evil and covets even more of its twisted power. This monster must be stopped before any of them end up dead, but it may be too late....
"Heart of a Hunter"
Malachi. A vampire. A Hunter who has faced the world, alone, for centuries. Yet for all that time, he's had a lover, a woman who comes to him in his dreams and blows his mind, but he cannot see her face or know her name. In fact, he doesn't know if she even exists, but he knows he wants her with his entire being. No one else makes him feel this way.
Except for that lovely witch, Kelsey, whom he's wanted since the first moment he saw her, ten years ago. Most of the time she ignores him, denies the heat that burns blazing hot between them, but the Council has summoned him, and it's Kelsey's duty to bring him back, and makes the trip to Alaska. Malachi is tired, and wants no part of that life anymore, especially while he's still grieving from the loss of a dear friend. What he wants, for once, is to get lost in mindless passion with Kelsey, and this time he goes after what he wants, what they both want. Kelsey temporarily becomes the lover of his dreams, and their joining is magnificent, all-consuming.
Malachi is rocked by the experience with her. It prompts him to vanish, leaving Kelsey feeling confused and hurt. But instead of moping around waiting around for him to come to his senses, Kelsey returns to England, and to a shocking revelation: an innocent woman is about to be executed by orders from the Council, and Kelsey must stop it from happening or live with the knowledge of blood on her hands. The only way she can stop it is with Malachi's help; only he has that kind of power. So once again she seeks him out, determined to make him listen. But her plea is met with vehement denial, and time is quickly running out for the innocent prisoner. Kelsey must find someone else willing to listen, and help her betray the Council...
Immediately upon hearing Kelsey's request, Malachi is filled with such rage he can't even see straight. How could Kelsey ask him to save the person who had killed his beloved friend? It didn't make any sense. The only way to find out what the fierce healer could possibly be thinking it to track her back to England, hopefully in time to prevent the fierce, maddening woman from getting herself killed for what is considered an act of treason by the Council. But honor and duty could end up being her downfall. Will Kelsey's efforts to defend an innocent woman cause Malachi to lose the precious gift he never even knew he had all along?
Leandra's story only came second to this one: that of Malachi's HEA, and I have been amply rewarded for my patience. Centuries old, loneliness and time have caused Malachi to become bitter and tired. Rules cannot control him. Malachi is a power unto himself, and his aching soul called out from the moment he appeared on the page. I felt his pain, his loneliness, and knew it would take a special woman, one who was fearless yet also kind, to soothe his empty heart. The thought of Malachi spending the rest of his days alone was heartbreaking. Shiloh created in Kelsey a heroine that is neither weak or hard, but rather a fascinating combination of healer, warrior and pacifist. She was strong in her beliefs, not backing down from death, and fiercely loyal to the Hunters. Her union with Malachi seemed like more of a natural progression rather than that of instant soulmates who resisted being together. And it worked perfectly. Once again I was lost in the world of the Hunters, and I am happy to say there are several stories I haven't even read yet - and thankfully I have them all in my TBR pile. It's a beautiful thing.