The Dirk & Steele gang are back! For those who like paranormal romance but are finding the genre to be very heavy on the romance (ie - sex) and light on plot, rejoice! Marjorie M. Liu has got you covered! I first discovered her while reading the Crimson City series, a good set of books by different authors, all about Crimson City - a place full of vampires, werewolves, demons and more. Liu's contribution, "A Taste of Crimson", was the best book by far, and I was determined to see if it was a one-time fluke or if she was really that good.
She's really that good!
"Eye of Heaven" is the 4th book in the Dirk & Steele series. D&S is a detective agency started by a couple who are pychics. Over the years, they have found others with "special" powers and recruited them, helping rescue those in need, solve crimes, etc. They do their best to fly under the radar, preferring that the rest of the world not know that things such as telekinetics, shape-shifters, clairvoyants, healers, and more really do exist. Just makes things easier that way.
Blue Perrineau is one of the agents at D&S. His specialty is electrokinesis - he can control anything with an electric current with his mind. Especially handy for stopping cars driven by bad guys, diffusing bombs, and - oh yeah - stopping the hearts of those around him. No, that's not a bad romance pun; he can literally stop a human heart, something that has happened before when he lost control of his "gift" and killed several people. Something that he's always aware of and determined will not happen again.
Blue is injured during a mission and receives a call from his mother while he's recuperating. His father has died and he needs to come home. Keep in mind, Blue has hated his father his whole life, so he's not too keen on the idea of returning to the family fold. Love for his mother, though, gets him on the plane. Much to his surprise, the old man is not dead - but he is dying and blackmails Blue into locating Blue's half-brother - a sibling he knew nothing about. Blue's father has complete dossiers on Blue and his friends at D&S, including information about their "gifts", giving Blue no choice but to cooperate. That information cannot be made public, and morever, cannot get into the wrong hands.
Enter Las Vegas and the circus! Blue locates his brother in a local circus performing Houdini-type acts. He also encounters Iris McGillis and immediately recognizes her for what she really is - a shape-shifter. Iris has a "big cat" act, one that amazes the audience, but as usual, disgusts the typcial animal-rights activist groups who think her cats should be "free". If they only knew how loved and pampered those cats really were! Someone is trying to kill Iris, it would seem, and Blue steps in to protect her. Of course the sparks fly, and each tries to ignore their growing affection for the other, all in hopes of protecting their hearts. Iris, too, has had a bad experience when she "lost control" - she severely injured a boy she was making out with when she accidently shifted into her leopard form.
The plot itself is a bit too complicated to explain here. It's full of action and suspense, which is great! The best part, though, is that the romance has time to build - the characters don't even remotely hook up until well past the half-way point of the book! As a friend of mine recently pointed out, a lot of entries in the paranormal romance genre lately have been sacrificing plot for sex; it's so refreshing to watch two characters not get horizontal! This might not appeal to those who would prefer more "romance" in their books, but I think it's a good choice by Liu. All of the D&S books are like this, heavy on plot and - dare I say it? - character development. That means, folks, that by the time the couple does actually admit to caring about each other and possibly getting horizontal, you care too! Makes everything much better, in my humble opinion.
Treat yourself to the Dirk & Steele series - next installment is due out summer of 2007!