Friday, July 20, 2007

"Claimed by Shadow" by Karen Chance

Cassie Palmer, clairvoyant and possible Pythia, is back. Yes, another series. Good news is that this book could probably stand on its own without reading the first; it'd been so long since I read "Touch the Dark" that I felt like I was new to Cassie and her world. The only thing that might help that situation were a few more "reminders" from the author about events from the first book.

Cassandra Palmer is a clairvoyant and was raised primarily by vampires. She knows that they're dangerous and that they can't be trusted. That doesn't stop her from being attracted to them though, especially a very old, very powerful vamp named Mircea. Having had a crush on him in her youth, it's developed into full-blown lust now that she's an adult, and it would seem that the feelings are mutual. However, in this installment, Cassie finds out that her feelings might not be her own. Mircea had a powerful sorcerer place a geis on her when she was young, a spell that basically discourages would-be suitors other than one approved by Mircea. In the first book, that suitor was her roommate, the vampire Tomas. Or, of course, Mircea himself. In this installment, the geis has really powered up and basically anyone other than these two vampires causes Cassie extreme stress when she gets, uh, close to them, shall we say. As in extreme pain, blinding headaches, etc. The best sort of chastity belt that money can buy, at least for the supernatural set.

Why would Mircea place such a spell on Cassie? She believes it was to protect his "investment", her possible role in adulthood as Pythia, a powerful being who controls the timeline of events and ensures its protection. The Pythia must go after those that would shift in time and alter chains of events by introducing themselves, murdering someone, fathering/mothering someone, preventing the conception of someone, etc. Think of the Prime Directive of Star Trek legend and you sort of get the picture. Anyway, the Pythia comes into her full power once it's been passed to her from the previous Pythia and she has had sex for the first time. Yep, you got it - Cassie is still a virgin. I know! What a shock to read a series that has a virgin for the heroine, especially in the fantasy/paranormal romance vein!

When this book opens, Cassie has been passed the power, but has not yet committed the necessary act to totally claim it. Her main rival, Myra, has gone back in time to try to prevent the power from going to Cassie, which obviously can't happen, since Myra is not only evil but nuttier than a fruitcake. In what seems at first a most unlikely partnership, the mage Pritkin offers to help Cassie in her quest to thwart Myra. Unlikely since Pritkin was trying to kill Cassie in the first book; she knows she probably can't trust him. But she does need help, more than her ghost companion Billy can provide, more than her few vampire friends can risk.

This book is chock-full of action, which was a bit of a let-down. Not that the action is bad, just that, as you all should know by now, I like to get to know my characters. Cassie is pretty much just a catalyst for some of the other characters, really; readers will learn much more about Pritkin in this book, which I liked. I enjoy the interaction between Mircea and Cassie, which I don't really think is all tied in to the geis, something that may surprise our heroine down the road. I'm anxious to see what happens to Cassie in the next book, but I do hope that Ms. Chance provides those reminders in the third installment, otherwise I'm going to have to do some re-reading! Again, I highly recommend picking up "Touch the Dark", the work that introduces you to Cassie and her world; both titles are a nice change of pace from the glut of paranormal romance available on the shelves these days.

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