My rating: 3.5 stars: Liked it - recommend (B+)
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
I received a review copy via NetGalley.
Jace is a were-hunter employed by the Execution Underground in their Rochester, NY region. The EU is a group of genetically enhanced men that function as supernatural experts and police. The Rochester team is on edge due to the presence of a supernatural serial killer who cannot be caught. Jace is the focus of much animosity from the region leader, Damon (who was introduced in the prequel novella, Shadow Hunter) since it appears that the killer is a werewolf.
Frankie Amato is Alpha of the Rochester Pack of werewolves. In an attempt to protect her pack, she also is searching for this serial killer who is raping his victims and tearing them open, leaving them for dead. After discovering yet another victim, Jace and Frankie engage one another in battle, which leaves them entangled in so many ways.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about Jace and Frankie, their respective histories and the ins and outs of pack life. The world-building is informative yet smooth. I was able to take in each bit of information without feeling cluttered or overwhelmed. It was interesting to find out more about Jace and the secrets he holds.
Jace and Frankie make a pretty hot couple. Fueled by the fact that Frankie is in her estrus (heat), the pair’s natural attraction for one another immediately kicked into high-gear. This is then doubled by the intense feelings generated by longtime fears and stereotypes. Ms. Ballenger writes some smokin’ scenes for the pair.
Overall I really liked the mythology and world-building; however, I did have a few issues that were bothersome to me. First are the extensive pack rules. They are overly complex and inflexible. For example, even though she is the packleader, the entire pack had to vote on whether or not Jace could work with Frankie hunting the killer. This happened again when an associate pack member is kidnapped--the pack took too much time fighting and voting over who was to go look for and save her. I felt that nothing would ever be accomplished with such backwards and outrageous rules.
Secondly, I found the lack of camaraderie and loyalty among characters distressing. Jace is completely betrayed by several members of his EU team and even the ones that seem to have his back. He is also treated viciously by leader Damon. It was disturbing the level of pure hatred and meanness between team members. I felt the same about the relationship between Frankie and her pack, although it was somewhat understandable since she is a female packleader who has to worry about an alpha male trying to overtake her position. Finally, I felt that Frankie (more so) and Jace were both too quick to believe the worst of each other. At times, their actions felt like contrived roadblocks keeping the pair apart in order to provide a more dramatic conclusion.
The killer, who is identified early on as Robert, is very twisted in a “really want to hate him” kind of way. There is a mystery as to exactly who and what Robert is. Clues are presented to the reader in bits and pieces, including Jace’s dreams, and I found the reveal of his true identity quiet exciting. It seems like all of the pieces of the puzzle haven’t been put in place (I think?!), and I hope we will get follow up on parts of Jace’s dreams in subsequent stories. If not, then I do wish there had been more of a tie-in with one particular dream dealing with mythical characters.
Finally, the climatic showdown is entertaining and action-packed. I liked the ending; however, I was disappointed that there was a lack of follow-up on something significant that was to happen with Robert’s defeat. I wish that there had been more to the final scenes and/or an epilogue. Hopefully I will see more of Jace and Frankie in the next book.
In conclusion, Twilight Hunter is an action-packed, exciting story. The mystery of who and what Robert is was good. My biggest complaint with the story is that so many of the characters were too quick to turn on their friends and comrades. It hurt the cohesiveness of the tale and my desire to support the character. However, in general I enjoyed the mythology and the dynamics. The storytelling was pretty solid, other than what I mentioned above. I found that I was invested in the story and characters from the start. Twilight Hunter is an entertaining beginning to an exciting new series.