Gwen’s review of Embraced By Darkness (Riley Jensen, Guardian, Book 5) by Keri Arthur
Urban Fantasy released by Dell 31 Jul 07
This series is difficult to pigeon-hole. It’s fantasy, paranormal, futuristic, suspense, mystery, and romance all rolled in one. The heroine is Riley Jensen – a werewolf/vampire half-breed. The heroes are as numerous as the situations she finds herself in, but this book’s hero is Kellen, another werewolf and, she thinks, the love of her life. Riley and her twin brother, Rhoan, fight the baddies, try to have normal personal lives, and deal with pack politics all in one. Riley is a vulnerable, kick-ass heroine and I like her honest approach to life.
I found this series shortly after the first book came out last December. I proceeded to wait for each release with barely contained excitement. And, because of the back-to-back release dates, I was able to satisfy my jones quickly – no suspension of self-gratification for me. BONUS!
Riley is a heroine I can identify with. She wrestles with normal (though perhaps not the “getting fuzzy” part, but I’m not speaking for Sybil 😉 ) – juggling personal life, work, life-goals, etc. She’s a funny, honest character whose approach to life is scarily “normal” for all the abnormal stuff she deals with.
A big complication in Riley’s life is she is evolving into something “more” due to exposure to a drug (unbeknownst to her, in book 1). As a guardian, she’s forced to kill bad guys and in this book, to her personal horror, she begins to kill more easily. All of this makes her relationship with Kellen – an alpha werewolf – difficult. He wants/needs to protect her and, because of her job, she keeps getting her ass kicked and not letting him help. She doesn’t even call him on a couple of occasions. (Personally, I think she is suppressing her her real self to have this relationship with Kellen – she’d end up being really unhappy in the long run.)
Ms Arthur’s storytelling is getting better and better with each book. As with the other books, Embraced has suspense, interesting concepts, terrific main and secondary characters, well developed story arcs, and the world-building is highly entertaining. In addition, Ms Arthur is one of the very few authors who can write from first person and I don’t hate it.
I think this series is worth the time and emotional investment to read. Be aware, however, that there be a lot of boinking goin’ on in several of the books. Riley has lots of different partners but it’s appropriate to the story, rather than squick-worthy. However, in this book Riley tries too hard to get what she’s always imagined she wanted – soulmate to another wolf, white picket fence, kids running around, etc. As a result, she suppresses her natural wolf-tendencies to have sex with men she’s attracted to, and she’s faithful to Kellen (at least in body, if not mind). Not that this book isn’t still steamy and oh-so-hot – it just didn’t have the ultra-steaminess of the other entries in the series.
This is a great summer read. Be forewarned it doesn’t have the typical HEA ending. But I can’t wait to find out what happens to Riley in the next entry; which according to Keri’s blog, will be called The Darkest Kiss and QUINN COMES BACK in it! Not sure about the release date, but it looks like it will be next year.
Read more reviews by following the series’ tag.
Now a full-fledged guardian–or supercop–Riley Jenson is riding high…until her family comes calling. When her pack’s alpha demands that she solve the mystery of a vanished girl, Riley can feel a trap closing in around her. Soon she is caught between a lover who demands that she give up her work, a serial killer who knows no boundaries, and a club where humans and supernaturals mix–at their own peril. Thrust into a realm of seduction and violence unlike any she could have imaged, Riley has to battle to save everything she holds dear. But the ultimate hunt has only just begun…
Read an excerpt.
Other books in the series: