NO MERCY (Dark Hunter #19)
St. Martin's Press
Dev Peltier works the door at Sanctuary, his family's bar and a haven for all varieties of paranormal beings. He recently lost both his parents in a fight to protect his younger sister Aimee's mate, and that loss coupled with his sister's subsequent mating leaves him ready to part with Sanctuary and carve out his own path.
Just as he begins to seriously contemplate leaving his close-knit family behind, a beautiful distraction wearing black leather and riding a bike like death holds no sway over her shows up at Sanctuary's door. Sam is a Dark-Hunter, sworn into the service of Artemis after her brutal death and forbidden from seriously fraternizing with any males that might divert her attention away from her cause.
Dev and Sam share an instant attraction, but all-too soon reality intervenes and the sworn enemy of all Dark-Hunters, the Daimons, prove they are no longer content to stalk the shadows in search of human souls to steal. They've figured out a way to walk in the daylight, giving them an extreme advantage over the Dark-Hunters still relegated to darkness. If that were not a big enough problem, Sam and Dev learn quickly that her past just might hold a secret the Daimons need to change their entire existence for the better, but their quality of life improvement will no doubt be to the detriment of everyone else.
This series never fails to provide a quick, entertaining read. Dev is infectious with his undeniably charming sense of humor, and he only serves to further cement the reader's attraction to him with every word that comes out his mouth without running through a filter first. His sarcasm is laid on so incredibly thick one can practically wring the pages and watch the snark drip out, and his continual quips (mostly relating to his wish to be in various forms of undress with Sam) are outlandishly crude and hilariously inappropriate, leaving us no other alternative than to laugh out loud at his antics and harbor an irrational jealousy of Sam that she is able to win the heart of this ideal fictional hero.
Though Dev is the true highlight of the story, Sam is a gratifying heroine, one who isn't satisfied with letting anyone, even an alpha male bear with an extraordinarily large and fragile ego, fight her battles for her. She dons her armor, wields her sword, and charges into the fray with a prowess to match and exceed any of her male counterparts. So many times in paranormal romances, the female protagonist is strong and capable, but at the end of the day she is often banished to the sidelines or left to fight a lesser battle while the hero charges into battle in all his glory. This time, it's Sam who possesses the necessary skills to solve the Daimon predicament she and Dev are forced into, and it's Dev who is left on the sidelines to watch as Sam proves her skills to be laudable in the extreme.
Ms. Kenyon always does a beautiful job of crafting her secondary characters, and the other Dark-Hunters' interactions with Dev and Sam are endlessly delightful, their verbal sparring providing innumerable memorable quotes. My only complaint is with the inevitable moment when one half of the couple feels it necessary to push the other away in order to spare their life. Just once I want one of them to say "your rejection of me is duly noted, but I don't accept it, " and then refuse to cede the relationship come what may. I think that scenario would be particularly refreshing.
Despite that minor pitfall, No Mercy is a fun read, full of humor and action. It ends with a very interesting development in the Dark-Hunter/Artemis relationship and I am certainly looking forward to watching this new aspect evolve as the series continues.