TO KILL A WARLOCK (Book #1 in the Dulcie O'Neal Series)
Received from the author for review
Dulcie O'Neal is a Regulator and a pretty good one at that. It's her job to keep all types of supernatural creatures on the correct side of the law, and to make sure those creatures that are supposed to be in the Netherworld actually stay there.
As a fairy herself, Dulcie is well equipped to handle a rogue demon, warlock, or vampire, but something new is making it's presence known in a very violent but strangely bloodless way. Dulcie's always relied on her innate fairy ability to identify any and all supernatural creatures that cross her path, but this new killer defies explanation, as does the beautiful stranger she sees just hours before one of the murders takes place.
Turns out this beautiful, undefinable stranger is Knight Vander, sent from the Netherworld itself to find the creature wreaking havoc in Dulcie's town. He's infuriatingly arrogant, frustratingly knowledgeable, and undeniably charming, making it clear that Dulcie is in way over her head in more ways than one. She and Knight team up to search for the enigmatic creature and find themselves waist deep in dark magic, deviant behavior, and smoldering attraction.
This novel has all the necessary elements for a fun and interesting romantic mystery. The story is sound in it's creativity, the digital pages chock-full of humorous and entertaining preternatural creatures framed in a believable world ripe with intrigue and riddled with the occult. We are continually encouraged to flip to the next page just to quell our curiosity as to what antics, mischief, and overall mayhem Dulcie will incite next.
Dulcie starts out as a cute, quirky, heroine with a witty sense of humor and an easy-going attitude, making her instantly personable and someone to whom it's easy to relate. However, when the romantic element of the story comes into play, she becomes increasingly frustrating. There are three possible love interests vying for Dulcie's affections, each with his own unique and delicious appeal, and she enters into a physical (though chaste) relationship with each of them only to pull from their embrace quickly and inexplicably each time. As a result we, much like her potential suitors, are left with the ache of a promise unfulfilled, grinding our teeth in frustration at her continual shift from hot to cold. Now, this is not a romance, so a steamy scene is neither necessary nor expected, however the sexual tension between Dulcie, Quill, Knight, and Bram is a prominent part of the story that unfortunately leads nowhere. We are teased, titillated, and ultimately left wanting.
There are also one or two small secondary plotlines occupying valuable page time better dedicated to the continuation of the main storyline, one in particular dealing with Dulcie's distaste for her characteristic pointy-tipped ears. This side story is meant to illustrate a vulnerability on Dulcie's part, perhaps to help us relate to her on a more fundamental level, but aside from some mild irritation at their shape, she really isn't plagued by an overwhelming sense of insecurity and quickly abandons her pursuit altogether after very little consideration. To make room for this detour, some of the more engaging scenes seem to be cut short when their extension would have added some additional depth to promising characters, increasing our connection and response to their emotional and physical conflicts.
Overall, this is a story with a great deal of potential, one where the pieces are all on the board, they just need to be moved ever so slightly and more strategically to create a greater impact on us as readers.
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