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Jess Haines

I'm an author, a dreamer, a paperback reader...

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Hunter's Moon (Tales of the Sazi, Book 1)
'C. T. Adams', 'Cathy Clamp'
A Brush of Darkness - Allison Pang How much did I love this book? Let me count the ways…

This story has it all. A snarky heroine, a hot incubus, and a pervy, bacon-loving unicorn the size of a housecat, plus insider references to World of Warcraft and fabulous world building to top it off. The jabs at vampires made me snicker, and the “kitchen sink” inclusion of every kind of imaginable supernatural (elves, angels, daemons, unicorns, fae, werewolves, etc) was amusing in how they were all taken for granted—relatively speaking—and viewed with a kind of sarcastic nonchalance and unabashed depreciating wit by the heroine, Abby.

To be honest, Allison wrote something I usually make it a point to avoid. Confession time: I’m not a big fan of paranormal romance. I know, I know. I missed out on some great books by staying away. I’ve dabbled in the sub-genre now and again, but I usually prefer my paranormal hard and gritty with an edge of humor a la Jim Butcher. There are a few reasons for this—mostly because said romance usually involves either so much sex, the plot takes a back seat, or because there is some kind of love triangle, which I am usually not a fan of reading about. Gradually, I’m getting past that and, in this case, I was not disappointed in the least. The sex was hot and meaningful, and the plot most assuredly did not get shunted to the sidelines for the sake of the MCs having more time to bump uglies.

Though the terminology is a little confusing at first, your understanding of the OtherWorld and its folk will grow as you follow along Abby’s adventures. She and Brystion race to find out what has happened to Moira (Abby’s boss—who turns out to be more important than Abby really knew), and Brystion’s sister, a succubus. A number of the OtherFolk have gone missing, and somehow this is all tied together. It is up to Abby to figure out how and why. Oh, and she can’t ignore her duties or leave the city in the process.

The puzzle pieces gradually click together, one by one, as new threats and mysteries pop up along the way. In addition to these problems, Abby has to come to terms with her own inner demons when it comes to the loss of her mother and her capabilities as a dancer, as well as the addition of seizures brought on by a horrific accident she was involved in. To deal with all of those things on top of finding her boss and the missing OtherFolk while maintaining her sharp wit and personality stretches her to the limit, and it’s fascinating to see how she copes with it all. The cast of supporting characters is as rich and detailed as Abby’s personality, and I found myself snickering over the WoW references during a throwdown with some daemons and, later, when Phin the unicorn discovers the joys of MMORPGs. The humor made me feel right at home considering my nerdy background, which is just another reason I give this book a top notch rating.

Abby and Brystion’s relationship progressed very naturally, too. It wasn’t the forced “star-struck lovers who know each other at first sight” that I’ve come to expect from most paranormal romances. Allison handled their trust issues with a deft hand, and it was a true pleasure to watch them come to terms with each other. It grew into something meaningful, which is important to me as a reader.

In closing, this is a fantastic debut, and I’m very much looking forward to the (as of yet untitled) sequels.