Possible spoilers for the first two books!
Previously, in Fairview...Ashe Carver -- Holly's older sister -- came to town intent on staking her vampire brother-in-law, convinced he had Holly in his thrall. Instead, she ended up joining forces with Alessandro and Mac to save the Castle from destruction. Holly gives Alessandro some very unexpected news.
Six months later...
Madame Librarian: Ashe has officially retired from the monster slaying biz. She's got her daughter Eden with her now, and she wants to prove that she can be a good mother. To that end, she works at the library, located in the local mall. Now the only battles she routinely engages in are ones with the bookstore clerks, consisting of pranks and practical jokes. But Holly and Alessandro have a new baby in the house, so Ashe is willing to pick up her weapons, on their behalf, to keep Fairview safe for all law-abiding beings. She ends up partnered with Captain Reynard, chasing an invisible and deadly creature through the botanical gardens. And that's just the beginning of their problems.
Captain of the Guard: Reynard is everything you'd expect in a hero from a historical romance novel, as if he had stepped from the pages of one. The second son of British nobility, destined for the army. Unrequited love for a woman who chose another. The rakish good looks and behavior. But life as a Castle guardsman has changed him -- over 250 years in the prison has made him more disciplined, honed his skills and his sense of duty, and smothered all the feelings and desires from life outside the Castle. Leaving the Castle to hunt the creature is dangerous -- the longer he stays in the world, the harder it will be for him to return to the nothingness of his existence in the prison.
Soul Mates: Someone has stolen the jar that contains Reynard's soul and removed it from the Castle. He can exist, for a time, separated from it. However, the longer he remains outside the Castle, the more alive he feels and the magic that binds him to the prison weakens. Eventually, he will die. He asks Ashe for help. Reynard hasn't forgotten that he nearly died in her arms during the battle to save the Castle and he feels a connection. But Ashe has her hands full with her own problems. Eden's paternal grandparents have hired lawyers and are looking to get custody of the girl. Plus, there's a powerful vampire in town who wants what Alessandro has and he thinks Ashe -- because she's Holly's sister -- can give it to him. The fact that it has nothing to do with genetics alone and everything to do with the love Alessandro and Holly have for one another is completely lost on the fellow. Add "creepy stalker" to Ashe's list of troubles.
All in the Family: Once again, there is a strong family theme. Ashe is trying to be a good mother and get to know her daughter. She still harbors guilt over her own parents' deaths. Reynard's love for his own family is the reason he ended up in the Castle in the first place. Then there's Ashe's vampire stalker -- he wants an heir. Even Miru-Kai was motivated by his desire to save someone he cared for like family.
Going Out for a Book Can Be Dangerous in Fairview: As they are heading for the big showdown, Holly notices the newest release of a real author and Alessandro tells her he'll get it for her if they save the day before close of business. But the scariest part -- some of the most destructive scenes take place in places you can find books -- the local bookstore, the public library, and a used bookstore. All those poor books! The horror!
The Romance: Reynard doesn't want to die or fade away, but he's not sure he could return the empty life now that he's fallen for Ashe. He isn't the least intimidated or put off by Ashe's strong personality -- even though he's from a time when women were more genteel, he likes the fact she can stand toe-to-toe with him. For her part, Ashe has already been widowed once, and she's not sure she can cope with falling in love with someone who's doomed. Reynard doesn't treat her like she's a delicate damsel; she's a warrior and he respects that -- not once does he tell her it's too dangerous for her and he should handle things. How can she not fall for a man who understands her so well; a man who would risk his life to save her daughter?
The Bottom Line: While re-reading parts of the book, to refresh my memory, I really fell in love with the characters. Okay... I fell in love with Reynard. His dilemma, even knowing how it ends, still got to me. I really do like Ashe, now that she isn't butting heads with Holly, thinking she knows better than her little sis. And Miru-Kai. A character like him just doesn't just disappear without being heard from again. I wonder when and where we'll be seeing him again. I hope the author has plans for him.
Started: 21 February 2011
Finished: 26 February 2011
Disclaimer: I purchased this book.
Original note I put on Goodreads: After re-reading parts, I've reconsidered my rating. I'm bumping it up to 5 stars. :)