by T.A. White
Series: Aileen Travers #3
Also in this series: Shadow's Messenger, Midnight's Emissary, Dawn's Envoy
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Aileen has always been certain of a few undeniable facts—black raspberry is the only ice cream flavor that matters, vampires can't be trusted, and her loyalty, once given, is unquestionable. When a late-night visitor shows up needing her help, she agrees without hesitation.
It's not long before a pounding at her door reminds her that nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems. Now, with her friend missing, Aileen realizes her simple favor leads to consequences she cannot avoid as she finds herself drawn further into a world she’s done everything to escape.
As loyalties are tested, Aileen will need to decide how far she will go in the name of friendship. Because bodies are dropping and the trail leads right back to one she holds dear. Will she stand fast in her beliefs or will she be forced to betray another?
One thing is clear—her choice may lead to her salvation or her doom.
Why yes, I am still trucking through this series in anticipation of the fifth book being released in early June! As you’d expect, there are massive spoilers below for the first two books in the series, especially as this book is spent dealing with the fallout from the last book. Spoilers ahoy!
“Turns out lying, even by omission, pretty much kills a relationship—especially when the part of your life you tried to keep secret tears hers apart.”
After the events of the last book, Caroline is now a werewolf, but the demon taint has made her change even more perilous. When she shows up on Aileen’s doorstep after months of silence, Aileen finds she can’t send her friend back to her alpha against her wishes. But that action puts her at odds with the werewolves, and she soon finds herself an unwilling guest of the vampires in case Caroline tries to contact her again. But her friend may be more dangerous than Aileen thought, and soon she’ll have to choice – her loyalty to her friend or preventing more deaths.
“Come in. I have a feeling that whatever this is, I’m going to need alcohol.”
“You don’t want to know what I need first?”
I snorted, the sound containing little in the way of humor. “You’ve only ever had to ask. You know that.”
This book seems to be a turning point in the series. Aileen’s still got the same snarky, insubordinate attitude as before, but she’s had to face some uncomfortable truths. Aileen’s decision to keep Caroline in the dark about her secrets led to her becoming involved in the paranormal world, and she’s not sure Caroline will forgive her – or that she’ll forgive herself. While I was so-so about Caroline in the previous books, we get a little more background about her and her friendship with Aileen here. Despite everything else, they’re loyal to each other, Caroline researching random things at the drop of a hat for Aileen when she shows up out of the blue, and Aileen for doing everything to keep Caroline safe from herself and the wolves.
“I hate when people say ‘it’s for your own good’. That’s like saying you’re too stupid to know what’s best for you. Maybe what I’ve chosen, while not the smartest way, is the way that works for me. My entire life I’ve been a square peg trying to fit into a round hole, and I’m tired of it. Going my own way, while difficult and often dangerous, was still better than giving up who I am for a false sense of safety.”
While the book is ostensibly about the werewolves and finding Caroline, it’s also a glimpse into what should have happened to Aileen as a newly turned vampire. Aileen gets to interact with more vampires, including more of Liam’s enforcers and her vampire sire, Thomas. While she negotiated some freedom from the vampires as part of coming forward as his child, she’s still tied to them in more ways than she’d like.
“You were lost, searching for something more. Your entire life you’ve been lonely, so alone that sometimes you couldn’t stand it.”
“What would you know about any of that? You don’t even remember that night.”
“I know, because that was who I was searching for. Someone whose life was so meaningless that they would embrace the gift I had to give them. That they would risk everything to have it.”
The highhandedness of the vampires, especially Liam and Thomas, is still grating, but some of their motives are starting to make more sense. Aileen’s stubborn as all get out, which is one of the reasons I love her as a character, but it also means that sometimes she digs her feet in instead of asking why someone wants her to do something. Could the vampires, I dunno, maybe actually explain things instead of just ordering her around? Yeah, that’d be great, but Aileen’s also at fault for refusing to learn anything about being a vampire – though the mysterious captain who initially helped her out and warned her away from the spooks shares some blame, too. There’s a particularly touching scene where, thanks to having something other than bagged blood, Aileen’s able to go and enjoy the sunset for the first time in years, and it shows just how much some of Aileen’s stubbornness is hurting herself and preventing herself from accepting her new life. She’s clinging to “normality” – her fraught relationship with her family, her job as a courier where she’s part of the spook world but still separate, her beloved black raspberry ice cream – and in some ways it’s just a crutch for acknowledging that she’s a “monster” now. Helping that along, Aileen is forced to face the hypocrisy of saying that Caroline should return to Brax and the wolves, while she’s simultaneously fighting having any contact with the vampires. She’s unusual for a vampire yearling, so while some of the things the vampires are insisting may not apply to her, it doesn’t mean they all don’t.
“What could have possessed you to try to beat Thomas with a lamp of all things?”
My shrug was ruined by the fact that the straps prevented me from moving more than a centimeter. “I thought it time to redecorate. Everything in this office is an antique. Vampires included.”
There’s also some tantalizing hints about where the series will go next. First, there’s confirmation being able to see magic isn’t the only thing Aileen can do – she can also manipulate it. There’s also more hints about what makes her different as a vampire, and hints that Caroline may not have been fully human, either.
“Vampires didn’t show fear. Even baby ones with more anger than sense.”
At the end, more of Aileen’s attempt at living a human life has been stripped away, leaving her clinging to what she has. Overall, I’m very much enjoying where the series is going, and can’t wait to see what happens next!