by T.A. White
Series: Aileen Travers #5
Also in this series: Shadow's Messenger, Midnight's Emissary, Moonlight's Ambassador
Publisher: T.A. White
Publication Date: June 10, 2020
I received an advance review copy of this book from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Aileen Travers thought she had it all figured out. Part private investigator, part fixer to the supernatural community, she was slowly building a reputation as the go-to vampire in Columbus. If you had a supernatural problem and nowhere to turn, she was the girl for you. The best part—no one had tried to kill her in weeks.
Aileen’s peaceful existence comes crashing down around her when an unwilling visit to the police station results in her picking up a stalker—or two. Now, Aileen is dodging suspicious looking portals while evading kidnapping attempts.
Looks like Aileen has a new client. Herself.
I’m a pretty big T. A. White fan, so of course I was ridiculously excited to hop back into the Aileen Travers series. The ending of Dawn’s Envoy seemed to mark a turn in the series to me, and I was pleased to see that born out in this book. This is the fifth book in the series and absolutely cannot be read as a standalone.
“Nothing good ever comes of suppressing ourselves. It’s the first rule any spook learns,” Jerry observed. “If I were you, I would question why the person you call captain pushed you in that direction.”
After four books of fighting to remain human and in control of her life, Aileen’s finally come to terms with her life. She’s got a job she likes, friends in the paranormal community that she’d trust with her back, and something that sort of resembles a relationship with Liam. Aileen has established herself as a sort of private investigator for the paranormal community, and now Connor’s decided that he wants to help her out. Oh, and mysterious shadow beings keep popping up and trying to kidnap her, not to mention that her old captain – the one who initially helped her out when she was turned into a vampire – is back in town. Is it a string of coincidences, or is there something more sinister at work?
“Not everything has to be a fight, A. There are good parts to being a vampire too,” Nathan said softly.
My smile was faint. “I’m beginning to see that.”
There’s a huge difference in tone between this book and the previous ones. The biggest change is that Aileen’s more at peace with being a vampire and all that entails, so there’s much less angsting over everything. While I was expecting this after the events of the last book and I’m overjoyed that Aileen’s finally accepting herself, I wish there had been a little more setup in between the “I hate Thomas and all vampires by extension” to “yeah, OK, they have a point.”
“Don’t let Aileen fool you. She appears grumpy but she’s happy you’re here.”
Flabbergasted disbelief filled me. In what world?
“I understand,” Connor replied.
My gaze swung toward him. He did?
I wish somebody would make me understand.”
It’s also no longer Aileen alone against the world. As the series has progressed, she’s collected more friends and allies, and now she’s got quite the support system, between Liam, Nathan, Caroline and – surprise – Connor. Connor was a complete unknown at the end of the last book, and for whatever reason he’s decided his best chance at acclimating to not-a-fae-deer life is tagging along with Aileen. This puts her in the hilarious position of, well, basically selling him on vampire life, but it also gives her more insight into the complicated relationship between Thomas, Liam and Connor. On a lighter note, I love Aileen and Caroline’s friendship so I’m always happy to see more of it, especially scenes that involve dancing to earworm kid tunes at a vampire night club. What can I say, I’m a sucker for characters being happy before being promptly kicked in the face by the nefarious baddies.
“Or are you going to keep pretending to be less than you are?”
“I’ve never pretended to be anything less than awesome. It’s everyone else who’s been slow to catch on.”
The final component to the change in tone is that while Aileen is still ridiculously underpowered, she’s coming into her own, and she’s certainly not going to let anyone treat her as lesser. She may not have brute power, but she has smarts, and that’s enough to get her through several extremely satisfying confrontations in the book. While her friends are more accepting of her kickassery – and therefore less likely to be overbearing protective numbskulls – her enemies still repeatedly underestimate her in terms of physical strength, magic, and general ability to MacGyver her way out of sticky situations. There’s more explanation about the source of Aileen’s magic which I found extremely interesting, and on Aileen’s heritage in general.
“I miss the days when you were afraid of me.”
I leaned over and nipped the tip of his ear. “That’s because you’re a weirdo with control issues.”
Aileen’s relationship with Liam is still developing, and while she’s not entirely sure whether it’s a good thing or not, she’s content waiting to see where it goes. She hasn’t had good luck with love – look at her abysmal family relationships – and it’s hard for her to believe that this thing with Liam won’t lead to more heartache down the line, especially given his tendency towards trying to steamroll her. Luckily, both Liam and Thomas seem to have finally clued in on the fact that ordering Aileen around is the best way to get her to do the exact opposite. So while things with Thomas aren’t great, they’re not awful – well, at least until he starts trying to manipulate her again.
“Sarcasm, again. Do you have any other forms of communication?” he asked.
I lifted a shoulder. “It’s my love language.”
I finished reading the fourth book with a lot of questions, and luckily we get a lot of answers in this book…. which, of course, lead to more questions. View Spoiler »What are the repercussions of Aileen and Connor setting up a vampire house? Why are the hunters targeting Aileen? Will we get to see more adorable shadow doggy? Is Thomas really going to put on his vampire realtor hat? « Hide Spoiler While the author’s said there is going to be another Aileen book, there’s no tentative release date for it yet, so it looks like I’ll have to wait a bit to get my questions answered. Overall, this is another great entry in the series, and I will be anxiously awaiting more Aileen!