Sherrilyn Kenyon is the queen of the tortured hero. I have to admit, I was a little worried where she would go next after the misery of Styxx, but I am happy to say she struck a much better balance this time around. This is Hauk’s story and we finally get to go beyond his hulking tough-as-nails exterior, to the warm and gooey center underneath.
Hauk has spent almost all of his adult life betrothed to a woman who hates his guts. Deandra was his brother’s wife and when he died, the customs of the Andarian people forced Hauk to offer himself to her. Unfortunately, she blamed him for Keris’s death and spread to her poison to Hauk’s entire family. Every year, he must offer himself again… and every year she hatefully turns him away. But she never completely releases him from his duty. So he remains bound to her, unable to even touch another woman, as she rejects him over and over again.
This year, though, she promises to finally accept his suit, after he mentors her son on his Endurance, a grueling right of passage for Andarian youths. Darice is a spoiled brat who knows only the vitriol his mother has spewed about Hauk for years. Fortunately, Nykyrian’s daughter Thia goes along for the ride, helping to balance the scales. It’s on this Endurance that Hauk crosses paths with Sumi, a League assassin on a mission to prove his ties to the Sentella. She bears him no ill will, but the League has her daughter, and if she ever wants a chance to get her child back, she must do as commanded. Of course, when she gets to know Hauk, it gets harder and harder to consider betraying him.
Hauk was a really good tortured hero, and unlike some of Kenyon’s characters, he wasn’t SO tortured that I wanted to stop reading. He wasn’t sexually abused, thankfully, but he’s been through a lot, both physically and emotionally. What helped balance this, though, was the connection he had to his friends in the Sentella. He has a support network. He has people who love him, but Sumi is really the first woman who has looked at him with desire. Remember, women are off-limits if he wants to maintain his honor and commitment to Deandra, so there is a great internal conflict he has going on about whether to allow himself a chance for that kind of connection. It helped create a pretty good tension that made the eventual love scene hot and satisfying.
I liked Sumi well enough, though at times she was almost too good to be true. She treated Hauk the way I wanted her to, though, and that went a long way to me getting on board with the romance. Kenyon really could have dragged out the deception of Sumi’s mission and I was glad that she didn’t. It kept the story development from being too predictable and it kept the plot moving. That’s no small task considering the sizeable length of the book. I really enjoyed the romance, the HEA, and how much Kenyon incorporated other League characters and their backstories into the book. She did a great job, not only reminding us of who these characters are, but their histories and connections.
There were times I felt she was a bit heavy-handed. The big theme here is on creating a family of the heart. I liked the sentiment and how it fixed something broken in the heroine, but the theme was almost run into the ground. I was also turned off by some of the repetitive language. If Sumi called someone “Sweetie” on more time, I was ready to set the book on fire. And “Gah” has to be one of Kenyon’s favorite words. She uses it ad nauseam. But if you can get past those little annoyances, I thought it was good. Sometimes a little trite, but enjoyable. Be prepared for a long read: It’s 668 pages. But I think it will be a hit with fans of the series.
*ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press
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Born of Fury
by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press