|Hmm, I always thought hellhounds would look like Yorkies.|
Plot Summary: MINOR SPOILER ALERT. This series focuses on the four horsemen of the apocalypse, each of whom has a seal which, when broken, causes them to turn completely evil. When all the seals have broken, the end of the world will begin. The first seal, belonging to Pestilence, has broken. The other three horsemen are desperate to avoid turning evil and signaling the end of the world. This book focuses on Ares (War), for whom the seal is contained in a person--if the person dies, the seal breaks. That person is Cara, a human woman of mild supernatural talents. Ares tries to keep Cara safe while finding someone to pass the seal to, because harboring it is slowly killing her. Cara is also bound to a hellhound puppy, who's life force is helping to sustain her--but if the puppy dies, she will die also. In the meantime, Pestilence is free to cause disease and suffering in the human world, and the only weapon that could take him down has been lost.
The book starts out a bit slow while all of this is laid out, but it improves tremendously. It's stylistically diverse, mixing fantasy, romance, and horror in an almost seamless blend. I was very impressed by Ione's efforts in world building, which are steadily improving with each book she writes.
The characters were fairly three dimensional and interesting. Ares has a long and violent history, and it really comes through in his attitude and emotions. Cara initially seems weak, helpless, and even naive, but you quickly learn that there is more to her and she grows into a surprisingly tough heroine. I liked them as a couple, and I though Ione did an excellent job of developing their relationship from misunderstanding and dislike to love and acceptance. A few new characters are introduced, and all intrigued me sufficiently that I'm looking forward to their books. And yes, many of the characters from the Demonica books show up and play strong roles in this book.
Overall, this is an excellent choice if your looking for a dark paranormal romance. 4.5 stars.