Full disclosure here: I got to both beta read and edit G L Drummond‘s latest offering, Arcane Solutions. So I’ve seen it in rough form and been paid to work out the final kinks, so I’m obviously not unbiased about whether this story is worth reading; I’ve already invested a lot of time to make what I felt was a good story to begin with, stronger. That said, I’m really pleased with where Drummond took the final result. (And I’m a fangirl of hers anyway, if you’ve seen the interview I did with her last year, or my Amazon.com review of Code Walker, which I also edited.)
To get you in the mood, here’s the blurb:
Rescuing under-aged vamp bait and retrieving stolen possessions is all in a day’s work for Discord Jones. When a gorgeous, lying bastard of an elf hires her to find an ancient book, danger takes on a whole new meaning. The book holds an unbelievably powerful spell, and “favored prey of demons” becomes an unwelcome addition to her resume.
Discord, known to her friends as Cordi, is cast in the mold of urban fantasy heroines like Mercy Thompson, Kitty Norville, or Kate Daniels, but with a few key differences to make her stand out. She is slightly younger than the norm, and as such is really still growing into herself, her self-confidence, and her unusual abilities. She also has very close relationships with both her parents, who were happily married until the defining pre-event of the book, “the Melding” pushed Cordi into a 3-year-long coma. As Cordi puts it, “It seemed that watching your comatose daughter slowly waste away to bones put a harsh strain on a marriage.”
Having a nonetheless normal, adult relationship with her parents is actually a strangely unique characteristic for an urban fantasy heroine. Cordi naturally wishes her folks were still together, but she’s also well-adjusted enough to say: “I remember how devastating it had been to wake up and discover they’d divorced two years after the fact. My little brothers are five and three, and I adore them, so don’t want them to have to deal with divorce.” How often, in fact, are we given independent women protagonists who are able to come to that kind of mature resolution without going through a whole soap opera to get there? And how often do we see adult characters who are able to see their parents as adults who make their own mistakes, have their own strengths and weaknesses, and understand and navigate between their differences? It provides a refreshing back story we don’t often get in what frequently get portrayed as post-apocalyptic worlds (where the apocalypse is, mainly, the uncloseting of magic and its associated beings).
Drummond’s real strength continues to shine in this offering. Her ability to write dialogue that is at once funny, engaging, and moves the plot along sets her apart. As an example, Cordi tests her newly assigned partner’s nerves by driving recklessly through the city while taking advantage of an unnamed psi ability:
Nick scowled. “Would you watch the damn road?”
“Wuss. I could drive blindfolded. Wanna see?” My grin broadened as panic bloomed over his face.
“No. There’s…holy…! Can I please drive?”
“I already answered that question. It was ‘no.’ Your turn: any vampire enemies?”
“I’m a shifter, what do you think?” Nick grabbed the dash, still scowling.
“Names?” I persisted, making a sharp right that jerked him into the door. We were nearing an entry point for the Barrows, so I began searching for a parking spot on the car-lined street.
“No one you need to worry about. Are we stopping? Because I think I need to throw up. Has anyone ever told you that you suck at driving?”
“Yeah, and I’ll tell you what I told them: kiss my ass.” Spotting an open spot, I slowed down.
The shifter recovered quickly. “Ooh, can I?”
Drummond builds real and relatable relationships between her characters, which ensures the reader remains engaged throughout the story. I can highly recommend her work for all these reasons to anyone who has a yen for a new twist on the urban fantasy tropes, anyone who enjoys a good mystery, or anyone who likes a good action-adventure story livened up with the unorthodox beginning of a romance. (And, yes, the bedroom scenes are hot, so pay attention to the NC-17 rating the author has put on the title.) She’s offering a coupon code on her author Facebook page until February 3, so run and grab yourself a copy of some good, cheap entertainment while it lasts. And don’t be deterred if you miss the deal, because she’s still crazy-reasonably priced even at full price (gotta love the flexibility an indie author brings to the table there!).