Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.In Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews, the first full length spin off book set in the Kate Daniel's world featuring Andrea as the narrator, the Andrews writing team returns to Egypt and a hungry-for-glory god to set up the mythology that provides the action and meat for Andrea's investigation of four shapeshifter's found dead at one of Raphael's working sites. In the meantime Andrea and Raphael are dealing with the aftermath of their breakup but neither is taking it well so that bad decisions, passions and drama ensue.
When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea's former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world ...
Andrea - I like her narrative voice and think that she's kickass enough to make a great urban fantasy heroine. She is excellent at handling weapons, her shapeshifting abilities and alpha attitude give her an advantage as a fighter and she can definitely conduct a detailed investigation. Andrea, however, seems to have little knowledge of ancient mythological gods and artifacts to prepare her for situations like the ones she confronted in this story. She is slow in seeking much needed help from the right people which shows poor judgment, and as a result her investigation is needlessly long-drawn.
Arcanio - I love the way Andrea mentors the young bad bouda Arcanio in this story. Their scenes together are a combination of action packed fun times, Andrea setting Arcanio straight, and some surprisingly touching moments. I find it interesting that it is through Arcanio that Andrea's background story is completely revealed and love his reaction to that revelation. Those two bonded and I'm looking forward to a continued "mentorship/partnership" of sorts. His is a character with great potential.
Roman - In this story, the Black Volhv serves as both the magical help Andrea needs to solve her case and the comedy relief (You Shall Not Pass!! Really? LOL). I absolutely love his character. There he is with his black magic and his wicked staff spouting black spells one moment and bad pick-up lines the next, making things funny and light during the darkest of moments. He's a character I want to see again!
Raphael - All along I've liked Raphael's relentless love for Andrea, his deceptive beauty and easy going personality. Raphael takes a back seat in the action during the first half of this story, although he is very much in Andrea's mind and in the forefront when it comes to the romance. His easygoing personality has undergone a severe change and in this story we meet an intense, focused Raphael. He's focused on his businesses for Clan Bouda and pissed at Andrea while simultaneously going through the mating frenzy. So, it's a rather volatile shapeshifter and a definite Alpha we meet in Gunmetal Magic. I liked that about Raphael, even if yeah... his way of getting back at Andrea was messed up!!
As always I love the way the Andrews writing team set up a story, action, and characters. I had no problem with the plotting and didn't think that the story lacked interest. It was a great way of getting Andrea's character to finally make some decisions about herself and her future. What I find rather interesting is the emphasis on romance in this urban fantasy installment. Romance is definitely on the forefront and through to the end with a happy ending. In that way it is very different from the Kate and Curran relationship which took a long time to develop and resolve within the series.
Boudas are passionate, volatile, and very dramatic while they're going through their courtship. In that they are different from the other shapeshifters we've seen so far in this series, and the courtship between Raphael and Andrea is an excellent example of all the drama. As Kate Daniels says in this book, (and I'm paraphrasing here) Andrea and Raphael's courtship "is rather like a Spanish soap opera," -- drama, passion and unnecessary angst, with more drama thrown in for good measure. I loved watching Spanish soap operas at one time, so of course I enjoyed the whole thing. ;P
My one big disappointment? Andrea and Aunt B's confrontation. Although the way things went down made sense (when I think about it, it really did), I expected something more dramatic from these two alpha female boudas when they got together.
Gunmetal Magic was an enjoyable read for me, with Andrea as the central character showing both strengths and weaknesses. The secondary characters were definitely a big plus in this story, and the plot was good, but not different enough to set it apart from others in the Kate Daniels' series to make it really "belong" to Andrea. I loved the passion, drama and unnecessary angst that the bouda shapeshifters Andrea and Raphael brought to the romance, and the fact that said romance was a focus in this story -- that was a surprisingly nice change. An overall solid read.
Commentary: I'm not sure how this book would read as the first book of a separate series -- or a stand alone. I recommend readers at least pick up the novellas Magic Mourns and Magic Gifts before reading this book.
Category: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels World
Publisher/Release Date: Ace/July 31, 2012
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