Mercy Burns by Keri Arthur

Mercy Burns (Myth and Magic, Book 2)

I’ve been following Keri Arthur’s paranormal fantasy/romance novels since her first Riley Jensen story.  I’ve come to appreciate her blending of action, plot and steamy sex in such a way that they’re all well-balanced.  I also got spoiled by the fact that that series was pretty consistent as to when the books were released.  Her Myth and Magic series debuted three years ago, but then it went on hold until this past April.  The newest installment, Mercy Burns, just isn’t up to the standards I expected from this author.

(Description nicked from the back of the book.)

“Mercy Reynolds is a reporter in the San Francisco Bay area, but she’s also more—and less—than human.  Half woman, half air dragon, she’s a ‘draman’—unable to shift shape but still able to unleash fiery energy.  Now something will put her powers to the test.

Mercy’s friend Rainey has enlisted her help to solve her sister’s murder.  Then a horrible accident claims Rainey’s life, leaving Mercy only five days to find the killer: If Mercy fails, according to dragon law, Rainey’s soul will be doomed to roam the earth for eternity.  But how can Mercy help when she herself is a target?  With nowhere else to turn, she must join forces with a sexy stranger—the mysterious man they call ‘Muerte’, or Death itself, who’s as irresistible as he is treacherous.  But can even Death keep Mercy alive for long enough to find her answers?”

I have to wonder if the time between these novels was enough to make me lose some of my interest in this particular storyline.  I had initially looked forward to this book after reading Destiny Kills, but when Mercy Burns was pushed back for so long, I almost forget to keep an eye out for it.  But be that as it may, this novel seems to have only a passing relationship to the first one.  Yes, it’s in the same universe and yes, it uses many of the same ideas, but it seemed very far removed from the series’ initial volume.

On top of that, I found that the interactions between Mercy and Damon (“Muerte”) to be very annoying.  Early on, they start arguing about draman and how they’re treated by full-blooded dragons.  Mercy thinks that draman are treated as scum, while Damon argues that draman need to be controlled so that they don’t rebel.  This argument recurs over and over—I lost count of how many times it comes up.  Eventually, Mercy starts coming across as whiny over the whole issue, and Damon comes across as snobbish.  It made it hard to sympathize with them.

It also made it hard to believe in their romance.  They spend so much time bickering and slinging blame that I really couldn’t get behind their attraction.  That was something that I was surprised to see, because I’ve always admired Arthur’s ability to weave romance (or just sex) into a narrative without slowing down the story.  In this novel, the romance didn’t gel strongly enough for me to believe it.

I was disappointed to find a Keri Arthur novel that I didn’t like.  Normally, I buy her novels on faith and am not let down.  This time, I was.  This won’t stop me from buying her novels, though—I’m looking forward to the first Risa novel this month.  I just hope that Arthur returns to the storytelling that I’ve come to enjoy, and that Mercy Burns was an anomaly in the otherwise entertaining series of novels that Arthur has thus far produced.

Also by this author: Darkness Devours, Darkness Hunts, Darkness Unbound, Full Moon Rising, Kissing Sin, Tempting Evil

This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on September 10, 2011.

Series: Myth and Magic
ISBN: 9780440245704
Publisher: Dell
Page Count: 320
Publication Date: April 19, 2011
Acquired: Provided by the publisher
Author Website
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