Niles Arnold Ryker III (he HATES his whole name) fought for the Union in the War of Northern Aggression. So he had seen a lot in his years walking this Earth and not a lot intrigued him anymore. The skinny female demon hunter fighting off the three young vamps in an alley was the exception. She was extremely skilled, but there was no hatred or revulsion in her aura. This was just business for her. Izzie Bennett killed those who meant to do her or others harm. She and her partner/mentor Wright rid the world of the unnatural vermin seeking to spread their darkness to the unsuspecting human population, but for Izzie, it was a “don’t start no thing, won’t be no thing” type of gig. She didn’t harbor the consuming hatred for vampires that Wright did. Especially since most of her damage came from humans. Ryker was also showing her that the world isn’t black and white but an infinite number of shades of grey.

This book literally just blew me away. It is soooo very, very different than what I was expecting. I have been a HUGE fan of Rosalie Stanton for quite a bit because of her snarky dialogue, dark humor, fantastic heroines and “off the charts hot” erotic content, and even though many of her books dealt with demons or vampires, there was an overall feeling of lightness to the stories, not “happy, happy, joy, joy ” but light nonetheless. This book is just exponentially darker and grippingly intense. All the aforementioned elements are still in the book (OMG, especially the erotic one) but comparing this book to Ms. Stanton’s previous releases is like comparing everyday Marines and Sailors (whom I truly worship) to US Navy SEALs. Sure they’re all soldiers, but a SEAL has that indefinable something that’s very rare. This book is a SEAL.

The characters in this book are all incredibly damaged but still struggle to find a somewhat, if not meaningful, at least survivable existence. With a basic core of innate decency, they try their best to keep at least one foot on the side of good. Sometimes that’s an impossible task and lives must be forfeit to the whims of fate. Fate has not been a kind mistress to many in this story. Tragedy and loss plays a major part in shaping their combined destinies. It’s how each character handles the blows thrown at them that determines the mettle of the person. Some overcome and some succumb to the darkness, Izzie and Ryker are still fighting the battle along with Connor (a great and loveable ogre of a barkeep). This is a book whose characters and story linger long after the last word is read. I want to know what happens with Wright and his young daughter. I need to know if the lab where Ryker and Izzie were held is still operational. I really need to know if Izzie gains any weight ( that was one skinny chick). These characters could quite easily become an obsession and Rosalie Stanton deserves major kudos for such a powerful book. You know I hear at least once a day that the whole vampire theme is played out and passe, and to this I say a resounding “Bull Feathers!” Great stories from talented writers never grow old or passe and Know Thine Enemy more than meets that criteria.

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