The old Showalter is back in Black and Blue? Maybe.

How funny, just last week I wrote a review about how much I missed the old Gena Showalter, and then last night I got to the first real juicy scene in the sequel to Last Kiss Goodnight, Black and Blue (#2 in the Otherworld Assassins series).  BB OA2And, it was a nice surprise.  I am not sure that Black and Blue is still quite up to par (based on standards set by the first Lords of the Underworld books) but… it was a huge improvement over Last Kiss Goodnight.  So, maybe I need to eat my words.  At a minimum, I feel like I found Waldo!  And I am stoked.  I then realized that Showalter’s website says she’s not under contract for any more in this series and I admit to being disappointed.

First, the relationship between our two characters of Blue and Evie was great.  Finally, someone I would call a strong woman.  She’s smart, sarcastic, and totally deadly.  Yippeee!  I loved seeing the contents of her purse.  At first I didn’t get the seemingly random objects and when we find out what that’s all about, it was an awesome little treat.

I liked that while Blue was sort of a little damaged, he wasn’t the typical male with the  “oh no one can love me syndrome”, instead it was all about his respect for Evie’s father.  And while she had her issues too, and was super insecure at times (mostly about her looks), she wasn’t so super damaged that I was constantly reading the “nobody could ever love me” from her perspective either.   And I liked that there was a ton of action. While the action seemed a little repetitive it was still fun to read. The problem with books like this and it’s predecessor is that there are only so many times a reader can take seeing failed escape attempts, rescues where the rescuer ends up kidnapped, bad guys who get away for the sake of stretching the plot further than it should be stretched, and dialogue – in the characters head or out loud – where the same stuff is told to me over and over and over. Although that last point seems to be indicative of this genre, not just a failing of this book or author in particular.

I admit to being a little confused at times who was doing the speaking – and which point of view we were getting.  Again, that too seems to be a failure of this genre (or should I said bad editors in this genre) since I would sometimes need to read a conversation from the start a few times to know who was saying what – new paragraphs don’t always indicate the other person is now speaking and with the “he said” (or equivalent) sometimes it was tough.

There were some little jewels throughout the book as well as rough spots.  References and jokes about the rubick’s cube and the other stuff Evie carries in her purse were awesome.   And the reaction that Blue and the other characters have when looking through the purse – even better.  The sarcasm between the characters was amusing.  And it was nice to see that things were occurring over time and that is how the relationship blossomed.  It was also nice to see that Evie’s dad didn’t just do a complete 180 on how he felt about Blue and Evie so that felt a little more real too.  So, despite the repetitive nature of some of the plot, things moved along at a decent pace to be able to stomach the deja vu feeling that crept up on me from time to time as I read.

And, while I still am not sure the steaminess is 100% back, it was an enormous improvement over Last Kiss.  It didn’t feel gratuitous but natural and didn’t leave me annoyed that what is a common key element of this genre was missing.

All things considered, Black and Blue was a much better book than the first in the series.  And leaves me a little bummed that I may not be able to see how John recovers.


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