I got a complimentary copy of this book free of charge from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Or rather I wheedled it. Anyway that fact didn’t influence my opinion in any way.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Her bruises barely healed, Caitlin Schwarzbach needs time to settle into expatriate life with her brother Gus. Caitlin looks forward to her new job. She has new friends. She also has new enemies. And a new boyfriend. Hagen von der Lahn owns a haunted castle, a title, and the sexiest smile she’s ever seen. But her romantic reunion with the baron of Burg Lahn is cut short when Gus’s car blows up.
Far from being settled, Caitlin’s life has also become supernaturally complicated. Long-term goal: Accept a new paradigm that includes Celtic deities and ancient curses. Short-term goal: Choose between keeping Gus safe or learning the truth about her past and its implications for her future. When she learns about the ‘fracking’ experiment in Cologne being conducted by her enemies, Caitlin’s short-term goal becomes dangerously acute.
I must mention at the very beginning that, in order to fully enjoy the story, it is necessary to read the first book in the series, Primary Fault.
Continuation of a series is a mine field – it can go very well, it can go pretty badly. Here I am pleased to say Ms Reamer managed to avoid most of pitfalls. First of all I was so happy I got a second invitation to Schattenreich and could explore that magical dimension. Yes, I shamelessly begged Ms Reamer for another installment because I wanted to meet Caitlin again and get to know Cernunnos, Death called Ankou and water nymphs, among other creatures. And evil Dagmar of course.
A lot of progress was made in this part – sometimes I felt as if I was travelling down a fractal. Caitlin Schwartzbach not only finds out more about herself and her heritage but she also discovers her special powers concerning moving in and out of the veil. Her romance with Hagen progresses although both of them undergo some difficulties like sudden rivals and painful overlong disappearances (mind you always justified in a logic way). At that point I seriously cheered for the first time because the author withstood the lure of a love triangle which would be very easy to construct but it would reduce the whole story one step down, at least in my view. I appreciate people who know what they want and are faithful; if Caitlin fell for another von der Lahn brother I would like her definitely less. Then came a big revelation concerning Caitlin’s parentage (not saying what because it would be a huge spoiler) and I admit it made things even more interesting.
I am also very happy to say the author never forgot about Caitlin’s mundane career and her brother Gus’s project, the B.E.A.R.( standing for Bensberg Earthquake and Archeoseismological Research). Volcanoes, high tech lasserscanners and the historical influence of earthquakes in Germany sounded to me at least as exotic as Celtic deities explored in a creative way so in my case they added, not distracted from the main plot. Mentioning Gus I should add that he became one of the major players, not just a prop to be pushed around and rescued from time to time; his romantic entanglements seem to be very promising (but not exactly in a happy way).
What’s more I loved the baddies, especially Dagmar Abel who is a great character to follow around and a lady with nice, solid potential in the badness department and a body as honed as a sophisticated weapon. I wish I was given more scenes with her and I hope she will be developed further in the series – she certainly deserves it.
What didn’t work? I admit that the jumps between 1st and 3rd person narration sometimes threw me out of the loop a bit. Also the subplot concerning Samantha, the homely neighbour of Caitlin with kids and some marital problems, made me impatient from time to time. Sam was a nice addition in the first part, feeding the main leads and then helping them to adjust to the new place but then, compared to dreamscapes such as Lahn-dunum and Shattenreich she felt insignificant and boring. After all Sebastian can cook as well ;p.
Finally let me also say that I like the cover art – it is simple but enticing.
I liked the second part better than the first. I would be far more inclined to visit Koln if I could get a private tour of Lahn-dunum, Ande-dubnos or/and Shattenreich. Pretty please – I can even bring my own champagne.