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    Good story, but a strange fit in the series

    Angel Zamora is in prison when Darren and Rima visit him. It's really unique in this series that we get Angel's POV. Three men with no history of Talent were released from prison, began showing signs of using magic, and then were shot in the back of the head. They offer Angel a deal to be an informant on anyone who tries to recruit him when he is released from prison. Angel has no plans to get involved with the mafia or the feds, but life is what happens to him when he's making other plans. As he is pressed into service to the Luschesce crime family, he is kept captive at their estate where he meets Matt. Lest we forget what series this is, a crow heron is following Angel around. Angel is being as truthful and honest as he can in his own morally neutral way. Instead of pushing Matt away, it's strangely having the opposite affect. It is difficult not to have sympathy for Angel, but we are privy to his thoughts. Jerry is the mob enforcer who takes Angel on jobs. Vin is the boss's brother who has some brain damage due to childhood trauma. The moss boss is the one teaching Angel how to use his magic. Then, we have the FBI who should be the good guys, but really aren't in this scenario--even Rima and Darren have basically blackmailed Angel into cooperating. The characters help so we get to see a full range of what shades of grey morality really look like. At first, Matt seems to be the foil for moral center, but even Matt has made his choices. I suppose we are supposed to latch on to Kavon, but he loves the law--to the letter--and the law is not always just and has loopholes. We all have our lines in the sand and this is where we get to see where they are with everyone involved. I like the way the relationship between Matt and Angel developed, but I did need just a little more. I even understand how stressful situations can help accelerate how well people get to know each other and affect how quickly trust develops. But, two sex scenes and Angel is thinking in terms of love? I think that could have waited until a little later in the story. The sex scenes were well done. The epilogue gives us Kavon and Darren having couple time and discussing how the case wrapped up. There are more ideas generated about how magic works based on Bennu knows but that's it for our DC characters. So, this is great...but stylistically it is the outlier as it doesn't match the rest of the series. With all the previous repetition in world-building, part of me wishes the rest of the series had done this and woven in different stories/cases to keep their day job with the FBI at the fore. This has more in common with Lyn Gala's book called Lines In The Sand (which I recommend) than being dropped into the middle of an epic urban fantasy series. I could see fans of Mary Calmes possibly liking this book. It's a mixed bag because I think if you had not read the previous other four books, this could hook you in, but that is deceptive if you like the way this book is written. I feel like this could be the calm before the storm. Still, as we gear up for the epic battle of good and evil ifrit, which is where this seems to be going, it helps to remember the individual battles that are fought all the time. Those battles matter too, every day in every way. I would rate this 4 stars.

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