Scorched (The Dark Forgotten, Book 2)
by Sharon Ashwood
(Signet Eclipse, $7.99) ISBN 978-0-451-22864-2†
****
Sharon Ashwood tantalizes readers with Scorched, the second installment in her Dark Forgotten series. She introduces us to some new characters and reacquaints us with favorites from Ravenous like Holly Carver, the powerful witch who vanquished the demon and her vampire lover, Alessandro Caravelli. Hollyís long-lost sister, Ashe, rides into town on her motorcycle for a visit. The only problem is her profession and her mission: Sheís a vampire slayer, hell-bent on taking out Hollyís man. Ashe canít seem to see Alessandro as anything but a monster.†

The other plot-line in this action-packed story has Conall (Mac) MacMillan, the detective-turned-soul-eating demon from Ravenous returning to Fairview. He has almost all of his humanity back, but someone has a task in mind for him that requires his former demon powers. Alessandro, the supernatural ďsheriffĒ of Fairview, tosses Mac into the Castle again so he wonít harm town residents.

Remember, the Castle? If not, itís a cavernous monstrosity of dank stone that serves as a prison for supernatural bad guys. But not everyone inside is bad, including the tiny and alluring Constance, a barely-turned vampire who remains innocent as she has yet to taste human blood. Mac fights his attraction to Constance, considering his last encounter with a woman turned him into the demon he is. Always the detective, Mac agrees to help Constance rescue the foundling she raised from the guards who kidnapped him. But the guards arenít easily thwarted, and Mac finds himself at the center of something far more complex and evil than a simple rescue mission.†

All in all, Scorched is a roller-coaster ride of action, mystery, evil and romance. Ashwood deftly interweaves the two storylines, keeping readers eagerly turning pages in this novel that just might keep you up late to finish it. She laces her dialogue and prose with just the right amount of humor for a light touch without the book being too campy and begs the question whether good or evil can be determined merely by species. Perhaps, itís the same with monsters as it is with humans, everyone has a balance of good and bad, just as day always follows night. Sexual romps, fight scenes, shopping expeditions and magic.

Scorched has it all, but itís all part of the framework rather than one element overshadowing another or the main story. Iím eagerly awaiting book 3, called Unchained. Unfortunately, itís not slated for release until July.

--Katherine Petersen


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