Edge of Oblivion

J. T. Geissinger
October 2012, Fantasy Fiction
Montlake, $7.16, 412 pages, Amazon ASIN 1612184197
Part of a series

Grade: C+
Sensuality: Warm

Edge of Oblivion is the second book in J.T. Geissinger’s Night Prowler series, which continues the story of the Ikati, a race of fierce shape-shifters. I read the introduction and the story sounded interesting. Then I actually read the first couple of chapters with its hokey cattle prod and Furiant torture device, and I resigned myself to a long, tedious read. However, the story improved. Although I can’t say that this book is truly to my taste, I can see where others might find it appealing.

The heroine Morgan Montgomery, has been sentenced to death for her actions that caused harm to the Alpha’s wife Jenna, and his sister Daria. But just as Morgan agrees that she will accept the will of the assembly, the new queen, Jenna steps in with a suggestion: Give Morgan a chance to undo the wrong she did to the tribe. If Morgan can discover the exact location of the Rome headquarters of the Expurgari, the Ikati's ancient enemy and discover how they live, their numbers and what they know about the Ikati’s plans, then she will gain her freedom.

The sixteen assembly members immediately protest that Morgan is not to be trusted, and there is no way to guarantee that she won’t just run away, escaping both her punishment and mission. Their Alpha, Leander, the Earl of Sommerley, negotiates a compromise with his wife. Xander Luna, one of the Ikati’s trained assassins, will accompany Morgan. If Morgan doesn’t meet the two week deadline, then Xander will execute her.

Xander Luna, known as the Shadow, or the Hammer, or the Wrath of God, is soul dead. Even so, he has never seen such an alluring and stunning female. Although, her looks won’t affect his readiness to follow his Alpha’s orders if she fails in her mission. He knows that he is immune to her extraordinary power of suggestion, but not her claws and fangs, so he collars her, preventing her from shifting, which only escalates their adversarial relationship. Once in Rome, he discovers that the more time he spends around her the more he admires her spirit and comes to realizes how truly exceptional she is. Just being around her is breaking down barriers that he has had in place for the last sixteen years. Still, they have a mission, and what they find there mandates that they set aside their differences and combine their talents to defeat their most deadly enemy.

Reading the first two chapters, I was a little lost. While the book is supposedly set in modern times, the Ikati’s ways are very much from the past. Evidently no one is allowed to live away from the tribes, and women are mated for their blood lines. Morgan evidently chaffed under these restrictions and made a bid for freedom resulting in Jenna and Daria’s torture, but since this was covered in the first book and is part of Jenna’s story, it is not elaborated on in this book. I would have liked a little more background.

Along with shape-shifting to panthers or jaguars, some Ikati have special abilities. Xander can change himself to vapor, and walk through walls. Morgan can touch someone, and then have them do her bidding, no matter what the order. Jenna has the gift of sight and is able to read other’s thoughts, see into the future, and has past remembrances. Again I would have liked more world building information on why some have different powers. Still that didn’t affect the overall plot.

The story bounces back and forth between Morgan and Xander’s growing attraction and their mission, along with a newly discovered threat. My biggest issue with the book is that it doesn’t seem different from what is out there now and the author seems to have thrown in an assortment of plot devices – like Ikati Navy Seals, mates recognition on a bimolecular level, animals’ estrous cycle (in heat) and even animal testing, leaving me feeling that even though the book is well written, it is also somewhat clichéd.

Even with that feeling, Ms. Geissinger does an excellent job of setting the stage. I haven’t been to Rome, but from her descriptions it appears she has. I like her writing even though it is a little wordy. The sex scenes are loquacious and a little overwrought; however, I know that many of you won’t mind that at all, especially since they are steamy.

I picked this book up and put it down, picked it up again and then put it down -- back and forth all day, so even with the positives, I can’t rank it higher than a C+. However, many of you really love shape-shifter stories and the power struggle between two high-handed individuals. For those of you, since this is a Montlake romance available (as far as I know) only at Amazon, I recommend downloading the first chapter. You might discover that it has all the plot devices that you love.

-- Leigh Davis

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