Paperback: 368 pages
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Source: purchased copy
The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.
When I first looked at the book cover, my brain immediately processed two thoughts simultaneously: (1) Ooohh, pertty colors! and (2) Skank Alert! Admittedly, I had to reel in my somewhat judgmental side and read the story description before deciding for or against reading the book. Just because the cover model looks like she's been shopping at HOOKERS-R-US doesn't mean it's an accurate representation of the heroine. And if by chance it is, that might not necessarily be a bad thing either. I mean, hookers can be badass. Seriously. In my old neighborhood, a hooker managed to escape handcuffed from a cop and proceeded to steal his police car in order to make her getaway, which naturally resulted in a high-speed chase that involved helicopters & spotlights. True story.
As it turns out, the protagonist, Abby, is neither a hooker nor a stripper and is only a little slutty. In an ironic, twisted sort of way, I felt a wee twinge of disappointment at this realization. Anyways, Abby is in actuality a sales girl at a mystical shop/bookstore, and she's also a touchstone, which is basically a human magically (spiritually?) linked to a supernatural being like a faerie or a demon making it possible for that being to then travel freely between the human realm and the otherworldy dimensions. In order for the link to be established, a contract needs to be agreed upon and signed by both parties. And as with any legally binding agreement in which one party is more privileged and/or powerful than the other, there's some crucial fine print that essentially equates to YOU ARE SO EFFIN' SCREWED.
I liked the idea of touchstones and there were several other interesting, creative ideas. Unfortunately, those ideas weren't fully realized and fleshed out. Terminology, mythology, and rules were thrown around without much explanation. All sorts of supernatural beings popped in and out of the story at random and brief intervals. It was like walking onto a construction site where a building's framework stood incomplete and being told to finish it without being shown the blueprints. In other words, I don't think there was a solid enough foundation for the worldbuilding and not enough description for the ideas to come to life (at least not in my mind).
Abby grated on my nerves. She was totally emo. If she wasn't lusting after Brystion while simultaneously completely denying it, she was throwing herself one big miserable pity party. It was all Woe Is Me—I have a tragic past with lots of guilt and self-loathing, and I can't let anyone get too close to me; so I'll act tough and mouth off with lots of snarkiness to cover up the inner pain. I wanted to reach into the book and slap her...HARD. For the life of me, I can't think of any other aspect of her personality or if she did anything other than cuss, whine, cry, argue, flirt, and have seizures. Oh wait! Now I remember, Abby had big boobs. What significance this detail holds, I do not know, but it was mentioned repeatedly throughout the story.
Brystion was talking, walking sex. Granted, he's an incubus, so the playboy persona, shameless flirting, and repeated invasion of personal space was partially excusable, but the guy didn't start developing a genuine personality until the second half of the book. The first half was dedicated to him trying to get into Abby's pants, which she was quick to label Mission Impossible even though it proved to be rather easy. Sadly, just as I was starting to like Brystion, he too decides to go all emo and then proceeds to act like a jerk. Hey, at least at that point, him and Abby finally had something in common. Yay, true love!
As for the pervy unicorn, well, I wish I could say I found him to be a source of quirky comic relief, but I can't. Quite the contrary. He made my inner child feel really, really sad and a little dirty for dressing up as a unicorn that one Halloween back in the day. The miniature four-hoofed lecher was obviously setup to be a funny sidekick, but I found his antics to be the equivalent of a fart joke.
Lastly, another thing that bugged me about this book is the fact that it has been promoted as an Urban Fantasy when in reality it reads like a Paranormal Romance with water-downed sex. I'm not saying that PNR is bad, but I was expecting something else and thus found myself disappointed and feeling a bit cheated.