I've been a staunch supporter of Keri Arthur and her writing for a while now. Her Riley Jensen Guardian series got me all hot and bothered about paranormal romance, and truthfully I've read little of anything else since.
Circle of Fire is the first book in the Damask Circle series, focusing on a two-point perspective narrative which I always enjoy. Madeline Smith, protagonist one, is a bit of a recluse, haunted by memories of the past and abilities she doesn't yet understand or even know how to control. And it doesn't help that she's being visited by a sexy entity known as Jon Barnett, protagonist number two - an apparition or perhaps her manic powers going awry once again. Alas, no. He is a shape-shifter with an agenda, their two worlds thrown together seemingly by chance.
Despite a bit of slow and somewhat unnecessary start that is poorly explained away at the end of the novel, we see Madeline and Jon come together, a common goal in mind. Children are missing, Madeline's nephew the recent victim of this ongoing mystery. Tracking down leads and tangling with shape-shifters and dark magic seems to be a part of the deal, but what neither Madeline or Jon counted on was falling in love along the way.
Thrown into one tumultuous situation after another, it's no real surprise that leaning on one another for answers and support soon turns into a fiery back and forth. Thankfully with a decent story and enough action to make Arnie redundant, I wasn't left feeling like I'd just read a Mills and Boons novel.
The characterisation was good and very consistent. I never doubted the choices any character made or the feelings that enveloped them. My only criticism, as mentioned earlier, is based on Madeline and Jon's first encounters. Without creating a spoiler, I just didn't buy the explanation that the writer was trying to pass, it felt clunky and a little like an afterthought in an otherwise smooth story line.
But, once again Keri Arthur does deliver a methodical approach to supernatural thrillers with just enough romance and intrigue to keep you reading on. I rate this book three out of five fangs. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it.
Sixteen teenagers are missing. Eleven bodies recovered, completely drained of blood. Some believe vampires are responsible, but Jon Barnett knows it's something far worse. To stop the killers he needs help from recluse, Madeline Smith, who is afraid of her psychic abilities which have killed.
When 'ghost' Jon Barnett warms Maddie of danger and her nephew disappears, she must leave her haven and place her trust in a man who is neither human nor ghost.
As the noose of sorcery threatens to kill Maddie and Jon, the greatest danger to them both could be the feelings they have for each other.