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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Circle of Fire by Keri Arthur

Title: Circle of Fire (Damask Circle #1)

Author: Keri Arthur
Publisher: Random House/Bantam Dell
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: January 28, 2014
How I Read It: E-Arc from Publisher through NetGalley
Rating: 4 Crowns

Sixteen teenagers taken from their homes. Eleven bodies recovered, each completely drained of blood. Some believe vampires are responsible. Jon Barnett knows that what’s happening is far worse. Sent by a group of paranormal investigators known as the Damask Circle, Jon quickly becomes enmeshed in a web of black magic and realizes he needs help. But fate gives him only one choice.
Madeline Smith has retreated to an isolated farmhouse, afraid of the abilities she cannot control—abilities that have killed. But when a “ghost” brings a warning of danger and her nephew goes missing, Maddie not only has to leave her haven, she has to place her trust in a man who is neither ghost nor human. As the noose of sorcery tightens, the search for the teenagers becomes a race against time. But the greatest danger to Maddie and Jon could be the intense feelings they refuse to acknowledge but cannot ignore. (blurb from NetGalley)
This is another republished effort from Ms. Arthur and having missed it the first time, I'm very glad it's come out again. This series takes place in the same world as the Nikki/Michael series. I know this because the Damask Circle (the organization Jon is working for) is the one from the other series. It was nice having Seline be present once again, though still very much in the background.
I really felt for Maddie, having carried such a load on her shoulders her entire life, being gifted (she can set fires with her mind) and no one believing her up to the point she was taken to psychologists to study what might be wrong with her. No one trusted her ability, and that just makes it worse for her when she calls to check on her nephew and he disappears later that night. Her brother-in-law is a total jerk, but that situation resolves itself nicely.
Jon is awesome. He's a hawk shifter and I don't see enough bird shifters in books. I really liked that he was determined and forthright, without stumbling over the line into alphaholeness. There's a careful like between alpha male and alphahole male. Once he realizes what Maddie's gifts are, he does his best to help her figure out how to at least stabilize them so she doesn't live in fear that she'll accidentally use them against someone. (She definitely figured out how to use them against someone in the course of this book, and the resulting deaths were fully warranted.)
The plot was standard Arthur fare. Maddie's nephew is one of many vanishing children and Maddie has to find out where he went (after she rescues Jon from the well he was in, and that only happened after she started believing he was real, not just a ghost who'd wandered in). The villain was suitably creepy and I was really glad to see them get their comeuppance. 
Where this book (the series really) is different from most of Ms. Arthur's books is that we will not have the same hero/heroine for the entire line. The next book has a different set. Jon and Maddie's story is complete, and that made for a very refreshing change for me. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Arthur does awesome heroines, but it's new so I like the change of pace.
4 crowns all the way! I can't wait to read the next book in this series. I'll review it here on March 4. 

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(Review also featured on my blog, Tory Michaels' World)