Sunday, January 15, 2017

Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura Thalassa

Title: Rhapsodic
Series: The Bargainer #1
Author: Laura Thalassa 
Release date: November 15, 2016
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 4.5 stars


Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.

The past few months I've been finding my way back to my love of fantasy books. When I spotted this one, I grabbed it on pure impulse and decided to start it immediately. I went in pretty blind, not doing more than the synopsis and browsing the general ratings. I didn't want to second guess myself or talk myself out of trying an unknown (to me) author. Thankfully, this is one of those times when the gamble had a huge payout. This book was exactly what I was craving: it was unique, wonderfully detailed in its world building, and filled with fascinating characters. Without a doubt, Laura Thalassa has found a new follower in me.

This book is told in alternating past and present sections. I know a lot of people have issues with this structure, but I don't have a problem with it most of the time. The book opens you up in a very desperate moment in Callie's past. She's covered in blood and frantic. After years of being a victim, she finally snapped and took irrevocable action.

Now there's only one person can save her: The Bargainer. The mysterious six foot tall, blond and menacing King of the Night who grants his supernatural help in return for favors. Many know of him, but few dare to call on him. In the supernatural world, he rules over darkness, chaos, violence, and sex. All things that go bump in the night. In the human world, he's a man of many secrets and schemes, and willing to break any law to achieve his goals.

After Callie leaves for boarding school, we get small snippets of how these two grew close to one another and her slow progression from client to friend, to something more undefined. I really enjoyed seeing their background and how their feelings grew. He may have had darkness in him, but he genuinely cared for and protected her. Whether it was from outside forces or the memories that haunted her, he was always there when she needed him.

There's a mystery surrounding what separated them for the seven years between the past and the present. Callie grew resentful and angry at his disappearance, but it's clear from the start that now that he's back, he's not letting anything come between them.

“How did you feel, leaving me?” I ask. He holds my gaze.
“Like my soul was ripped in two.”

Callypso was a kickass heroine. I loved the fact that she was a Siren, that she held the abilities to use her feminine powers to glamour those who would seek to harm. She works as a PI with her best friend (who I absolutely loved) and gets unwilling confessions out of criminals. Evil made her a victim once and now she sought justice and retribution for those who needed her. It was this side of her that I felt matched Des really well. They both did bad things for good reasons, they had darkness in them but they weren't past redemption.

Now that Des is back, she's determined to keep her distance whatever price he asks her to pay.

I made a promise to myself after Des left my life, a promise to be independent. To not allow men like him to destroy my world. And now the very man who forced me to make that promise wants to burrow his way under my skin and into my heart once more. I’d be the worst sort of person if I broke that promise at the first sign of temptation.

The passion and long drawn out desire between these two was amazing. I loved their chemistry, their tenderness, and their passion for one another. The angst exploded off the pages and made my heart happy.

And then Des kisses me. A kiss to end all kisses. Love is another sort of subtle magic. It can bring people together and tear lives apart. It can wash away sorrow, it can forgive. It can redeem.

Des needs to utilize her special skills to coerce the changelings in his world to reveal their secrets. There's unimaginable evil wreaking havoc and she is the key to unlocking the source. The "Thief of Souls" and his children were absolutely disturbing and made my skin crawl. Callie thought she had seen the darkest depths in the human world, but nothing compared to what she now faced. Be prepared to be creeped out.

I was going to rate this book a five originally simply because of how deeply I connected to the characters and storyline. But after thinking about it, there were enough minor issues to force me to shave off a partial star. However, that did not affect my overall enjoyment. I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a fantasy book that will hold you completely engrossed and on the edge of your seat. It's sexy, mysterious, and quite the exciting ride. Stalking has immediately commenced for news on a release date for A Strange Hymn.


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