Review: Twilight Hunter by Kait Ballenger

 

Title: Twilight Hunter

Author: Kait Ballenger

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Hunters of the supernatural, the Execution Underground are an elite group tasked with protecting humanity…but what happens when danger collides with desire?
Jace McCannon has one loyalty: the Execution Underground. Despite his mixed blood, his hatred for the werewolves he hunts is legendary. But in his search for a sadistic killer, Jace finds himself face to face with a stunningly seductive packmaster…and longing for a night with his mortal enemy.
Nothing can stop Frankie Amato from defending her kind–or catching the rogue responsible for killing women in her territory. For that, this alpha female needs Jace’s skills more than she wants to admit. But as their investigation exposes evil truths, need burns into a passion that dare not be fulfilled. For to do so will have deadly consequences for them both…


Review:

I was trying to put my finger on why I don’t didn’t really care for Twilight Hunter, and I think I finally figured it out.  Kait Ballanger’s Execution Underground world is grim, bleak, and brutal, and it’s not one that I would want to visit.   There is nothing cutesy about the series or the characters, and there are times when the darkness caught me off guard.  This installment focuses on Jace, a half-werewolf whose abusive childhood shaped him into a cold, hard killer.  Jace hunts werewolves for a living, and every rogue werewolf has him hoping that it’s his father he’s hunting down.  He will never forgive his father for beating his mother, and worse, for walking out on them so many years before.

When a serial killer begins preying on young women, torturing, raping, and ripping them to shreds, Jace is certain that a werewolf is committing the horrible crimes.  He’s determined to stop the killer before he murders again, but he can’t catch a break in the case.  Finding Frankie at one of the murder scenes, he’s positive she has something to do with the deaths.  She’s an abomination, isn’t she? She has to be responsible for the killings, or know who the killer is.  What Jace doesn’t know is that Frankie is the leader of the local pack, and she’s on the trail of the killer, too, in part to avoid the full moon and her expected joining with her childhood friend Alejandro.  Now, she’s Jace’s captive, and if he doesn’t back off, they are going to be doing the bronto  bop when her estrus is at its height.

Mating rituals is a  component of werewolf stories that I don’t like.  It kind of takes all of the guessing out of the game if whenever that full moon looms overhead the protagonists are so compelled by their wolf that they will jump the first available prospect they see.  In this context, it gave Jace something else to beat himself up over, because he was too weak to keep himself from sleeping with a werewolf.  It also gave him another excuse to hold Frankie in contempt, because she would obviously sleep with anybody.  Sigh.

One thing that I do like about werewolves stories is the action, and there is a ton of it here.  The fighting scenes are a blast to read, and Frankie is a kick-ass heroine.  She doesn’t back down from anything or anyone,  especially when she’s defending her position in her own pack.  Not all of the members are happy that she’s their leader, and it’s a constant struggle to maintain her place.  Her parents were murdered a few years ago, and she took their place in the pack.  The altercations within the pack are no-holds barred exchanges, and only Frankie’s fighting skills and determination have kept her in charge, and still breathing.

Both Jace’s and Frankie’s pasts collide during their attempts to capture and kill the murderer.  The killer is one sick puppy, and his demise couldn’t come soon enough.  He made me uncomfortable, with his remorseless drive to inflict pain and death.  At first I was afraid that there wouldn’t be an explanation for his behavior, other than that he was a psycho (which he was, in spades), but there was rational behind his nutcase behavior.

Twilight Hunter will appeal to fans who enjoy grittier tales with a high steam factor and lots of intense action.

Review copy provided by author