This was my first Sherrilyn Kenyon book so I wasn't put off by whatever inconsistencies there are between it and previous books like so many of the other reviewers. It was an engaging story with a great male protagonist that I really wanted a happy ending for so it kept me turning the pages until the end. BUT unfortunately that engaging story and awesome stud muffin hero were paired up with rather padded, repetitious and in many cases flat out contradictory story telling and a female protagonist who I couldn't stand and who never really redeemed herself even at the end.
So we've got C. I. Syn, the most gorgeous man in the universe who is kind to nuns and puppies even though the whole of existence hates his guts and never misses an opportunity to try to kill him. He's been kicked and beaten down in virtually every way imaginable by the time we meet him. His father was a famous serial killer who beat Syn and his sister regularly and even sold both their virginities to pedophiles when they were children. He's been in prison twice for crimes he didn't commit where he was tortured again by both the inmates and the guards. He had a wife and family once but she cheated on him and dumped him as soon as she found out who he was and his son promptly turned against him too. Even his own mother called the cops on him when he tried to contact her at the tender age of 12. He has literally never caught a break in his whole life despite being a great guy and all he wants is for one person to look beyond his parentage and prison record and see him for who he really is.
Unfortunately, that "one person" is supposed to be the female lead, Shahara. She's a space-aged bounty hunter and a "Seax", whatever that is, and supposedly has such a reputation for kicking butt and bringing in criminals that she makes hardened convicts quake with fear. She and Syn meet when she tries to catch him so she can collect on his extremely high bounty. This is where things pretty much go off the rails. Shahara turns out to be a complete wimp most of the time. She's afraid of practically everything. Men, the dark, dead people, heights, rats and other critters, etc. Seriously? How could a woman who's afraid of heights ever become the most badass bounty hunter in the universe? All the criminals would have to do would be to go on the second floor of a building and she'd be so paralyzed with fear that they could easily escape. It was completely lame for her to have so many hangups and it didn't jive with what her character was supposed to be. And she was worse than useless in most of the action scenarios. Occasionally she'd kick a few guys in the balls or whatever, but for the most part she was dead weight. Worse than that because on multiple occasions her stupidity got them into the fight in the first place. Again, how could the most feared bounty hunter in the world be so idiotic about avoiding pursuers?
And the issues don't stop there. She's totally hypocritical as well. She comes down on Syn like a ton of bricks because he has supposedly murdered some girl, and she never misses an opportunity to sneer at him for being a "filch" which is essentially a thief. And yet we find out later that Shahara herself killed a man in cold blood because he'd raped her years earlier and yet that's okay. And her own father was a smuggler before he died and her brother and sister are currently in the smuggling trade, yet that's okay too. Completely hypocritical that she throws stones at Syn like he's the worst kind of criminal when she or her family have also done everything Syn is accused of doing, and he was innocent of the girl's murder! Shahara really DID hunt down and kill her rapist so she's the real murderer here.
It takes ages and aaaages for Shahara to finally admit that Syn is a decent guy, even though she's seen dozens of examples of it. Her thought process usually went something like this "wow, he just did this amazingly generous thing for no reason...but people suck and you can't trust them so he must be working some angle here." Over and over again that happens. Even after hearing all the horrific details of his childhood and admitting that it was amazing he'd survived at all, she'd still turn around and call him a convict or something else equally derogatory for no reason. It was extremely tiresome to listen to.
Not to mention that as she finally starts to have feelings for him, she's holding onto a secret that she's planning to screw him over in the end. She's taken a job to find a chip that Syn stashed somewhere two decades ago and when she gets it, she's going to turn him in to the cops. Even after she admits to herself and him that she's in love with him it never occurs to her to just TELL Syn about the job so they can figure a way out of it together. Nope, she just goes on and on in her inner monologue about how guilty she'll feel when she betrays him and how much it'll hurt him. Great plan. But that's in between her continued bouts of bitchiness where she argues with Syn about the slightest little thing. She even complains about the way he keeps saving her life just because it involves going to some less than nice places. So sorry your highness but wouldn't you rather run through a sewer and live than die on a nice clean street? It just never ends with her.
I thought the ending was going to make up for a lot of Shahara's crap but she went and ruined it with her usual attitude. She betrays Syn but convinces a judge to give him a fair trial. She also held onto the chip she was supposed to turn in because it contains the confession of a presidential assassin. It saves Syn's life that she did this because he was on the brink of being executed but it also means he gets tortured again for hours and hours while they try to get him to say where the chip really is. Eventually he's acquitted and free to go but he can't forgive her for betraying him again so they go their separate ways for a few months. Finally Syn's friends come and basically say he's not a man if he lets her go so he swallows his pride and goes to her.
She has supposedly been depressed and pining away for him for months but when he shows up at her door, rather than falling to her knees and apologizing and begging him to forgive her she pulls an attitude. Suddenly deciding that if he can't say the words "I love you" then she just can't be with him. Excuse me? And when her coldness makes him turn away and almost leave, she doesn't do anything to stop him. He changes his mind on his own and despite her being a bitch to him just 10 seconds ago, he gets down on one knee and proposes.....and she gets angry because she thinks the ring he's giving her was bought for some other woman. Again, WHAT? He has to reassure her that it was bought for her and offer to show her the receipt before she finally deigns to accept his proposal. And even then she's still issuing demands, wanting to know what the C. I. initials in his name stand for, claiming she won't marry him if he doesn't tell her and when he does tell her, she laughs at him.
She definitely didn't deserve him.
Aside from those issues, the book was kind of padded with endless recitations of all the horrible things that had happened to both Syn and Shahara in their terrible lives, as well as long inner monologues from both of them re-explaining why they had trouble trusting each other. Things could have been tightened up quite a bit by removing that stuff.