Gena Showalter is on her A-game with this latest installment in her Alien Huntress series. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this one. I didn't exactly love Noelle in the last book. But here we get to see that there is much more to her than good looks, piles of money, and a perverse sense of humor. And Hector... (sigh)... he is my favorite kind of hero: broken, tortured, powerful and unsure. Not to mention: ripped, loyal and sexy. Yum.
I expected the book to pick where Ecstasy in Darkness left off... but it actually started about a year before the events of the last book. Noelle and her best friend Ava were just beginning their training for the Alien Investigation Removal (AIR) agency. Hector is one of the instructors there, as are his best friend Dallas and Noelle's cousin Jaxon. Right away, Hector is taken by Noelle's beauty. But she projects the image of a spoiled debutante. It's a defense mechanism she uses to keep people from seeing the real her. And slowly, Hector begins to see past the facade.
He is unbearably attracted to her, but fights his feelings tooth and nail. He can't be with any woman. When he gets angry or aroused, his hands and arms atomize, turning anything in his path to dust. The one time he tried to be intimate with someone, he killed her. And he isn't taking that chance again. At least, that's what he tells himself.
Noelle has other ideas. She wants Hector and manages to get close to him once or twice. Just enough to excite them both... and send him running for the hills. Fast forward a year, and both Hector and Noelle are AIR agents. He's been trying to avoid her all this time, but they are forced together by a case. And if things aren't complicated enough with Hector's disability, we've got Dallas thrown in the mix. He's had a vision that he and Noelle are supposed to sleep together... and another vision that Hector and Noelle are supposed to be together. If the wrong chain of events is set in motion, it could be disastrous for him. But he has no idea which path is the right one. (This thread of the storyline confused me a little. I remember his visions in the last book, but I still don't get how an "unchangeable" vision can still be wrong.)
Aside from my Dallas-induced head-scratching, I was completely besotted by this book. There was great action, as Hector and Noelle worked their case together. There was great sexual tension. And there was romance. Perhaps one of the things I liked most about the book was the fact that this was no flash in the pan, instant-love. The attraction happened right away, but the feelings developed over time.
(By the way... There was no mention of the ongoing arc involving the evil-Queen-alien turning people into cannibals.) We do have appearances by the great cast of characters we have grown to love, including Mia, Devyn, Ava, and McKell. And we see someone introduced in Awaken Me Darkly, who I didn't expect to see again. Somehow, I think Mr. Surprise will end up with his own book. One can only hope. 5 stars.