A 3000-year-old, hunky shifter and a special woman wounded physically and emotionally make for an engrossing read. "The Fire King" is Marjorie M. Liu's latest in her 'Dirk & Steele' series and I loved it. Each of her books, at least those in this series, dig down behind the differences in her characters whether they're shifter or human and draw on the feelings and emotions that are present in each of them.
Soria is a human with something extra--the ability to understand and speak any language, as long as she is in the presence of a native speaker of that language. One year ago she suffered a horrible betrayal and lost her right arm. Since then she has barricaded herself in her apartment...until a strange pair bring her a new mission from Dirk & Steele. Imagine her surprise when her new mission turns out to be a 3000-year-old fairy tale...a chimera. The product of two different shifters, something that is supposed to be impossible. Now she and the chimera are on the run and Soria isn't sure who is friend and who is enemy.
Karr was the warlord of the shifters from a time when Egyptians and Hittites ruled. He sacrificed himself to save his people, so what is he doing alive now? And who is this woman who appears to be the only one who can understand and speak with him? Is she enemy? A spy? Again and again she appears to help him during their escape and flight...but the more Karr learns, the more unsure he becomes of who is or should be an enemy.
Liu does a wonderful job of making her paranormal characters human. She brings out their hopes, fears, happiness, and disappointments and I, for one, can't get enough of it. Each of these books can be read as a stand-alone, but each also furthers an overarching storyline that continues to evolve with each novel.
"The Fire King" has action, romance, hot sex, mystery, and magic. The story rolls out as smoothly as my favorite chocolate and the characters become people I want to know more about and want to see happy. My only real beef is that she doesn't write fast enough!