... as the review titles suggests, this book is part of a larger series that has seen better stories so far.
After the events in the last two books (Blue Moon and Obsidian Butterfly), it would seem that Anita is ready to face Jean-Caude and Richard, but that would be wrong. It seems that no one in the triumvirate is ready (with the possible exception of Jean-Claude) for the consequences of the growing power from the sharing of the marks. Shapeshifters are missing and Anita is beginning to experience side-effects of the bond she shares with Richard and Jean-Claude. Another variable is introduced in the form of another lycanthrope, a male wereleopard with a pard of his own he wishes to merge with Anita's.
The story moves the reader along as quickly as any of the other books, no failure there at all. Jean-Claude and Richard remain as contradictory as ever, a strong praise for consistant chracterization... and in any good story or drama there has to be some change, but Anita's is too dramatic. She abruptly changes from prudish to wanton, although there IS some precedent for this, the groundwork having been laid with the introduction of Richard in the first place, it seems forced. The objection that there is too much "kinky sex" has some merit... this particular book leans heavily toward the erotic end of the spectrum that LKH has skirted and touched on with the previous books. The book would be much shorter were it not for the graphic descriptions involved in the sexual encounters. Anita has been shown as stubborn, brash, blunt, and , to be fair, she HAS been shown to have strong sex appeal and a repressed sensual nature. She has crossed legal lines and is afraid of losing her 'humanity' as she perceives it, yet she forgets what got her into this end of the business... her nercromantic, or animation, HER power.
My only real issues were that I could see where most of the story was heading, and found it difficult to believe that Anita would forget such a fundamental part of herself that she would nearly allow both herself and those dear to her die before remembering what she was capable of... seeming to become so afraid of abilities she gained through the marks that she forgot what she herself brought to the triumvirate.
I conclude these remarks by stating that my rating was determined more by the conclusion of this book than the body of the book. It is NOT boring, just not as focused as previous efforts. The payoff is the information left behind that sets you up for the next books... and the feeling that we might see more of the mean old cast-iron ... we all know and love.