In SOUL SONG, Marjorie M. Liu returns readers to the magical, fascinating world of Dirk & Steele a bit indirectly. M'Cal is a merman who is enslaved to a witch (much as Charlie was enslaved in "A Dream of Stone and Shadow" in the DARK DREAMERS anthology), who forces him to use his extraordinary vocal powers to steal souls with which to augment her power. His new target is renowned fiddler Kitala Bell. But instead of stealing her soul, he saves her life - and she saves his right back.
Kitala has more talent than her music, but it's not something she welcomes - she can see how people are going to die. Her grandmother, a powerful voodoo priestess, tried to teach her how to handle her powers, but Kitala wanted to live in denial, and when her grandmother died, she lost her chance to learn. Despite the fact that she does know she can't do anything to save the people she sees, when she sees a young woman with a knife in her eye in the audience of her Vancouver concert, she tries to warn her. For her pains she gets tangled up in a web of human trafficking with two corrupt cops on her tail. The only thing standing between her and them is the man who saved her, the man who fascinates her...the man who is under compulsion to kill her.
There's something absolutely heady about this love story - on the run together, knowing that at any moment, the compulsion on M'Cal might kick in and he'll end up killing the woman he's falling in love with, but Kitala trusting him all the same, a testament to the core of his honor that the witch could never touch. It's love on a knife edge, as you see often in romantic suspense, but M'Cal and Kitala connect so deeply through the music in their souls that you know once the knife edge is gone, they'll still be together. M'Cal's situation helps Kitala connect with the full source of her powers, and Kitala's trust in M'Cal enables him to wake up to his situation, to the fact that his resistance to the witch was almost gone, and gives him the courage to fight anew. Together they're stronger than they ever were alone. They trust each other, they redeem each other, and it's simply beautiful.
This series just gets better and better with each book. Though M'Cal and Kitala are not core Dirk & Steele players, I would still advise new readers to start with TIGER EYE and read the series in order -- even with having read the prior books, I had to remind myself of some of the backstory. That way you can keep up with the tightly complex world Ms. Liu is building, plus you get to read several more wonderful books - it's a win-win.