Well this little thing took me 2 weeks to read! I don't really know why b'c it was paced fine & I liked it well enough but yet, I kept putting it aside & didn't feel super compelled to pick it up in my free time & finish. With that said, I liked it though. Cat & Bones are still Cat & Bones & even a bit better, thank Frost for that.
I'll admit my expectations for this book were very low. I took into consideration the fact that it's been 17 months since the last installment & the fact that I thought last 2 spin off books offered nothing but trite, romance novel fare, plot blather & weak characterizations.
I'm not going to explain the plot, chances are you know it already b'c you've read the book but I am going to compare this series to her spin-off & why I think Frost is more successful in her formula with Cat & Bones instead & why I liked this installment b'c of that fact.
Overall though, I thought it was a fun little book. The growth between Cat & Bones leaves me happy & I still love the chemistry between them. It's dynamic & I believe it. I've read some reviews where people thought he was barely in it & there wasn't enough romantic tension but I didn't feel that way. They have heat...adult, sexy heat & I feel it (ahem chapter 21).
The way Frost gives voice to Bones is still great - she can even have him utter the most saccharin lines & yet they don't come across cheesy (whereas, with Spade & Mancheres, I felt they were drawn as overly sentimental & their dialog made me cringe).
Frost's voice for Cat is also stronger, I know it's intentional b'c she is allowing Cat to grow & I think she's doing a good job.
One thing I noticed that Frost does in all of her writing is give the internal thought process of her MC's, esp. this installment.
You see Cat's thought trajectory - the questions she's asks herself & how she can immediately go from point A to conclusion which generally leads to a decision, epiphany or of some sort opinion. I was afraid when I saw Frost doing this with Cat. IMO, she failed with her 2 female leads in the spin-offs which ended up spoon feeding the readers too much & in turn made them come across like as annoyingly precocious as a 5 year old (i.e.; "why is the sky blue? Did Mancheres do that b'c he is bad? If I had Marie's blood would that mean I would absorb her powers? Why would she do that? Does she want peace? Why? Why? Why? Why?").
Thankfully, Frost curbed her urge to do this with Cat & although maybe even a little less could have been more in parts, it was fine.
I thought the humor was also pretty solid in this installment. Vlad, full stop. Ian (I miss Ian!) had one line which was snarkily spot on & made me snort-lite. Cat had a few lines throughout that made me snort chuckle - (when she told Bones that she didn't get "a case of the sluts again") & some pop culture references which surprised me & I enjoyed (the analogy comparing her powers with Marie @ the v. end). And again come the comparisons but I can help but say how Frost just seems much more fluid when writing IN the Cat & Bones world. It comes across as a much more natural extension of her rather then the "ba-dum-bump-thok!" forced punchline impacts which were in the spin-off's.
Lastly, the action & plot. Although the action didn't really happen until the end (there were parts in between but the end was where it was at), I really liked it. I thought it was clearly written & exciting. OK, it may have been helped that I was listening to Sleigh Bells on my ipod while reading it - but it worked for me.
I also liked that Frost mocked Cat's big - coulda' been really cheesy if it was supposed to be serious - speech at the end. It took the eye rolls right out of me.
Have to say, I really, really like the Marie Laveau trajectory. I think the fact that Frost had thought that out & inserted it in the over-arcing plot has been a great call. It's pretty clever & actually, for Frost - not so obvious b'c really, this has been brewing for the past few books. Not saying that Frost can't do subtle but b'c she does give the MC's internal monologue's to the reader & thoroughly enough that most times you probably have it figured out before the MC's themselves. The fact that it's almost casually thrown in there is well done. It's Nicely underplayed & insinuated into things IMO.
**END of SEMI-SPOILER**
In the end (thankfully), Frost has re-affirmed my faith in her creation.
I can now see how it's the same author who writes this world, whereas after FDOC (1st spin-off) I wondered who the hell wrote that! Frost's writing mechanic's are still the same though, it's just she has it honed it to a much finer point with Cat & Bones.
I really do believe that Frost is most in touch with Cat & Bones as a couple & their storyline then she is with Denise & Spade/ Kira & Mancheres & she should just stick with what she's best at. And On a side note - I sincerely hope that if she continues to write romance pairings with Vlad & Ian, she does them justice b'c their characters are awesome & have charm & substance to spare. Back to Cat & Bones though - they're still on their game, IMO.
In the end, I can completely understand the mixed reviews... fact is, it's been a long ass wait for a book that's essentially split into parts 1 & 2, so of course majority of expectations are hopeful & high, but it's not a bad little installment.
The characters are true to themselves & are showing growth. The world building is still being elaborated on (the politics & hierarchy) & it makes sense. The plot is good with subtle twists here & there & is interesting. Most of the secondary characters are in fine form as well as the overall humor & quintessentially fun, Cat & Bones tone which is all good. And Cat & Bones are stronger than ever, more comfortable in their relationship, who they are to one another & more in intensely in love than ever. I don't know...for me, what's not to like overall?