This review will contain spoilers, proceed at your own risk!!!
Touch of Darkness by Christina Dodd is the second book in her Darkness Chosen erotic fantasy series. I hated the first book, and would not have read the second except for having gotten them at the same time. (Believe me - they are both going straight into the donation bin!) I was surprised that this one, while still dumb, managed to be a lot better than the first. Not better enough that I will ever bother with the third or fourth (or however many more will come), but it was an improvement of sorts (not that that is saying a whole lot...).
This one deals with the second son of the family (human and hawk shapeshifter), Rurik Wilder, and his lover, Tasya Hunnicutt. At least in this one, they have already been lovers before the story begins, which is a definate improvement over the first book, where the entire unrealistic relationship between the hero and heroine grated on my nerves. And they have to work hard to find their holy object, unlike the first book where it just fell into their laps. But they still pause to have sex when being chased by evil shapeshifters who serve the devil, and in other inappropriate and downright stupid times. Come on - I know it is erotica - but does it have to be stupid????? And the part with the unexpected princess - spare me such a Mary Sue moment, please!
"Mary Sue" is a term used by science fiction and fantasy fans to denigrate extremely idealized and lucky female characters (who are often self-inserted avatars of the author, but do not need to be). A typical Mary Sue character is not only beautiful and kind and smart, but she is the best at everything she tries to be or do - whether she is the greatest warrior ever ALONG with being a scholar AND a powerful magic user AND a great musician, AND great in bed, etc. The heroine of this book does edge into Mary Sue territory, though there are many worse ones out there, especially in paranormal erotica and romance.
Speaking of which - there is a term for male Mary Sue - male Mary Sues are called Gary Stus. And Rurik is a classic Stu. Handsome, intelligent. Can turn into a hawk. Not just any fighter pilot, but the best in the whole US military. Someone who stopped terrorists from having atomic weapons. Great in bed. And when his military career is over, becomes a world class archaeologist. And he is still way too young to have spent the years of training and/or graduate school that would be required to be both a fighter pilot and an archaeologist who could be the leader of an important excavation.