Title: Bonds of Death
Author: Ana Bosch
Cover artist: Shobana Appavu
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Amazon: Buy Link Bonds of Death
Genre: Mystery/fantasy with horror elements/ romance
Length: 310 pages
Rating: 4.25 out of 5
A guest review by Sirius.
Summary: I still did not like Riley much, but I enjoyed this book much more than the first book in the series.
Fresh out of a messy breakup, starving artist Riley Burke has found happiness with Westwood, his new undead lover—enough happiness that when his friend Porter warns him that the undead only see humans as flashy playthings, Riley looks the other way. After all, he only wants a bit of fun. It’s not like he’s asking Westwood to put a ring on his finger.
Once a brutal and violent criminal, Westwood now atones for his past by punishing the undead for crimes against humans. But his job doesn’t make him popular with his undead brethren—and someone has a thirst for revenge.
That someone has uncovered Westwood’s weakness and is on the hunt. To withstand an attack, Westwood must bolster his strength by taking on a human worshipper. He turns to Riley, but Riley is terrified of the bond Westwood’s ritual will create. He would rather risk his life pursuing Westwood’s attacker than risk opening his soul to a man who doesn’t respect him. But time is running out, and if Riley and Westwood can’t come together, one of them might pay the ultimate price.
I reviewed the first book in this series “Art of Death” here and while I really could not stand one of the main characters and thought that the ending of the mystery was a disappointing cop out (the author giving Riley an easy way out), overall I really enjoyed the writing and decided to give the second book a chance. Overall I am really glad I did that.
I just tried to pretend that what Riley did in the first book never happened. Of course I had to employ really selective memory loss, because the book two is not a stand alone at all, and you have to remember who Westwood and Porter and Quinn are, otherwise nothing would make sense. However, I felt much better when I tried to ignore what I perceived as Riley being a selfish prick to his previous lover in book one. And whatever else Riley does in this book he certainly does not behave selfishly – he clearly loves Westwood and cares about Porter with whom they became good friends.
Now, in many ways Riley is still the same unbelievably stupid Riley, but that characterization is very consistent with what happened in book one (yes, selective memory again :)) and you come to expect it from Riley. My goodness though, Riley certainly rates very high on the list of the characters doing stupid things for me. It is not just rushing into danger because he does not know what the danger is and what can happen. Several people including Westwood tell him exactly what is going to happen and he just shruggs it off I guess? He ignores the warnings completely and that was just infuriating to me and more than once. Riley rushing into danger made a tiny bit more sense in the second part of this book, but the first half of the book I was cursing at him and repeatedly so.
I also thought that the relationship between him and Westwood was better drawn and I actually believed that they may stand a chance of surviving and being together.
I definitely liked Westwood more than I did in the first book. I could actually see that he did change somewhat from who he was to who he became and that he indeed really loved Riley, although I could clearly see it closer to the end of the book. The whole development of the relationship is still coloured very much by what kind of being Westwood is and his need to do what he thinks is best for Riley and what Riley does not think is best for him.
Please also note that there is one scene between them where I thought Westwood was extremely agressive during sex; I did not think that it was rape, but while Riley seemed to want sex at that moment, he admits to himself that he should have told Westwood that he did not want it that rough. The whole scene made perfect sense to me in the context of the story, but at least some questions of consent could be raised IMO.
Porter was my favourite character in the first book and he remained my favourite character in this book. I really really loved what the writer did with him and his journey was to me the most believable and sympathetic. I was rooting for him all the way, which is kind of funny if you have read the book.
I thought mystery was superb in this book. I was glued to the pages, I thought the pacing was lovely and I could not guess the ending for the life of me, but when the ending was revealed it was so perfect because it was so obvious, and all the clues were right there in my face even when the author was nicely exploring some wonderful red herrings. For me it was exciting, suspenseful, very well written and most importantly contrary to the first book providing some very satisfying resolutions for several characters.