In case you haven't read Ilona Andrew's Edge series, then the premise is that there are three analogous worlds side-by-side. The Broken is the contemporary no-magic real world we live in. The Weird is a sophisticated, high-magic world with an alternate history resulting in countries like Old Gaul and the Democracy of California. Connecting the two is a patchwork of lawless, lower-magic lands called the Edge. The first two books were set mainly in the Edge in Appalachia and the Mire (Louisiana swamplands) respectively, but this one is a bit different in that the characters travel through multiple areas, mostly on the West Coast, so the setting lends a little less texture to the prose than in the other two books.
At its heart, the series is a romance series, so each book tells the story of two clever/gorgeous/talented characters falling in love despite emotional obstacles while defeating evil villains. There's some continuity provided by reusing secondary characters from the previous book for the new lead in the next book. It's a tried-and-true formula, and I like knowing that I'll get my HEA every damn time they write a new installment.
In this installment, we get on Kaldar Mar, Cerise's favorite cousin and everyone's favorite scoundrel from the Bayou Moon. He finally meets his match in Audrey, a woman who grew up in among con men, knows every trick in the book, and absolutely doesn't fall for any of them. We also have a wonderful secondary cast in Jack, George, and Gaston (and don't forget the racoon, Ling the Merciless!) as well as appearances by the main couples in the previous books. Their inclusion felt like a necessary and welcome part of the story and not "and let's see what's happening to our past characters" vignettes that sometimes romance series can fall into.
I like that each couple has a really different feel and dynamic. Declan and Rose are the boy scouts - proud and honorable and good and true. William and Cerise are the bad boys (people?) - dark and wild and deadly. And now we have Kaldar and Audrey, the grifters - sneaky and cynical and witty. Of course, since they're the leads, there is real heart under all that cleverness so they're a believable couple.
Really, the writers do everything right. Their world-building is creative and impeccably carried out. It has a scope and attention to detail usually only found in the well-wrought epic fantasies and far-future science fiction. Love it. Their characters, both primary and secondary, are distinctive and funny and likable and evolve through the book. Love them. The villains are clever and real and monstrously evil. Love them. The dialog is sharp and funny and revealing. The story is well-plotted, well-paced, and action-packed. No big twists or surprises, but hey, it's not like the book is trying to be a mystery - you know what you're going to get when you start the book, and they deliver it admirably.
If I had to point to a weakness, I'd say that in this story, there was no scene that I absolutely had to go back and reread five times in a row when I finished the book so that I could quasi-memorize it and then stage a reenactment like the "you can't handle the truth" scene in A Few Good Men. I guess I'm spoiled. In the previous books (as well as other Ilona Andrews books and stories), there's been at least one of those. This one, not so much. Then again, most books don't have scenes like that, so it's one of those high-expectation problems.
Ilona Andrews is under contract to complete one more book. I'm voting for either Richard reuniting with his lost lady love or George and Jack and Lark grow up, but whatever it is, I'll have it on autobuy as soon as it's available.
Previous books in the series: