Reviewed by: ?wazithinkin
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal / Espionage / Mystery
Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words
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“Upon completing her studies at Miss Havisham's School for Girls, Ms Braden earned a degree in Finance. Armed with a smattering of monetary theory and an understanding of capital markets, she invaded Los Angeles with such stealth that most of the population remains unaware that she lurks within the borders. While her lifelong dream of owning James West's train remains elusive, the underwater lair is coming along quite nicely, thank you. Do drop in. She's been looking for an excuse to test the hound's SCUBA gear.”
“QuiTai, ruthless concubine of Levapur’s mysterious crime lord, the Devil, receives an unexpected invitation to cocktails with disgraced Thampurian Kyam Zul. She doesn’t trust Kyam enough to drink anything he pours, and won’t help him no matter how hard he begs – or threatens. But when QuiTai’s ex-lover is murdered, Kyam is the only one who knows the name of the killer, and he won’t tell QuiTai unless she helps him first.
The torpid back alleyways of Levapur's tropical colony hide more than lovers. There are things with claws, beings with venomous fangs, and spies lurking in the jungle. Most of them want to keep their secrets. One wants QuiTai dead.”
Jill Braden has written an intriguing fantasy around Ponong, a Polynesian type island with a touch of Asian flair. Her world is nothing like I have ever read before. The Ponongese people are humanoid with snake like qualities, which include fangs and poisonous venom. They are ruled by the Thampurian government whose people are known as sea dragons. Since no troubled world would be complete without an evil underbelly they have a crime syndicate, which happens to be run by werewolves. However there is a new evil in town. The Ravidians, a lizard like people, are bringing mysterious shipments into the port town of Levapur.
The story is told through the eyes of QuiTai, the devil’s concubine. She is Ponongese and the brains behind the crime syndicate. She is sensual, intelligent, ruthless, and loyal to her race above all others. From her position of power she is able to manipulate the alpha werewolf, Petrof, (who is known to everyone as the Devil), for the good of her people. I really appreciated the way the Ponongese showed respect to one another in this primitive society. Despite being oppressed, they strived to keep their customs and dignity. This is where the author’s storytelling abilities really shined the brightest.
Braden’s descriptive prose about the island and its inhabitants is beautifully written, but the back story is too slowly developed. At about 36% I almost put the book aside because the story didn’t seem to be going any where. Until we met and got to know a little more about Kyam Zul, a disgraced Thampurian from the royal family, who has been exiled to Ponong. We eventually learn he is an ex-Colonel of His Majesty’s Intelligence Services. Kyam enlists QuiTai’s help to figure out what the Ravidian’s are up to. He is smart enough to realize that QuiTai knows more than she lets on and the banter between these two was very entertaining as their respect for each other grows. At one point QuiTai reflects:
The terrible thing about excruciatingly good manners was that there was absolutely no defense against them. She used that ploy against others often enough to know she’d been outmaneuvered by a master.
If you enjoy mystery, politics with hidden agendas, complex characters, and multi-layered storylines, I think you will enjoy this series. There is an interesting (although not really surprising) twist at the end of this book that will most likely draw you into reading the next of this promising series.
There is adult language contained in this book that may be offensive to some, but the sex scenes are behind closed doors, which I found a little disappointing.
I found no significant editing errors.
Rating: **** Four stars
Originally appeared on Awesome Trilogies and Series.