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Alex Patton tries to live as peaceful a life as she can, but it's difficult when there are all those dead people hanging around wanting to chat. Distancing herself away from everyone seems the best thing and stops the inevitable freak out when people realise she can speak to ghosts. But then Alex is called on a secret mission by the US military to travel back in time to Ancient Briton 60 AD where, finding herself caught up in Boudica's Celtic battle against the barbaric Romans, she faces danger, heartache and the most difficult decision of her life.
I have to be honest here and say, I did have some misgivings when I started this book. I've not read much in the adult paranormal romance genre and had some pre-conceptions. Surprisingly though I thoroughly enjoyed The Avenger and found it a real page-turner from beginning to end.
The Avenger starts off with Alex, stressed, unhappy; trying to block out the ghosts she hears all the time and lonely because it's just too difficult to explain to anyone her strange gift. I liked Alex right away, she's snarky and straight talking, I loved her interactions with the ghost Andred and the fact she thinks they're all a load of gossips and nags. I love the idea of gossipy ghosts. But there's also a vulnerability to her as well that makes her approachable and interesting.
When Alex lands herself in 60 AD things really do become fascinating. Here Alex's psychic gifts aren't seen as strange at all, she's called a soul speaker and passes herself off as a priestess to the Celtic goddess, Andraste. But what begins as a rouse soon turns into a journey of self-discovery as she finds her spirituality. Old pagan beliefs and rituals fascinate me and The Avenger is full of them! Cast writes in a very atmospheric way so I became completely caught up in Alex's experiences with the Goddess and The Otherworld and absolutely believed in them.
There's also a lot of bloodthirsty action in The Avenger, with Celtic warriors battling ruthless Romans. At times it was a little gory, especially for the squeamish like me, but certainly gave some authenticity to the book. I don't know much about Boudica, but after reading this I really want to find out more and her daughter's story is truly heartbreaking. Caradoc, a mysterious and handsome druid also has a tormented and touching story and I really didn't blame Alex for her growing interest in him.
So, the romance. And the part I was most unsure about pre-reading. I'm not against a sex scene or two...although to be honest I can live without them and prefer a suggestion rather than a detailed description. Phew, are the sex scenes when they happen full on here! ...I found myself blushing profusely on the bus. But, my worries were unfounded. I was expecting this book to be all about the sex but it wasn't. It was much more fascinating story with a couple of steamy scenes, although I admit to giggling childishly at 'woman's core'. I really liked the passion between Caradoc and Alex and was pleased that it added to the story rather than overpowered it.
The Avenger isn't without its flaws. A lot of the detail about Alex's time travel is glossed over leaving huge gaping holes. The language used in Ancient Briton is unauthentic to say the least. Alex apparently has some kind of chip in her head, which translates for her, but not a lot of details are given about this. If you're the type of reader who just can't look past this kind of holes, then The Avenger is probably not for you. I looked on it the same way I do when watching DR. Who and just accept the fascinating story rather than questioning why aliens from different planets often have British dialects, or ancient Celts are responding easily to someone with a modern American accent in this case. Personally I would also have loved more historical detail, but then P.C Cast hasn't written an historical novel here and that's just my preference.
I'm really glad I was sent The Avenger for review, as I probably would never have picked it up for myself. This is the first book in Nocturne's Time Raiders series, with follow up books from other authors in the paranormal romance genre. I'll definitely be checking them out, as well as P.C Cast's other Goddess novels. The Avenger is fun, gripping, exciting, passionate, fast paced and intriguing and an incredibly easy read. Yes it's a bit cheesy at times, especially at the end, but I LOVED it! I'd recommend it to fans of the genre and also those who like me were a bit unsure, as well as older fans of Cast's House Of Night books.
Published June 2010 by Nocturne