Shades of Wicked
By Jeaniene Frost
A Night Rebel novel
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Reviewed by Nancy
Shades of Wicked features a character who has been a reader favorite for years in a supporting role. As friend to Cat and Bones, and loyal offspring of Mencheres, Ian has been a charming rogue, sometimes generous, sometimes selfish, but always there when it counts. Now he steps to the fore in the first book of the new Night Rebel series.
When we last saw Ian, he had pledged his soul to the demon Dagon to save the life of a friend. The demon knew his friend was in no danger, but Ian didn’t. The deed was done, and Ian has been trying to escape Dagon’s hold ever since.
Vampire Law Guardian Veritas, an enforcer for the vampire council, has her own reasons for wanting Dagon dead. Figuring Ian would be the perfect bait, luring the demon but wanting him dead to save his own soul, she seeks him out for an alliance.
Although Veritas locates Ian in a brothel, interrupting his orgy, she soon learns his hedonistic rogue persona masks his dangerous nature and clever mind. Unfortunately, Ian remembers her as assisting in the execution of his friends’ daughter. He wants no part of helping her, and Veritas can’t tell him the execution wasn’t real. They quarrel, then fight until she uses an ability she isn’t supposed to have to force him to listen to her. Only Dagon’s death will free Ian and save his soul, so he agrees to work with Veritas. Both of them have abilities they shouldn’t, abilities that tend to become apparent when they fight common enemies or quarrel with each other.
Once Ian and Veritas forge an alliance, they agree to go to clubs frequented by mages, witches, and demon kin in hope someone will tell Dagon Ian is there, drawing the demon into a fight. As Ian and Veritas work together, each begins to see, and empathize with, the other’s emotional vulnerabilities. The impressions they had of each other were superficial and wrong. A bond begins to form between them, one of loyalty and sympathy at first, and then something deeper.
The verbal sparring between them is beautifully done and woven into their growing mutual attractions. Early in the story, Veritas learns Ian’s sire, Mencheres, is coming for her if Ian dies on this quest. Reluctant to fight an old friend to the death, she resolves to be sure Ian survives. As they spend time together, however, she grows to want his survival for his own sake.
Both Ian and Veritas carry deep wounds from their earlier lives. Frost depicts these in ways that are wrenching. So is their gradual, initially reluctant progress toward each other. Neither of them wants the intimacy growing between them, especially when an encounter with one of Veritas’s friends forces their relationship to a new level. Various other friends complicate their situation, each time forcing them to face their growing feelings for each other.
The characters are beautifully drawn, the story moves at a good pace, and the characters are impossible not to root for. Longtime readers of Frost’s series will enjoy seeing the hidden depths, previously only hinted at, of these characters while new readers will find themselves drawn to these complex characters and their layered, multifaceted magical world.