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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Into the Flame

Into the Flame by Christine Dodd
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Meet Doug Black—the Wilder brother who’s been missing for centuries. With no idea of where he’s from, he’s become an angry young cop with the ability to transform into a cougar. in search of others like him, he comes across a beautiful woman who may hold the secret to his destiny...

This is the one I’ve been waiting for – the exciting conclusion and destruction of the pact made centuries ago between the morally corrupt and evil human males of the family Varinski and the devil.

I hoped that this story would top Into the Shadow but had no hint it would surpass my expectations as much as it did.

What a great angle – to find a man no one ever knew was missing – and connect him with a family he’s always yearned for, dreamed of, but had given up hope on. I found Officer Doug Black a wonderful contradiction in terms. He stumbles through his life and manages to become someone who protects the innocent, fights the bad guys and who stands up for what is right. How ironic that he is a Varinski-- sworn to the devil and the ultimate evil in human form. Doug has no clue.

Someone has more than a clue and that someone is Firebird Wilder. In the last book, Into the Shadow, she discovered a painful and shocking truth. In this final installment, Firebird is still reeling from the revelation. She is hurt, is furious and she has some tough decisions to make. I found it admirable and a testament to the love and sense of self which her parents, Zorana and Konstantine, instilled in her. She is a young woman who will not break. And isn’t that what we as parents want for our kids? For them to be able to stand on their own and stare down adversity and survive? Ms. Dodd captured that to perfection.

Add to that the fear and deception she’s already mired in and Firebird lands herself in the role of tortured heroine. I found her character courageous, fallible and reachable.

The prophesy ends up tying in through Firebird which amazed me. Through a person not related by blood to the Wilder/Varinski family, a normal human female is destined to do the impossible. Ms. Dodd added a mystical touch which charmed me and gave me goose bumps.

Ms. Dodd also wove the culmination of the prophecy throughout all the books and she even dropped a few hints in this story but I never put them together; until it was all over of course -- 20/20 hindsight. The author also did a nice bit of foreshadowing in this book but I still found myself pleasantly thrilled and entertained by the surprise when all was revealed.

The villains do justice to the vile Varinski name and even a minion or two gets thrown in to keep me on my toes. There is a surprise there for those readers who’ve enjoyed this series since book one.

The relationship between Doug and Firebird is fraught with very human issues -- trust and miscommunication among them. When the lovers reunite from their conflicts, it is beautiful and heart-achingly romantic.

The highlight is the much awaited showdown and what a melee it was! Brothers Jasha, Rurik and Adrik, along with their spouses, and their parents Zorana and Konstantine, come together for the day of reckoning. It is action packed and rife with suspense and grand gestures of heroism. The writing was tight and well choreographed. Expect heart palpitations as you read.

For me, this series has been a five book rating all the way and this in no less true for Into the Flame. The Darkness Chosen series is a winner from first book to the last and Ms. Dodd has garnered herself a dedicated fan.