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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Body Master by C. J. Barry

Body Master by C. J. Barry
Publisher: The Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (300 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Seneca Thomas is an agent with XCEL, a secret government taskforce charged with capturing the dangerous shapeshifters that have infiltrated New York City, passing for humans. Her Native American heritage gives her a special gift-the ability to see the shapeshifters for what they are.

But when her partner is killed in the line of duty, Seneca finds herself teamed up with Max Dempsey-a shapeshifter. And when the pair discover a growing army of shifters gathering beneath the city, Seneca will have no choice but to trust the one man she shouldn't.

If readers are looking for a new reading experience that’s full of action, intrigue, amazing world building and an unlikely romance between two characters as unconventional as can be, then grab a chair and hunker down with Body Master. Ms. Barry has exploded my senses with this book.

I have to give the author credit for doing such an incredible job with world building. She made is seem effortless and convincing. Lately the word ‘shifter’ in romance pertains to wolves and the big cats but readers are about to be treated to a huge change when they start reading about Max. Max is an alien from some other planet who has to adjust to life on earth. And man, do they adjust – it’s more than attitude and custom, it’s how they appear. I was constantly astounded as to the depth of detail that Ms. Barry wove into her story. The writing was brisk, exciting and well paced. The dialogue was enjoyable and lent tension and drama when needed. There was mystery and mysticism to spice up the wonder of it all. Ms. Barry incorporated so many fascinating aspects into her characters but revealed them through the course of the story as a natural progression of events. The author didn’t dump anything on me or over-justified any of the facts. I found out when the heroine found out, I felt when the heroine felt- be it confusion, anger, fear or passion and I grew to respect each character as I got to know them.

Max, though alien, is still a male and a wonderful hero. He’s intelligent, driven, focused and fights an internal pain and anguish that he thought could never heal. Once I found out what happened to him, what he was fighting for and the scope of what he was up against, there was no way I could put this book down.

Same thing for Seneca, the heroine – she’s a spitfire and yet strangely intuitive to what is happening. Oh, she fights it and she’s darned good. She’s a woman on a mission and she thinks she knows what she needs to and her decisions are based on fact. Unfortunately for her, good for me, she faces more challenges to her belief systems, her faith in humanity and her heart. On top of that her facts are flawed with omissions. I commend Ms. Barry on creating a character I was interested in, cared for and was curious about. I also got a kick out of her special talent. It comes to play at critical moments during the story and I thought it was an awesome addition. In fact, it rates quite high on my “Very Cool!” meter.

Secondary characters abound but some of the strongest are the villains which have various degrees of nastiness. There are fatalities that occur and a couple stunned me. I know my jaw dropped a few times during the course of the book which naturally means the author took me by surprise with clever writing, misleading clues that sent me through a maze of emotions. My favorite secondary characters have to be Max’s best friend Apollo and Seneca’s Grandma. Ms. Barry was a true artist in her handling of Max’s other friend, Carl. I have to say, he was involved in one of those jaw dropping moments and I can’t even begin to tell you the number of goose bumps I got from that.

When Max and Seneca finally get past the many Herculean obstacles to their relationship, they do find love. It’s a love hard earned and fought for but I came away with the feeling that they were going to make it. Max and Seneca really do have a future but I think it’s going to be a bit bumpy. I also believe based on what I got to know of their personalities, they wouldn’t have it any other way – which cracks me up.

Body Master is a credit to the creative genius that is Ms. Barry. She was able to merge science fiction and urban fantasy with an intense romance between two characters who initially wanted no part of the other. That slow transition from distrust and hate to understanding and awareness, from believing an alien equals an enemy to instead seeing a man with the strength of character a woman could fall in love with, made this story one of the best out there. Body Master has that high quality of writing that I look for and it’s going on my keeper shelf. I had the best time reading this book and I hope other readers get a chance to find out what I found so great. This book deserves to be read.