Demons are preying on schoolchildren in her city, so Francesca Barnes does what any red-blooded librarian would do-she does some research and goes hunting. But the books she finds in a secret cache don’t tell her the whole story. Chess has no idea what she’s just stepped into or just how special she is.
Orion is Drakul, part demon, and a loyal servant of the Order. He doesn’t expect a motorcycle-riding librarian to be messing around with demonic forces, and he doesn’t expect her to smell so damn good. But Ryan’s got bigger problems. His partner has disappeared, and the forces of Darkness are rising.
Now Chess is Ryan’s only hope of finding his partner, and Ryan is Chess’s only hope of survival because the demons now know Chess exists and that she is the heir to a long-lost power that could push back their dark tide. If Ryan can keep her alive long enough, she just might be the key to destroying the demons completely.
But Ryan doesn’t know he’s been betrayed by the very Order he serves. And if Chess does, by some miracle survive, he won’t ever be able to touch her again. . .
By day, Francesca (aka Chess) Barnes is your average, ordinary head librarian. By night, Chess is your average, ordinary ass-kicking demon hunter who refuses to allow a tentacled monster thingy to continue eating the kids in her city. Clearly, Chess’s extracurricular activities aren’t really what one would call shareable material so life as a demon hunter can get a bit lonely. Orion is about to change all that.
Orion (aka Ryan) is part demon and all about protecting Chess Barnes, the not-so-subtle demon hunter who has attracted the attention of the Order. The mission was mean to be simple, get in with his partner, see what Chess has been up to, and report back to the Order. Immediately, Ryan figures out that Chess is more than she appears to be. Her apartment is warded against evil, she took out a huge demon on her own, and she doesn’t smell quite right. Getting closer to Chess is problematic for Ryan on a whole lot of levels but he is drawn to her and before he can think twice about it, his protective instincts have been triggered and it will take all of Hell to drag him away from Chess.
Meanwhile, Chess is more than a bit confused about her situation. Ryan insinuates himself into her life, he does his best to protect her but Chess is stubborn and quite new to the world of the paranormal. Chess has a hard time believing there is really a big bad chasing her down but after a few near-misses with her life, she a bit more convinced. With every near-miss and every moment he is close to her, Ryan becomes more attached and that, in his world is death sentence. The only card he has to play that may save his life, is Chess. Chess isn’t just a librarian but, a Golden, or a rare and precious type of paranormal that hasn’t been seen in 500+ years. If Ryan can convince Chess to work with the Order, he may be able to continue to serve as her protector and with any luck, her eventual lover. Have I mentioned how stubborn Chess is? Convincing her isn’t going to be easy . . . .
As events continue to steamroll toward disaster, Ryan finds it harder and harder to be apart from Chess. When the big bad finally makes their move, it is far worse than Ryan ever expected and when he is separated from Chess, it is all he can do to stay alive. Chess is so far out of her element and so new to the world she now finds herself in that she realizes Ryan is her lifeline and if she is going to survive the sh*t-storm she’s in, she’s going to have to stop pushing Ryan away. The stakes are higher than they have ever been and when push comes to shove, Chess embraces her inner badass 🙂
The Bottom Line: I’m on the fence with this read for a variety of reasons. This is my first Lilith Saintcrow read so I went into this book with no knowledge of her worlds and would have greatly benefitted from a cast of characters/description of characters section. For those who are already familiar with this author, this may not be an issue but as a newbie, I found myself a bit lost in the beginning. I am also on the fence where the characters are concerned. I liked Ryan from the beginning with his strong sense of loyalty and protectiveness. He constantly struggles with his need to protect Chess yet not violate his oath to the Order. Despite being part demon, Ryan is an honorable man. Chess, on the other hand fights just to be contrary. It took me until the very end of the read to really warm up to Chess and I only did so when she finally pulled her head out of her ass and accepted what is right in front of her. Finally, there is the unfolding of the plot that I am on the fence about as well. Though there is action throughout the read, I didn’t get truly interested in the action until the very end. Things really come together and get all kinds of interesting in the end and for the not-so-patient reader, this may just be too long of wait. I’m not done with Lilith Saintcrow just yet but if another read leaves me feeling as ambivalent as I do with this one, I may have to move on with no looking back.