Friday, March 13, 2015

ARC Review: Cronin's Key by N.R. Walker

NYPD Detective Alec MacAidan has always been good with weird. But when an injured man gives him cryptic clues, then turns to dust in front of him, Alec's view on weird is changed forever.

Cronin, a vampire Elder, has spent the last thousand years waiting for Alec. He'd been told his fated one would be a man wielding a shield, but he didn't expect him to be human, and he certainly didn't expect that shield to be a police badge.

Both men, strong-willed and stubborn, are still learning how to cope with the push and pull of being fated, when fate throws them another curveball.

Rumors have spread quickly of turmoil in Egypt. Covens are fleeing with news of a vampire who has a talent like no other, hell-bent on unleashing the wrath of Death.

Alec and Cronin are thrown into a world of weird Alec cannot imagine. What he learned in school of ancient pharaohs and Egyptian gods was far from the truth. Instead, he finds out firsthand that history isn't always what it seems.

Dani's rating:

In the 8th century on a battlefield in Scotland, a man dies and a vampire is born. Cronin has spent nearly 1,300 years waiting for his Fated.

But when Cronin meets his mate, his One, the man is sarcastic, interrupts him, and questions everything. What’s a vampire to do?

Ailig, who goes by Alec, is a modern-day NYPD cop who watches a man turn to dust in his arms. A bullet aimed at his heart hits him in the leg instead. He is rescued from drowning by a man who vanishes.

Alec is different. And on the day he meets Cronin, he understands why.

This book takes place over the course of a few days. Cronin, who has some awesome vamp superpowers, and his closest friends, Jodis and Eiji, discover that something is brewing in the vampire world, something dark and sinister, another plague to wipe out the human population.

To save the world, they must find the Key.

I loved the mystery, suspense, and action in this story. I am not an Egyptologist by any means, but I’ve always been fascinated by history. Walker clearly did her research on the mythology of ancient Egypt, and I got a kick out of human historical events translated into vampire lore.

Even as Cronin and Alec explore their new relationship, events take a dangerous turn.

I liked the politics of the coven and was very sad about the coven’s loss at the end. This was almost brushed aside, and I felt like it deserved more page time.

The secondary characters add layers to the story: Eiji, a Japanese vampire who was turned in the 3rd century, is witty, loyal, and a big tease; Jodis, Eiji's mate, is a kind, kick-ass Nord; and Alec’s dad, Kole, is cool with Cronin being a vampire since Cronin is Scottish.

Damn right. The man has his priorities straight.

There is a long, slow burn as Alec and Cronin get to know each other. Let me rephrase that: It’s long and slow for the READERS, as the steam doesn’t come until 60 percent, but it’s still a fast leap into love for the MCs.

I’m down with that though. It’s Fate, people. FATE.

Alec pressed his lips to Cronin’s. “If it were my choice, I would choose you.
A thousand times over."


And once these boys get started, oh yeah, things get dirty, and the fangs come out.

Cronin's Key is told in a dual third-person POV, my favorite narrative style. I liked being privy to both men's (technically, vamp and man's) thoughts.

The ending is a very strong HFN. I’m not going to call it a HEA, because a plot point is left open. Alec and Cronin are SOLID, however. Their love is a forever kind of deal. But there is more to their story.

I was going to read this book no matter what. Because. It’s N.R. Walker.

But I was unsure how Walker’s sweet, contemporary style would translate into blood and biting. This book is grittier and sexier than the author's Red Dirt Heart series, but don't expect Anne Rice.These vampires are (mostly) nice. Rogues remain, though, like the power-hungry vamp in Egypt, a wannabe queen, who will do anything to possess the Key . . .

But never mind THAT.

Hey, there is BLOOD, human blood!

No, these vamps do not drink animal blood (and thank the fuck for that), but they also make ethical choices for their meals. This was actually a little disturbing, but I so prefer it to sugarcoating.

There is an edge to the story, but the tenderness and humour remain. I love Alec and Cronin. It’s going to be a long wait for book two.


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