Monday, September 12, 2016

ARC Review: Mad Lizard Mambo (Kai Gracen, #2) by Rhys Ford

Kai Gracen has no intention of being anyone’s pawn. A pity Fate and SoCalGov have a different opinion on the matter.

Licensed Stalkers make their living hunting down monsters and dangerous criminals… and their lives are usually brief, brutal, and thankless. Despite being elfin and cursed with a nearly immortal lifespan, Kai didn’t expect to be any different. Then Ryder, the High Lord of the Southern Rise Court, arrived in San Diego, Kai’s not-so-mundane life went from mild mayhem to full-throttle chaos.

Now an official liaison between the growing Sidhe Court and the human populace, Kai is at Ryder’s beck and call for anything a High Lord might need a Stalker to do. Unfortunately for Kai, this means chasing down a flimsy rumor about an ancient lost Court somewhere in the Nevada desert—a court with powerful magics that might save Ryder—and Kai’s—people from becoming a bloody memory in their Merged world’s violent history.

The race for the elfin people’s salvation opens unwelcome windows into Kai’s murky past, and it could also slam the door on any future he might have with his own kind and Ryder.

Jewel's  rating:

Mad Lizard Mambo is the second book in Rhys Ford's Kai Gracen series. Just as good as Black Dog Blues, Mad Lizard Mambo takes us deeper into what makes Kai Gracen tick. And brings him closer to accepting Ryder. Like the first book, there is no romance here, but there are hints of a possible romance to come between Kai and Ryder, which I greatly loved, and I dearly hope that gets explored as the series progresses. And there is no steam. But the adventure! Dragons and Black Dogs and Blood Mages, oh, my! Again, the world building is vivid and rich, and wow, just wow.

Kai Gracen hides his caring soul behind grit and a prickly disposition. That really is subterfuge, though. Kai cares. Oh he says he doesn't and he threatens violence on all and sundry, but his actions speak differently. He goes to great lengths to help others. He puts nearly everyone before him (unless they are trying to kill him or someone he cares about, then all bets are off). And he tells himself that he doesn't want Ryder and that being bound to him is nothing but trouble. The truth, though? Kai is afraid of letting himself get too close. Because he thinks of himself as the monster his father created.

Ryder, Clan Sebac, Third in the House of Devon, High Lord of the Southern Rise Court (sounds rather ostentatious, doesn't it?!) wants Kai, anyway he can have him. To Ryder, Kai is beautiful and right. Kai is like that feral cat you have to slowly coax so it will let you near, and Ryder is nothing, if not patient. He knows that eventually, he will wear Kai down. Meanwhile, Ryder will do everything he can to help Kai and those he cares about. But there are other pressing matters that Ryder is concerned with. The elfin race is faced with negative growth. They are a dying race. Ryder is a deeply caring man with no small amount of responsibility. He knows that the elfin race needs to change with the times or they will never survive. And there are rumors of a lost Court that may hold the answers.

And this is where that adventure comes in. And if you're thinking that nothing ever goes to plan, well, you'd be right. It's a Black Dog eat everything kind of world and their journey is filled with peril and no small amount of blood and swearing. And I loved every moment of it.

Does Ryder find what he was looking for? Maybe, maybe not. But he and Kai do get to know each other better and by the end of the book Kai seems to even be softening where Ryder is concerned, and that makes me all kinds of happy. I dearly hope we don't have to wait too terribly long for book 3. And not because of any cliffhangers, because there wasn't one. I just want to see where Kai and Ryder go next and if Kai finally lets his guard down around Ryder.



ARC of Mad Lizard Mambo was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

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