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Crimson Wind by Diana Pharaoh Francis
Cover Artist: Shane Rebenschield
Review by Meagen Voss
Pocket Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416598152
Date: 28 December 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

The second book in a series is similar to a movie sequel: it can either give a story momentum or kill it. Diana Pharoh Francisí Crimson Wind has momentum, but itís not the good kind. Her attempt to recreate the gritty fast-paced storytelling of the first book resulted in a chaotic storyline packed with enough action to leave readersí heads spinning. And once they can see straight again, theyíll realize that the book is missing something--a plot.

Crimson Wind picks up where the story ended in the first book, Bitter Night. The Guardians, powerful god-like creatures that rule the magical world, are going to war against the human race. Max, a woman who was turned into a deadly Shadowblade warrior by a witch named Giselle, is rebuilding Horngate, their covenís home, after it was nearly destroyed by a pair of dueling angels. Horngate is her first priority, but Max is distracted by the fact that her family is in danger. Not to mention she owes her body to a powerful magic being she calls Scooter, and heís getting impatient. After striking a new bargain with Scooter to buy herself more time, Max takes off to save her family. Alexander, a seasoned shadowblade warrior with looks that would put male supermodels to shame, comes with her and together they fight fierce enemies as an equally fierce attraction grows between them.

At the beginning, the plot stalls like an engine refusing to turn over. Itís immediately clear that most of the characters forgot the lessons they learned in the last book: no one trusts Alexander again, Max has gone back to hating Giselle, and Max continues to pretend that she has no interest in Alexander whatsoever. Perhaps this reflects reality to a certain degree. After all, most people donít change completely overnight. Still, this sudden reversion resulted in arguments and tension that seemed to be old news regurgitated from the previous book.

The plot finally gets going when Max and Alexander leave Horngate to save Maxís family, only it felt like Francis couldnít decide exactly where she wanted them to go, which resulted in a jumbled mess of minor characters and plot tangents that whip by at lightning speed. If youíre willing to accept that the road trip is just a big excuse to give the two main characters some quality alone time away from the coven, then the overly convoluted storyline wonít bother you. Max, Alexander, and their steamy relationship are just as fantastic as they were in the first book. For readers that want more than strong characters, the constant urgency will be tiresome and the cliffhanger ending wonít be worth the trouble.

Overall, any reader who enjoys constant action, as well as erotic scenes with the intensity of a cougar orgy, would enjoy this book despite the bedlam. People who think of the TV show Charmed or Harry Potter when they think of witches would be better off avoiding this book. Fans of gritty vampire fiction, as in Anne Rice novels or the Blade movie series, would likely get a kick out of the story even though thereís no bloodsucking involved. But, like skipping a movie while itís in theaters to wait for the DVD, you might want to check this book out of the library instead of shelling out the money to buy it.

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