Night Broken (Mercy Thompson)
by Patricia Briggs
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425256749
Date: 11 March 2014 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mercy Thompson Hauptman is settling into being Adam Hauptman's wife as well as his mate. Since Adam is the local pack's alpha, the mate part of their relationship has bonds connecting her to him -- and his power as alpha -- as well as to every wolf in the pack. Mercy is a walker rather than a shifter, and some in the pack don't like her very much, if at all. So, she's been walking a tightrope to maintain her place in the pack as dominate and yet reach out to them individually to get to know them. Fighting beside the pack has won her grudging respect, but now everything is at risk -- she can't afford to lose this battle, but she's can't use her usual tactics either.
Adam's ex-wife, Christy, wants to return because she's afraid of a stalker who has threatened and beaten her, and might have killed a man she recently dated. As alpha, Adam is strongly disposed to help those weaker than himself -- plus, she's the mother of his child, Jessie. There were other pack members there when Christy called -- several of them good friends of Christy. Mercy felt she had to agreed to allow his ex to move in with them until things were sorted out.
The next thing Mercy knows, Christy has moved into the room next to the master suite and is acting like the house is hers. She's cooking meals and inviting friends over and is oh, so scared, which pushes all of Adam's buttons. Christy also has a superpower -- she's a manipulator extraordinaire. But she does indeed have a stalker. Mercy has a feeling there's more to Christy's story.
Mercy is now fighting to save her place in the pack as Christy manipulates the feelings of the pack to get her way. Jessie is upset because while she loves her mother she doesn't like her much and can't understand why Mercy isn't asserting her dominance.
There's more going on than just a stalker, or an ex-wife who wants to get her husband back, even if it takes breaking up his current marriage to do it. So amidst family, extended family, and pack politics, loyalties, and emotions, Mercy is also faced with the need to return an artifact she doesn't have to an elf who has given her a deadline, or else he may just have to destroy the tri-city area. But not to worry, if she's lucky, the demented supernatural power on a killing spree in the area might kill her first.
As usual, Briggs keeps the tension high, the action believable within the world she's created, and the characters three-dimensional. The balance between the battle to save her marriage and keep the pack cohesive and safe while protecting those she loves makes Mercy a character that I enjoy spending time with whenever I get a new entry in the series.
If you haven't read any of the previous books, I'd advise you to start with the first in the series. If you want, you can dive into this one, but you'll enjoy it so much more if you have the background of the characters and the world they live in; but, even without the previous books, you'll still get a lot from the narrative to fill in the blanks. Mercy is a strong, intelligent, compete woman in a world much like our own that's dealing with its prejudices, fears, and the newly revealed existence of elves, werewolves, and magic users added to the mix -- and we know there are others who still haven't revealed themselves.
The downside is that now we have to wait for the next book.