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Willaful Review: Rogue Rider by Larissa Ione

Sensuality rating: Torrid

Traditionally, the last book in a romance series is about a fascinating character that we’ve seen in the previous books and are dying to read about. In this case, there’s a twist: Reseph is someone we’ve only seen in tiny snippets and though the memories of others. One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he’s spent the last three books ruled by an inner evil, Pestilence. As Pestilence, he caused vast misery in the world and committed vicious crimes against the members of his own family — the other three horsemen, and the heroes and heroines of the previous books — in an effort to force them to join him. Which of course made me even more eager to read his story and discover who Reseph really is, and how he’s going to redeem himself and reconnect with his family.

As the story opens, the world in general is trying to recover from the plagues, wars, and demon attacks Pestilence caused, and Jillian Cardiff in particular is trying to recover from a terrible attack that left her damaged inside and out. When she rescues a gorgeous naked man she finds in the snow, all of her protective mechanisms are challenged — including the voice of experience which tells her she has very bad instincts when it comes to men.

Amnesia is the perfect set-up for this book: it gives the powerful Reseph a touch of vulnerability, frees him from crippling guilt (temporarily, of course) and exposes his true self with no filters.  Tabula rasa Reseph is natural, playful, and lovable, happiest when he’s bouncing around stark naked or having sex. I liked Jillian a lot too, perhaps because Reseph always views her as strong rather than fragile. Their relationship is hot but also supportive, believable as the catalyst for Reseph to change and take responsibility for his actions.

Characterization was the strong point in this book, and pacing the weak. The first half drags a bit; the second has more compelling storytelling, but wastes some of its angst potential.  When you have a really powerful set-up for drama and then don’t use it… well, it may be different, but it’s also disappointing. The ending is strong though, and has a great set-up for the next book — which apparently will count as part of the “Demonica” series, rather than the “Lords of Deliverance.” (It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference — they’re extremely intertwined.)

My gut instinct rating for Rogue Rider is 3 1/2 stars, even though in many ways I really liked it. If you’ve enjoyed the rest of the series, you certainly won’t want to miss it. (I also thought while reading it that it could stand alone, but another reviewer who hadn’t read the previous books was very lost.)  You can order it from Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here.

Published by Grand Central. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by netGalley

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