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Willaful Review: Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione

Sensuality rating: Torrid, but vanilla.

Warning: there are some necessary spoilers for previous books in the series in this review. I’d highly recommend reading them in order, in any case; each book builds on the events of the previous books.

The third in the “Lords of Deliverance” series is the best story I’ve read by Ione to date.  Like the others, Lethal Rider is a hell of a ride: sexy, funny and exciting.  But it’s also poignant: the ass-kicking main characters are touchingly emotionally vulnerable, and their HEA really has to be worked for.

The story opens a significant eight and a half months after the events of Immortal Rider, in which female Aegis Guardian Regan raped Horseman of the Apocalypse Thanatos while they were both drugged.  Thanatos, who is destined to become “Death”, has been immobilized by his sibling Horsemen ever since, to prevent him from going on a bloody rampage. Meanwhile, Regan is almost ready to give birth to a son she is planning to give up for adoption, for his own good. She fully expects to die as soon as Thanatos finds her.

When Thanatos does manage to escape, he has serious plans:

First, he was going to kick Limos’s and Ares’s asses. Then he was going to have sex.

Lots and lots of sex.

Before Regan, avoiding sex hadn’t been difficult because he hadn’t known what he was missing. But now he knew and his body craved it almost as much as it craved revenge. And wasn’t revenge going to be sweet. He couldn’t decide if he was going to kill Regan or fuck her. Maybe both. Not in that order, though. He wasn’t a complete sicko.

But Thanatos’s revenge plans are thrown off kilter when he finds Regan extremely pregnant — and finds himself burning with jealousy and rage over the thought that someone else dared to touch her.  He’s then flabbergasted by the news that the baby is his: “From virgin to dad in zero to sixty.” A rageaholic cursed to be an eternal virgin, Thanatos had miserably accepted that he could never have a family.

What happens to Thanatos and Regan after that is fairly predictable in romance: he kidnaps her, says cruel things, threatens to turn her into his sex slave, yet devotes himself to her health and comfort. It may not be original, but it’s effective. Meanwhile, both begin to see the pain and vulnerabilities behind the facade each presents to the world. Regan suffers from OCD and a pervasive sense of uselessness; Thanatos is full of guilt from murdering people he loved in rages. And each has help to offer the other.

With sadness, awkward inexperience, and tenderness balancing out his supernatural powers, Thanatos is far more appealing than the standard hyper-masculized paranormal hero. His pain — and there’s a lot of it — is powerful.

As you can tell from the quotes, Lethal Rider is written in what I’ve dubbed “paranormal-speak.” I’m not in love with it, but the storytelling is so excellent in other ways that it was only a minor irritant. A much bigger annoyance was a huge plot hole left over from Immortal Rider: a character that was in deep trouble at the end of that book somehow escaped completely unscathed and we are never told how.  I felt like the concern and horror I’d felt for that character had been wasted, and that’s why I’m giving Lethal Rider 4 out of 5 stars, instead of 4 1/2. Thanks to netGalley for providing a review copy. You can pre-order it in paperback here, for Kindle here, and from Barnes and Noble here.

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