If this finished the way it started I probably would have rated it higher. It was still a good read, John Matthew and Xhex made a great team and couple. Xhex surprised me the most, she kicked some ass and then some. Well deserved considering what she went through. John Matthew on the other hand took a while to grow on me and that’s for a few reasons.
The main thing that made me lose interest was the pacing. Especially the second half. The story seemed to drag on forever for (in my opinion) unnecessary reasons. Which is really frustrating & ironic because the amount of content, the airtime and focus given to the main couple in here is what I wish was given in other books that were lacking in those areas. While it started out really
strong and had me at the edge of my seat, the whole Lash thing took forever to come to a conclusion. Lash meeting his maker was a long drawn out torture which I just didn't think was necessary. Yeah he was the front-runner in this as the evil fore lesser but there was only so much of that sadistic chortling little fuck I could stand. I did enjoy seeing his whole ‘master plan’ unravel around him but honestly his ever-present smug narcissistic personality just killed it for me. So clearly by the time we got to the LONG drawn out conclusion and 'climactic' confrontation I found myself not really caring that he died or who killed him. In this case, I think some major editing would have been nice. John and the boys trying to find Xhex and get revenge was really exciting in the first half but once Xhex was found everything just came to a screeching halt for me. I'm all for a good scene of some ass kicking but really? Relying half of the book of them just strategizing, camping out at areas, talking about Lash, following lessers, talking some more
about Lash……snooze worthy and so redundant.
For what it was it was a good read. The beginning was really good had a lot of powerful scenes and moments that were intense and made me not want to put the book down. The whole desperation of looking for Xhex and trying to find her reminded me a lot of what happened to Bella. John broke my heart with how desperate he was to find her and convinced he was too late to save her. There were 2 scenes that were just gut wrenching and stood out to me. Ward did a beautiful job handling the difficult situation Xhex goes through while in the hands of Lash. I got to really know Xhex and grew to respect and admire her. She’s definitely not your typical heroine. More like anti-heroine and a hero combined. She’s very unique and I love how John was the only would who could get through to her and was her 'pyrocant'. They made quite a pair.
Now onto John Matthew. He’s an interesting character. I grew to admire him and root for him but it took a freaking while. I struggled at times with him. I was intrigued and found him sweet as a pre-trans but once he transitioned, he started to push my buttons with his complete 180 behavior. More than once he just started to act (excuse my language) like a whiny self-entitled bitch. I know it probably goes with the territory and ‘macho’ behavior while living with the rest of the brothers, but John’s flippant ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude towards anyone who tried to get him to talk or open up or talk him OUT of doing something incredibly stupid really grated my nerves. To me it came off not only self-destructive but really careless and ungrateful to those who cared for him and a little selfish. He acted like a punk and I found myself exasperated at times with this attitude. He not only was hurting himself but those around him. He was an asshole to Xhex for turning him down, shut out Tohr completely when he left without saying good-bye and put Qhuinn through the ringer more than once. Poor Qhuinn got his ass grilled more than once because John was hell-bent on his one-man suicidal mission. GMAB. John has a compassionate heart, and cares deeply, I know it and have seen it, but some of his actions and attitude could have been better. He is definitely prideful and stubborn but the whole ‘no body understands what I’ve been through’ wall he kept putting up started to get old and I found it a little petulant. I understood how it hurt his pride to talk about what happened to him when he was a pre-trans, it was a real sensitive subject but his aggressive fuck you personality made it no better for himself or anyone else. And I have to say he kept getting one too many free passes for it up until this book. My heart broke for what he went through, it was awful, traumatic and sick. I wished he could have found the guy who did that to him so he could get his own revenge and heal over what had happened. I’m really glad Z came forward and talked to him, bless that guy I love him to pieces and I love that he immediately picked up on what was going on w/ Xhex and John himself. I think it was nice that Ward continued that connection between Z and John. It was there from the beginning when John was in training and Z looked after him. And I gotta say I’m really glad Ward included some semblance of a reconnect between John and Tohr. I hated, absolutely HATED how John completely shut out Tohr when he returned. That was annoying to no end. I’m glad they worked it out, those two together make me want to cry. That father-son bond is so pivatol for both of them I don’t them to lose that relationship especially given the history between them. While he’s not my favorite, I did end up liking JM and happy that he got his shellan.
Another thing that bugged me was the zero interaction between John and Beth or Mary for that matter. Big WTF for me. Beth is his sister does Ward not remember this? Also Mary played a pivotal role in John’s life. She’s the one who found him and introduced him to the brotherhood (technically it was through a mutual friend, Bella, but still). Another missed opportunity. Pre-trans John acted like Mary hung the moon and wanted to protect her, post-trans John didn’t even bat an eye in her direction or talk to her. He mentioned her in this book once acted like they were just distant friends, someone he didn’t know. I found it depressing. I thought that was out of character and stupid to say the least. I swear the further I get into the series, the more the shellans seem to disappear and hide in broom closets. WTF? So disjointed and unrealistic in my opinion. I would have really loved to see a growing relationship between Beth and John. For them to connect and get to know each other. But it never went there. Another missed opportunity.
Another thing that left me disappointed and kind of scratching my head was the reveal about Darius. It never happened. Readers by now know who JM really is and here we are introduced to a whole bunch of flashbacks from Darius's life back in the day. Now I was assuming it was intended to lead up to a 'ta da' reveal at the end which didn't happen which leaves me wondering what was the point or was that just to solely show the history of certain characters and the parallels drawn.