This is the second book in the Mercy Thompson series. Start with Moon Called. It's a complete, self-contained episode.
It's a good plot, and the world still seems to be consistent. There's some interesting things about bravery and duty and about the tension between love and control. The stupidity of supernatural politics comments on the stupidity of real-world politics. Mostly, it's about the characters; something about the way they're evoked makes them intensely real to me. They matter to me even as I'm frustrated that they don't handle things the way I wish they would. It's not quite as good asMoon Called, but it still resonates enough to leave me thrumming.
9 out of 10.
**** PLOT SUMMARY -- MASSIVE SPOILERS ****
Stefan calls Mercy at 3 AM to ask her to accompany him on some vampire business. He's calling on a vampire who didn't ask permission from the Mistress to visit. He's bringing Mercy along as a witness, just in case, even though he expects to be able to handle what he finds. Mercy goes as a coyote, in a harness, as part of Stefan's impressive vampire getup. Littleton, the invading vampire, is far more powerful than Stefan expected. He tortures a maid to death at the hotel and fiddles with Stefan's memories so that Stefan believes he did it himself. Mercy is hurt but escapes. It turns out that Littleton is a sorcerer -- he's made a pact with a demon. Just having the sorcerer around makes people in the Tri-Cities unusually violent, plus he's killing for fun. Things are ugly. Mercy and Stefan testify to the vampire seethe what they saw, and the Mistress gives Stefan four weeks to take out the sorcerer. Stefan chooses Daniel as the vampire who will help him. Daniel was one of Stefan's menagerie, but Andre turned him to vampire. Andre and Stefan were longtime friends but this has caused serious bad blood between them. Daniel is very weak and doesn't look to be much help. Adam is worried about Mercy and insists on keeping her under guard and that she not get involved. Mercy, meanwhile, is afraid that if she gives in to her love of Adam she'll lose control of herself. Adam assigns Warren and Ben to work with Stefan. They can't find anything for a while. Then Warren ends up in a dumpster at Uncle Mike's, the fae bar, very nearly dead. With Samuel's doctoring and Kyle, Warren's boyfriend, for emotional support, they pull him through. Everyone is assuming the other three are dead. Uncle Mike tells Mercy to keep the werewolves out of it, because the demon's powers work against self control and it's bad for the werewolves. Then the Mistress calls Mercy and asks her to take out the sorcerer, with Andre to help. Zee gives her a rowan stake, a magic dagger, and a fire medallion for disposing of vampires. Littleton harasses Mercy, tearing up her trailer, but can't come in uninvited. Then Mercy discovers that Samuel and Adam both went missing that same night. She tries desperately to find them during the day, because she thinks that Littleton may have kept them alive to play with, but he won't keep them long. Toward the end of the day, Mercy finally connects the clue she'd been missing. Mrs. Hanna, the friendly ghost, has changed her routine, and Mercy realizes it's because Littleton must have set up in a location that disrupts her normal pattern. She finds the former church. Adam, Stefan, Samuel, and Ben are all imprisoned in the basement. Littleton is out, but she can't defeat the magic that imprisons them. Then Littleton returns. He dominates Andre easily and has him fight with Ben for fun. He hurts Mercy. Stefan bites Mercy and gives her a taste of his blood in return, giving her the strength to finish off Littleton. Bran shows up, just a little late because Darrel got stopped for speeding. They take Mercy to the hospital. Mercy calls in Tony, her policeman friend, to make sure Samuel doesn't get in trouble for comping in looking such a mess.
The good guys haven't won yet. Mercy knows that Andre turned Littleton; having a vampire sorcerer was a vampire plot to gain more influence. And the Mistress still likes the idea, because it could give her enough power to end her exile and go back to Italy. Andre is tried by the vampires, but not found to have actually harmed the seethe. Most of the vampires don't care about the harm to humans. Stefan does, and he's angry, but he's bound. If the werewolves kill a vampire, it will start a vampire-werewolf war. So it's up to Mercy to find and kill Andre. If the vampires find out she did it, they'll kill her in reprisal, but they won't kill anyone else. She figures out how to find vampire menageries -- look for the ghosts -- and eventually finds the right one. She kills Andre and emerges to discover that Wulfe and Stefan are there. They've killed the humans from the menagerie, and she already set the place on fire when she set fire to Andre's body. The vampires promise that they will not reveal Mercy's involvement to the Mistress.
Intertwined with this, we have Mercy's romantic life. Samuel still loves her, even though he's being very restrained about it. Adam really wants her, and she clearly wants Adam, but Adam, being Alpha, is a control freak, and Mercy has an independence fetish. Adam is trying to control his werewolf powers, but Mercy arouses him so that he can't fully, and when his powers come forward, he can dominate her. Which, he tells her, and she doesn't want to acknowledge, but realizes is true, is only because part of her actually wants Adam to dominate her. She's still not willing to give in. Samuel is almost ready to kill himself, thinking that he's losing control of his wolf, but Mercy convinces him it's only because the hospital where he was working was close to where the demon was lairing. It looks like he's decided to keep living, and he's courting Mercy gently. And finally, there's the matter of the way Stefan gave her a taste of his blood, and after they took out Andre, gave her a kiss. If she didn't have enough trouble trying to choose between two nice werewolves, now she has a vamp too.