Book Review: Within the Flames

Dirk & Steele operative Eddie has just begun to regain the hard won control over his pyrokinetic abilities, control that was stripped away during his last assignment. Shaken and barely able to keep his inner fires contained, Eddie is sent to New York in order to locate and protect a gifted young woman who is the target of a concerted hunt. If the Cruor Venator, a small group of ultra powerful witches who practice blood magic, find Lyssa before Eddie, she will be slowly drained of life while their leader absorbs power from the dragon shapeshifter.

Lyssa carefully created a life for herself working with a publisher via the internet while living in an abandoned subway tunnel below the bustle of Manhattan, all to avoid those who killed her mother. Seeing Eddie, the same man she had seen in dreams threw Lyssa for a loop but discovering the Cruor Venator finally discovered her whereabouts was an unwelcome shock. Given her short list of options, Lyssa has little choice but to grudgingly accept Eddie’s assistance to protect herself and those closest to her. As flames of passion build between Eddie and Lyssa, they must struggle with emotional baggage and a soul-deep darkness that could devour her.

With the assorted past abuse and trauma suffered by the two protagonists, it is no surprise they have serious issues and these play key roles in the storyline. Although the stage is set for a couple of potentially riveting major throw-downs, they fall short of the dramatic buildup. Liu maintains a brisk pace while effectively developing Eddie and Lyssa’s romance and making the Cruor Venator evil enough to be convincing adversaries. Overall, this is another strong addition to the Dirk & Steele series that can be enjoyed without reading previous titles first though you’ll likely find yourself searching them out when you’re done.

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