Ashes Reborn (The Souls Of Fire book 4) by Keri Arthur (book review).

It may be understandable to think that writers might have run out of dangerous supernatural or mythical beings to give a make-over to and present them as desirable and sexy, especially those who specialise in erotic urban fantasy. After all, the urban landscape over the last decade or so has been peppered with vampires and werewolves with the odd goblin, troll and fairy thrown in. Even angels and demons have been given the good-guy treatment. Keri Arthur has found another one.

Emberly Pearson is a phoenix. Like all supernatural creations, there are checks and balances in the existence of a phoenix. In human form, she is an attractive, sexy redhead. She can become flame at will. Her life partner is Rory, another phoenix. They are friends and lovers, but not in love. Sex between them is essential if they are not to spontaneously combust and they have a special heat-proof room in their Melbourne home where they can indulge.

This is the fourth novel in the ‘Souls Of Fire’ series. Every phoenix has one chance at true love in every lifetime, but every time the relationship is doomed. For Emberly, this time around it is Sam Turner. They are estranged but have to work together on occasion. Emberly is currently a private investigator working in partnership with Jackson, a Fire Fae. In the first volume, ‘Fire Born’, a virus at the heart of a scientific experiment got loose. Its effect is to create a new, much more vicious and uncontrollable vampire. They are known as Red Cloaks and their numbers are being increased by an old regular vampire calling himself Rinaldo. To solve the problem, they have to take him out and he has so far eluded them.

At the end of the previous volume, ‘Flameout’, Rory was killed. The start of ‘Ashes Reborn’ sees Emberly going through the ritual required for Rory’s rebirth. As he is in a weakened state after this, he plays little part in the action except as a source of anxiety for Emberly. In the meantime, Rinaldo is throwing obstacles in their path and the organisation which Sam works for, PIT, that has been established to deal with supernatural incursions appears to have a mole and knows all their potential leads and is keeping one jump ahead, setting traps for them. Often they fall into them.

There is a continuing story arc throughout the series and it will continue into the next book in the series. The action is fast and furious and, whereas Emberly can use her abilities to get out of many situations, she is not infallible. While there are explicit sex scenes of an erotic nature, the book does also contain a horrific rape scene which may well make some readers uncomfortable. It is also a series where reading the books in order would be a distinct advantage.

Pauline Morgan

January 2018

(pub: Berkley, New York, 2017. 351 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US) $10.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-451-47791-0)

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