fulfilling my 2021 goal to read one book each month by an author i love that i haven’t gotten around to reading yet
to the four people who will bother reading this review:
you guys, i think i’m ready for warrick to leave toreth.
i have loved seeing their relationship grow across this series, but while toreth’s made some progress in the “being more considerate” department, and even allowed himself to become “partially domesticated,” he’s never gonna stop hurting warrick, and not (just) in the way warrick likes.
i know that a lot of his whole deal is performative, or springing from his insecurities, and when we get his POV, the inner-toreth is not as bad as the toreth he projects, and i know that he frequently says provocative/cruel shit just to get a rise out of warrick, or to get his way—that job of his sure has made him good at manipulation—but dammit, i don’t like that poor beleaguered warrick keeps quietly suffering every time toreth goes and acts like a douche. it’s no secret that toreth’s never been very good at fidelity, and for him casual stranger sex is just a thing to do after a bad day, but after all this time, AND now that they’re living together, AND after toreth realized how unhappy he was without warrick, i guess i just hoped they could be happily coupled for a minute without toreth pulling his self-destructive commitment-averse bullshit.
toreth does thoughtfully buy two extravagant prezzies for warrick in this book, both of the ‘elaborate sexual aids’ variety, and he does make one significant bedroom concession, but he’s also pretty selfish and hurtful (not [just] in that way) and why he had to drag sarah into his emotional backsliding—grrrrr.
and that’s me, caring too much about imaginary people’s feelings.
i do like that they’re getting a little older now, and toreth’s wildcatting has become a bit more subdued, and he’s sorta starting to reflect on how carnac pegged him (not like that) w/r/t what he really has to offer warrick besides his body. and oh poor carnac, still pining for warrick.
anyway, i’m hoping there’s a book ten just so warrick can have a sexxy good time with new-dom marley thomas to remind toreth that there are other lids for his pot, lids that don’t have such…unsavory aspects to their jobs.
and about those jobs—in this book, t&w are both very busy with work, and even though they are officially living together, they’re barely together on the page. not just sexually (although this volume does not feature very many sexxytimes between them), but between late-night interrogations and out-of-town conventions and family gatherings, they are frequently apart and while toreth manages a few extracurricular partnerings, much of his hometime is spent passing through the kitchen to eat warrick’s cooking or grabbing a beer.
for me, the sexxyparts of this series were never the main attraction, so this pivot away from bedroom fun to look in sharper focus at the innerworkings of the larger story around t&w in the past few books; the sabs and revolutions and crimes, o my, has been unexpectedly fascinating.
manna francis has fine-tuned this world like a boss, layering agencies within agencies, constructing bureaucracies and wrangling politics and criminal justice and corporate espionage into something so tight and detailed that it feels like a real-true place and it’s a marvel to behold. this is the ninth book in the series, and i’m hoping so hard that it’s not the last, even though it has been four years since this one came out and there’s no news on the horizon about a forthcoming book. this one feels like it’s setting up too many storylines to just abandon us now, with new characters and new dangers and, although he managed to sweet-talk his way out of a veiled threat, toreth has attracted the wrong kind of scrutiny, and that target on his back ain’t likely to go away anytime soon. the book closes with a very fragile conciliation:
“So we’re agreed where the weight of evidence lies? Toreth will be left alone?”
Turnbull waited until du Pre nodded. “Good, I’m glad we can see eye to eye on this, Cam. Obviously, if his threat level rises in the future…” She shrugged, offering the concession. “But I think it’s more than likely the Administration will want his services again. One might even go so far as to say need.”
She lifted her glass and, reluctantly, du Pre clinked her cup against it.
“What are we drinking to?” du Pre asked.
“The future.” Turnbull sipped the mellow malt. “Long may there continue to be one.”
hear, hear, turnbull!
WE WANT BOOK TEN!