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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2011
The early release from prison of the man who murdered Eddie's sister, dredges up the past and shatters the control that Eddie has worked so hard to achieve, the control that keeps his power of fire from being a danger to others. Even in his volitile state he embarks on his next mission for Dirk & Steele, searching for a missing shapeshifter, Lyssa, who is hunted by the one of the most dangerous and fear inspiring predators in the paranormal world. When Eddie finds Lyssa, he finds a woman who has spent years in hiding, a woman with a soul as damaged as his, and the woman who stirs all of his protective instincts - the one women with whom he can go up in flames.

Though the background story does have dark moments, Within the Flames is a gentle romance that grows amidst the danger, as Lyssa is hunted and those she has reluctantly come to care for are put in danger. Eddie who has appeared, and grown up, throughout the series is a quiet, protective and yet still wonderful leading man. And in Eddie and Lyssa, author Liu has created two haunted people who are just so completely perfect for each other. In addition to the instant connection between the pair, Eddie and Lyssa, both have suffered unspeakable things at the hand of monsters (both supernatural and human), and both understand living just to survive in the aftermath, and when all is said and done, they both have experiences in which they 'see' what the other has suffered so that they are able to help each other to finally start to heal.

Even though Within the Flames can be read as a standalone, for those who have followed Dirk and Steele, there is an interesting little revelation about Eddie and there are cameos from other characters from earlier books, including a decent little subplot for past leads gargoyle Lannes and his witchy wife Lethe. (Missing though are Koni and Ricktor - I am still waiting for their books.)

So with love amidst danger and fire, Within the Flames was a great Dirk & Steele addition that has me wishing that it wasn't so long between books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2011
Within the Flames is the latest addition to the Dirk & Steel series, and it holds up to the high standards of the previous novels. I have been waiting for Eddie's story for a while now, and it's wonderful to see him shine in the lead. Lyssa is a terrific woman for him. Both characters suffer from PTSD, and it's wonderful to see them help each other come to terms with some of their issues. There is also a scary enemy that keeps the couple on their toes while they deal with their own internal problems, and the prejudices of the paranormal community.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2013
Eddie and Lannes are sent to New York city, to find and protect a young woman, a girl who can control fire, a shapeshifter, a Dragon, from the Cruor Venator. A shapeshifter has asked Dirk and Steele to protect her, and now he is dead, murdered and tortured. He gave them some of her favourite places to hang out, and an old picture. Long Nu also wants them to find her, but she won't tell why. The Cruor Venator are a truly evil kind of Witches, they steal power from blood, by killing and torturing their victims.
A girl being hunted is knowledge enough for Eddie, he will try to find her, and then protect her. His own past has come back to haunt him, and the memories are hard to live with. His own little sister died by the hand of their mothers boyfriend after she was abused for weeks. And Eddie, just a 14 year old boy back then, killed the wrong man. And now the murderer is free, out of prison again. Eddie never told his mother what he is; he just ran away from home and lived on the streets. Until Dirk and Steele found him and took him in. Now he is schooled and trained in controlling and using his powers, and he likes helping others, meeting others just as different as he is. The world is a stranger place than many people know.

His friend Lannes is a gargoyle, and especially afraid of witches after being tortured by one for centuries. But still he wants to help Eddie find this girl. And when they do see her, she flees. But it is not all that difficult for Eddie to follow her, and when she attacks him with her fire, he can withstand it, as he is fire himself as well. But the damage is enormous, and they need to get to a safe place fast. Which means Lannes' home, and there Lannes finds out there is more to Lissa than being a dragon. She is part witch as well. And part ... something else. And so he does not want her in his house anymore, even though he needs Eddies and Lissa's help in rescuing his wife from her family. They don't want to let her go home to him, as they think she married way beneath her. Of course they don't know she married a gargoyle. Talk about bad inlaws!
But going to her rescue, endangers them all, as the Cruor Venator shows up on their doorstep. But together they can fight her, and win, but they need to run now, and fast.

If I would be telling you more, I would spoil too much, and I won't do that. There are more important secondary characters in this book, and evil things happen.

Thrown together, Lissa and Eddie slowly start to share their background stories with each other, and discover they have lots in common. Of course, fire is attracted to fire as well, especially as they cannot hurt the other. Together they are a force to be reckoned with, and both are very protective of their friends, which I liked. For the first time in many years, Lissa gets to experience a bit of normal life, once she is living with Eddie, but of course that does not last long.

I am not sure I want to recommend this series. Yes, it is different and original, but it is not a fun read at all. It is a good book, a good series, very well written. But my emotions are just not very much involved in it. I think you can read it out of order, as there is not much of an overall storyline going on. I think I stopped loving this series after the sixth book or so. Of course, being a true book addict, I will probably buy the next book too, but when that one will be read?

7 stars.

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

Full review on my blog, [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
Within the Flames is a story that gives new meaning to the word "combustible"-our hero and heroine literally bursting into flames on more than one occasion-but though their separate fire-related abilities might suggest their passion is one of the instant and scorching variety, we find the exact opposite to be true. Their first encounter is a but a spark between them, each subsequent page serving as a heated breath that encourages the tiny flame to grow to greater heights, and the warmth that started in our bellies when one tortured soul recognized it's likeness in another across a crowded New York City street spreads to our extremities and eventually our hearts as we find ourselves as consumed by their relationship as they are. There's often nothing more satisfying than a love that burns slowly, one like Lyssa and Eddie's that gives us time to feel every lick of flame created by the tension, need, and fear radiating off them as their story is seared into our memory.

Lyssa, despite being one half of a romantic pair, seems to be more of the central focus of the story, a young woman with a closet full of skeletons we get to unlock with deliciously agonizing slowness as we slide it open to examine each intriguing and sometimes horrifying element of her past one bone at a time. She seems to struggle with the fact that she's capable of inflicting serious damage to those around her more than Eddie does, continually pushing him away when he seeks only to bring her closer. Though her reaction is more than understandable in the beginning, by the end her tendency to reject his strength, companionship, and mere presence out of ingrained habit to keep him safe becomes a touch tiresome, and we can't help but wish she would accept and trust him as he so clearly does her. That singular flaw doesn't hinder our enjoyment of the story overall however, as the more we know of her past the more her behavior makes sense, and our sense of kinship with her increases even as we wish she'd let Eddie past her formidable defenses.

It seems as though we don't quite get to know Eddie as well as we do Lyssa, perhaps due in part to his overwhelming need to protect this woman who knows and understands what he's been through in trying to control his fire; a desire that takes precedence over dwelling on his past. We get plenty of snippets of the painful history that has caused the scars on the man we see before us on the pages, but unlike Lyssa he's had his friends and colleagues at Dirk & Steele to help him cope over the years, creating pillars of support where Lyssa's had only abject loneliness. Though he is a bit further from our reach than Lyssa, our connection to him is still strong and thriving, and we find ourselves eternally grateful that two masters and servants of fire are able to walk from the charred remains of their pasts and into the blazing possibility of their futures.

Don't worry if you haven't read the previous books in the series, the world of the agents of Dirk & Steele is one that's easy to slip into and find a home, the characters darkly engaging and the little flashes of the history of the agency itself more than enough to have us running to the bookstores or our e-readers to start all over at the very beginning.

Rating: 4/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2011
This is not my first book from Ms. Liu but although her distinctive voice and style are the same her stories, though in a series, are individually unique in their twists and development. I enjoyed Eddie and Lyssa's story that began as a rescue to a supposedly helpless woman only to end up standing with the same woman facing the real monsters.
After losing her parents in a brutal murder during her early tens, Lyssa live on the road and off the radar and managed to keep herself just off the monster's claw. She travelled from city to city hiding in plain sight of the crowd and we met her in an underground tunnel in New York.
Eddie, on the other hand, ran away from home at twelve to escape from pain of abused and from himself. He became a survivor on the street until D&S took him in just when he was reaching legal age to drive.
Being a street kid was not just their connection but their affinity with fire. And before I end up retelling the whole story let me just say that this is another solid Ms. Liu book. Both main characters are tortured souls trying to find pear inside and out and both are fighting inner horrors and outside. Mostly fast-paced and I loved that although the heroes have the HEA, the author did not glossed some reality in life that made their HEA all the more precious.
The villains the story are new characters, new names, and either I did not read a lot paranormal stories or Ms. Liu's idea is a unique twists on an old horror character.
Aside from the repetitive inner turmoil and monologue, I enjoy watching Eddie and Lyssa pump their fists against the faces of the enemy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
#1 HALL OF FAMEon November 29, 2011
Dirk and Steele Detective Agency operative pyrokinetic Eddie nearly flamed out when he somewhat lost control of his fire. He remains shaky at his near death and at his struggle to contain his skill.

The Agency's Roland orders Eddie to go to New York to find and protect Lyssa the dragon shifter on the run from the Cruor Venator witches who she witnessed murder her parents. Eddie locates the frightened orphaned shifter in the city sewers where she has taken refuge. Though he was reluctant to take on the assignment as his talent remains unreliable and he knows to fear the powerful adversary, Eddie bonds with Lyssa over their flaming problems as orphans.

The latest Dirk and Steele Detective Agency paranormal suspense (see In the Dark of Dreams) is a great thriller due to the neurosis of the lead couple; both are PTSD sufferers. Readers will feel the danger of confronting the powerful enemy whose name denotes nightmares for victims. However, it is the tenuous mental states of the lead characters who make this super action packed story line into a profound tale.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 10, 2011
I have always loved every story that Ms. Liu has written. Every story is packed full of twisting, turning, riveting plots that keep you reading til the last page and this story doesn't disappoint! This is a must read for anyone that craves strong story lines, outstanding plots and a tinge of sex scenes. This book is about Eddie, a pyrokenic and Lyssa, a shape-shifter dragon/witch, who has no idea just how powerful she is. With Eddie's love and support, she finds herself. If your looking for a lot of sappy, sex dripping love scenes that take up 20 pages, forget it. This book has a story to tell and it does so in a mind bending, spine tingling way. This is a must read!
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on June 30, 2014
When she was twelve, Lyssa watched as her parents were murdered for their powers. Feared and cast out of the shapeshifter community because of her mother’s heritage, Lyssa has no one to turn to. In order to survive, she has been living on the streets, hiding her erratic powers, and avoiding others. However, the murder of the one person who knew what Lyssa was leads her parents’ killer straight to her. It also sends Dirk and Steele pyrokinetic, Eddie, her way.

Eddie has always had trouble controlling his powers and his most recent flameout was caused by news that his sister’s killer had been released from jail for good behavior. He wants nothing more than to hunt down her murderer, but finds himself assigned the task of protecting Lyssa. Working with the gargoyle, Lannes, he discovers that Lyssa is not the helpless little lamb they had been led to believe. Instead, he finds himself faced with a woman who everyone, Lannes included, seems to instinctively fear and hate. Soon enough, Eddie finds he's the only one willing to help Lyssa take down her parents’ killer.

Eddie has been a reoccurring character in the series since the very first book, so I was pretty thrilled to see him get his own story. He hasn’t had it very easy, with his powers constantly flaring up and almost killing him. He also didn’t have a very great childhood, growing up with an abusive step-father and then living on the streets for a little while. What I loved about this, though, was how his past experiences made it easier for him to understand where Lyssa was coming from. He was understanding of her predicament, but also knew when to push at the walls she put up around herself.

Lyssa was another of Liu’s great heroines, but I think she was also one of the most vulnerable. Don’t misunderstand when I say vulnerable for lacking backbone though. The girl has some serious guts; she just had been on her own for a long time and it shows. So, to have Eddie pop into her life and then refuse to abandon her (even with everyone saying that he should) touches and scares her to death. She’s petrified that he’ll die either by her own hand or by the person who’s hunting her.

One of the things that I really love about this series is how Liu incorporates her side characters. She never makes them flat and when she brings in main characters from past books, it’s always to serve a purpose. She did that in this one with Lannes, the hero from The Wild Road. He was a pretty prominent figure in the story, but he wasn’t exactly the good guy here, which I just loved. He had reasons behind his motivations and seeing how much he feared and hated Lyssa highlighted just how prejudiced the paranormal community is. Because seriously? Lannes is such a sweet character that seeing animosity and distrust from him was pretty shocking.

My only complaint, which really isn’t a complaint but me pouting, is that Koni didn’t make an appearance in this book. I missed the crow shifter. He’s the character that I always look forward to seeing in these books. Since Eddie got his own book I’m hoping and praying that Liu will eventually give Koni his. (Or that she'll even continue this series at all since its been almost 2 years since she wrote a book in this world.)
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on March 14, 2012
Eleventh in the Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series about the "employees" of a specialized detective agency based in San Francisco. The couple focus is on Eddie and Lyssa with most of the action occurring in New York City.

My Take
Whoa...intense. Between the paranormal action and the sadness of so many people living on the street, homeless, this was an excellent story. Liu presented their situation simply and mostly through the shared life experiences of Lyssa and Eddie.

It's a long process, getting Lyssa to accept Eddie's help. A very long process. One full of revelations and drama. The need to kill ever prevalent. Liu has a nice balance between Eddie and Lyssa. She wants to protect him while he refuses to leave; she wants to run and hide, but is fed up with the neverending hunt. He wants to run with Lyssa to protect her, but he also understands her decision to end it.

In between the large drama, Liu has filled out the story with the small dramas. Jimmy's contretemps with Mack over Icky's stealing his dinner. The encounter between Tina and her abusive husband. Eddie's anxiety over Swint's release from prison. Their encounters with Lannes...especially the dramatic back-and-forth with Lethe's witch family.

All while we learn the back history for both Eddie and Lyssa. Well done. Liu teased it out very nicely.

Too funny, asking the cab driver to wait 'cause they'll wanna leave fast. I just loved the cab driver's response when he learns it's a family reunion: "I'll buckle up". Oh, man, I do love what Lyssa did to Lethe's family! They deserved that and MORE.

A very odd courtship. But so appropriate for these two.

The Story
Eddie's control has shattered. It's been a year since he lost it so badly. But the news that his sister's murderer was released from prison for good behavior is enough to send anyone up in flames. Just not as literally as Eddie.

But there is no time for him to hunt down Malcolm Swint or to gain control over his fire power. There is a dragon shape-shifter in danger, hunted by the Cruor Venator, and only Eddie with his fire gift can find her, handle her.

Between Eddie and Lannes and the news that Jimmy brings her of the street people who are going missing, Lyssa barely needs that itch between her shoulder blades to tell her the hunters are closing in on her.

Only Lyssa has been on the run for so long that she isn't sure whom to trust. And now, she begins to realize how careless she's been.

The Characters
The Consortium is a family-run organization of beings with gifts used for power and money gained through "human trafficking and experimentation, bioterrorism, and mass murder". The a Priori is a branch of that same organization and using their gifts for material gain; I'm not sure how evil they are, but they have recently allied themselves with Dirk & Steele. Another branch of the Consortium which broke away from it sixty years ago and founded on the value of helping others and headed up by Roland.

Lyssa Andreanos is 21 now and a dragon shape-shifter whose parents were murdered by the Cruor Venator when she was 12. She's been on the run and living on the streets ever since, making her way as an artist and book illustrator. Kara Hadrada, a witch, was her mother; Allan, her father, was a dragon shifter. Estefan is/was a leopard shifter in Florida who had befriended Lyssa. A very bad idea as it turns out. Tina and Jimmy Sutabuhr are a mother and son whom Lyssa befriended and has been helping to get off the street. I do like his dog's name--Icky.

Eddie has been with Dirk and Steele for some years now. It's a relief to have backup after all those years surviving on the streets. He and Lyssa are pretty big on denying their full selves. His murdered sister was Daphne.

Lannes is a gargoyle married to Lethe, a witch (see The Wild Road: Dirk & Steele, #8). He's willing to help Eddie find Lyssa...once he's left Lethe with her family. A move he will come to regret. Even if it is to help save a girl from a coven of witches. Lethe's witch family includes Uncle Douglas who despises Lannes and wants to keep him to give to the Cruor Venator to save themselves; Morgana, Lethe's mother who intends to rip her baby out of her womb; and, Ursula Hadrada, the only one out of the eight on their side.

Serena McGillis works for the a Priori, the good half of the Consortium. Roland is broken for some reason. A psychic, he uses his gift to spot trouble ahead of time for the agency he started. But he hasn't left the house in over 10 years. Long Nu is an ancient dragon shifter allied with Dirk & Steele who sends Eddie into danger.

Albert and Mack are homeless people, neighbors of Lyssa's. Mandy and Flo are heroin addicts, homeless, and sort of friends with Lyssa. Dame Rose runs the Kosmic Klub, a hangout for the Dirk & Steele people.

The Cruor Venator is an incredibly evil being who has gained her power through drinking the blood of good people--I can see her point about not drinking from bad people, it's only bitter and nasty-tasting... Betty and Nikola are witches who serve the Cruor Venator in hopes of becoming one themselves. They delight in torturing their victims whom they kidnap through a projection of fear and drinking their blood. Malcolm Swint was scum and Eddie's mother never saw it. Not until that night the police found him.
Aaron Roacher is Tina's husband. More scum who served a greater purpose by allowing Lyssa to discover more about what a good man Eddie is.

The Cover
It's flaming all right! It's a beautifully gowned Lyssa in red leaning back in a field of red, yellow, and orange flames against a lilac sky.

The title is truly accurate for both Eddie and Lyssa are Within the Flames.
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on February 4, 2012
Eddie's life turned around when he joined the Dirk & Steele Agency. The former car thief is a pyrokinetic who sometimes still loses control of his fire. He has recently learned that the man who had killed his little sister has been released from prison. Eddie would enjoy nothing more than to crush the life from the man. But dealing with Swint will have to wait, because Eddie has an urgent assignment. Eddie must travel to New York City to find and protect Lyssa Andreanos from those who hunt her.

Lyssa is the last of her shape-shifting kind. The dragon within her sleeps, waiting for the day Lyssa kills for the first time. Lyssa has been on the run from the Cruor Venator for ten years. That was when the Cruor Venator murdered her family. The Cruor Venator are Blood Hunters. Witches who steal power from blood. Lyssa's dragon blood would give the ultimate power boost. Like Eddie, fire is Lyssa's weapon. But she refuses to give in to her dark urges. She wears long sleeves and gloves to conceal the red dragon-scales down her right arm and the golden claw where her right hand should have been.

When Eddie finds her, Lyssa wants nothing to do with him. But the stubborn and tenacious man refuses to budge. He was sent to protect her and nothing would stop him from doing so. Lyssa finally understands that after a decade of hiding, it is time to fight and die. Or fight and kill. And Eddie will do anything he has to in order to stand by her side.

**** FOUR STARS! Do not worry if you have never read a Dirk & Steele novel. The agency is only mentioned in passing. This is a stand-along story that focuses on Eddie and Lyssa. As the reader, I watched as Lyssa went from the prey to the hunter. She went from constantly hiding and depending upon no one, to letting herself trust someone (Eddie) and fighting to protect the few people that she considered friends. The author, in no way, made Lyssa sound weak. The character of Lyssa has a strong spine for the entire story. But the author did put Lyssa's back to the wall and forced her to consider ideas outside of her comfort zone.

With this story, Marjorie M. Liu proves why her name is often seen on the best seller lists. Action, suspense, drama, and magic overflow in this fast paced tale. The danger and intrigue is almost nonstop. If nothing else, I have learned that there is nothing mundane about a story written by Marjorie M. Liu. Fantastic! ****

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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