Disclaimer: I suppose I should say right up front that if you have not read the 4 book series The Elemental Mysteries by Elizabeth Hunter before you read this book it will be impossible for you to have the full enjoyment of this novel. Subsequently, be aware that all opinions in this review are from someone who HAS read that masterpiece of Paranormal Literature. The correct reading order should be (it should be noted at this point that ALL of these books are 5 Star rated and not just by myself, check for yourself):
I received this book as an ARC from the author unconditionally.
Review: This novel for all practical purposes is a trilogy in one cover, it is divided into 3 "books" and each has a plot and a main thrust to it while all proceed towards a main theme which as with previous works is a masterful combination of action, romance and mystery.
Brigid Conner was rescued by vampires of Carwyn's family years ago from a horrible situation and Carwyn has watched her grow up as part of his son Ione's family, this novel covers a span of years from 1995 until summer of 2012 which probably accounts for its length. It steps over parts of the story from The Elemental Mysteries and creates concurrent stories that were happening during the time of that series and hence you feel like you are visiting with old friends while meeting new ones.
The "books" are pretty much divided along these lines and each covers a span of years. Book 1: Earth - Brigid's early life as a human and events that happened during that time. Book 2: Fire - Becoming an Immortal and the required learning and a deepening romance. Book 3: The Seal - More action, romance and getting rid of personal demons and of course solving the actual mystery.
Each has the ability to pull you into the story and make you part of it, the writing is excellent, the story has humor, action, mystery and characters that you will love. The fact that Carwyn has been close to celibate for a thousand years does leave him a bit on the low end of the learning scale when it comes to women. The struggle with faith and service is a large part of this book also and adds depth to the novel and keeps it from being "just another vampire book".
Brigid's growth is amazing and is just one more reason this is an excellent book. I read a lot of PNR type novels and many times the biggest failing I see is heroines that never grow in knowledge or become super heroes overnight, this gives a much more realistic story (again, hence the length). Brigid's growth from abused child to strong heroine is one of the best parts of this novel.
The mystery revolves around the drug Elixir which was at the crux of the previous novels; it is still being made by somebody and still killing humans and immortals alike. If I had any complaints it would be my usual complaint of needing more revenge (a personal demon of my own making) even though the ending was quite satisfying for all but the m ore blood thirsty among us (raises hand).
RATING: So without writing a book about the book I can say that once again it is a 5 Star effort, readers of Ms Hunter's previous works will be thrilled and to say I highly recommend it would be redundant.