This is the Mercy Thompson book that I've been putting off. All things considered, having tackled it finally, it was about as bad as I thought it would be in the drama department with enough upside with the progression of the series to keep me sane.
Has there ever been a book in history where the ex-wife is a welcome character problem? I can not think of one. Having no desire to venture down the path of Mercy's suppressed annoyance (and perhaps jealousy) and the hurtful overtones of Adam's inability to create boundaries, I could not bring myself to get excited about reading this Mercy installment.
Christy Hauptman, Adam's ex-wife who left him for a more 'normal', i.e. non-werewolf laden type of life, calls in the middle of the night needing help and protection from a crazed and violent boyfriend... in short, she wants to come home.
On one hand, Adam, Mercy and pack have their hands full once Christy arrives, finding that this is more than a little relationship drama - Christy is badly hurt, her friend was killed and in short order, her home is burned to the ground. It's the unfortunate consequence of getting yourself involved with a vengeful and jealous volcano god.
On the other hand, what the hell is wrong with not writing a book with crazy ex-wife drama? Between Christy's multiple attempts to undermine Mercy, her clinic on manipulation and Adam's looks and placating tone, I could barely focus on Canary Island tribal legend, the return of Coyote and the walking stick and, surprise, the introduction of Mercy's half-brother. Not to mention the angry Fae who would like nothing better than to annihilate the Tri-Cities if he doesn't get his way.
Clearly, I could have done without a lot of the spectacle of domestic discourse and been happy to have explored any other story line more. The thing I commend Briggs on in her writing is her handling of her female leads... in a genre inundated with bad ass female heroines, Mercy (and more so, Anna) have a sense of stillness, a somewhat introverted nature, and the desire to make sound, contemplative decisions. There's a maturity to her heroines that I greatly admire. Sure, they can do some damage, but they're not the most powerful in the lot and they generally need a fair amount of wit and heart to win in the end. In this case though, I very much needed Mercy to stand up for herself in some of those stereotypical ways, even if it rocked pack politics.
In a nutshell, I'm glad this book is over. The urge to punch a fictional character in the face is not one I find enjoyable or healthy, and I was very much glad to get Christy as a central problem out of the way and out of this series, finally. Hopefully.