I'm not sure how to describe this series. It's romance, but it feels like urban fantasy. And it's not urban. Far from it. The first in Andrews' "The Edge" series took place in a tiny, backwoods community and this one takes place in a swamp. Not much urban about that, is there?
So, after much thought, I've decided to call this series "contemporary fantasy". For now.
We met William in the first book of the series, "On the Edge" and I personally fell in love with him then. I was so thrilled to find out he was getting his own book and it definitely lived up to my hopes. He's a "changeling" wolf in a world that either presses changelings into military service (after a childhood of brutal training) or kills them outright. He's never had a family, longs for one and believes he can never have one.
Cerise Mar reminded me a lot of Kate Daniels. She's amazing with her blade and she heads an entire family. She's part of the "Mire" community where families feud and secrets abound. Her parents have been kidnapped by a dangerous entity, aided by the Mar's longtime enemies, the Sheerile family. The difference between Cerise and Kate is back story, including Cerise's experience with familial love that allows her to open to William and all his understandably unsteady baggage.
William and Cerise cross paths on their way to the same place. They fight together, save each others' lives a few times and fall in love.
What's amazing about this story is the richness of the world. It's something fresh and new and I read with a feeling of total immersion. New characters were introduced and I did get confused about who was who, but didn't dwell on it and it eventually became clear through the story. Just like it would if you were a guest of the Mars and meeting them for the first time.
The action is intense, the plot points exciting, heart-breaking, sweet, or all put together.
I don't know if people who don't like urban fantasy would like this, even though it's romance. I do know that UF fans should really love it, especially those of us who really do like romance in our books.
The only bad thing about it is I have to wait for the next Kate Daniels to get more Ilona Andrews. This husband/wife writing team is one of the best finds of my year.