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Denied: A Novel of the Sazi
Luna Lake #3
by Cathy Clamp
Tor, $18.99 TPB, 349pp
Published: August 2018

This is urban fantasy set in the world of the Sazi.  While this author has been writing in the Sazi world since 2006, this is the third book of a new trilogy with different protagonists. See the link below for a review of the first book, “Forbidden”, the second “Illicit” and a background of this world.

At the end of the second book, Rachel and Anica were in Detroit for a tearful reunion with Rachel’s human family and the implication that they would reside there for a while, looked after by Dalvin’s shifter family.  However, when book three begins, there is no mention of Detroit at all. 

Anica and Rachel are back at Luna Lake fighting a forest fire to save the town.  They encounter a strange bear shifter injured by the fire and it almost costs their lives to save him.  He introduces himself as Tristan, just a traveler caught in the blaze but Anica begins to suspect there is much more to his story when she attempts to retrieve his lost pack.  She discovers two things:  Tristan deliberately sent her in the wrong direction to search for the lost pack, and that someone had been in the forest and attacked him.

As it turns out, Tristan is an independent enforcer that the Council calls on for particularly difficult jobs.  And this is a job more difficult than any – even more so than defeating Sargon who led the evil snakes.  This is a hunt for Sargon’s lieutenant, Lagash, who is even more dangerous and is still responsible for evil acts.  Lagash has, apparently, been residing in Luna Lake for years, secretly controlling the residents, and Tristan has to figure out which townsperson he is all while dodging the ongoing forest fire.  This is made much more complicated now that Lagash knows he has been found and is being hunted.  Although Tristan tends to work alone and likes it that way – a real “James Bond” type shifter - he finds a great deal of help in the form of the little bear, Anica.  Anica, as the main protagonist of this story, is coming into her own power and discovering depths of which she was unaware.  And she is really attracted to this new bear; so it comes as a huge shock to discover that he isn’t a bear at all – in fact, she can’t tell exactly what he is. Most of the action and story revolve around Anica and, of course, her growing passion for Tristan.  Tristan, on the other hand, is doing his level best to reject the attraction.  So there is, as usual, the requisite sex scene.  I will allow that the author handles the sex quite well; the scenes are very…evocative.

As the hunt for Lagash progresses the author does give more backstory and clears up some of the small mysteries that have been dangling since the first book, “Forbidden.” The final fight sequence is quite good and I was much more pleased with the resolution than I’d been with the previous two books.  I am still unsatisfied with the lack of resolution on the search for Alex’s sister.  I don’t like how the author left Rachel and Anica in Detroit and then magically transported them back to Luna Lake with no explanation.  And I really don’t like the lack of explanation for Lagash controlling the residents all during the time that the mayor and chief-of-police were also controlling the residents – very confusing.

However, the characters are very relatable and she handles their development well.  The plot is fine, although at times it becomes a bit circuitous.  Overall, the trilogy hung together well and is a fine representation of paranormal romance…except for the meaning of the title – never did figure that out. ~~  Catherine Book

For other books by Cathy Clamp click here

For other books in the series click here

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