Series: The Edge #3
Published by Tantor Audio on November 29, 2011
Genres: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Renee Raudman
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she's determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades...
Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he's going to need Audrey's help...
I love everything by Ilona Andrews. I would probably five star their grocery list if I could get my hands on it.
In this series there is the Broken (where there is no magic), the Weird (where there is strong magic) and the border between them called the Edge where people with lesser magic can cross back and forth between those worlds.
Audrey Callahan was raised to be a grifter in the Edge but she left her family behind years ago to find a job on the right side of the law. When her father shows up with yet another “one last job” so they can send her brother to yet another rehab, Audrey agrees on the condition they forget she ever existed. But of course, nothing is that easy when it comes to the Callahans.
This last job involved breaking into a pyramid in West Egypt and stealing a powerful weapon, the Bracelets of Kul. Now the various government agencies of Weird have sent their own special forces to find that weapon before it falls into dangerous hands. So the Mirror, the Hand and the Claws of Bast are all searching and when evidence shows up leading straight to Audrey’s brother, who is conveniently locked up in a rehab center, it doesn’t take much coaxing to get the recovering addict to turn on his sister.
Kalder Mar is an agent for the Adrianglian Secret Service. He agreed to join the Mirror so that he might have an opportunity to destroy the Hand after they killed more than half of his family and also to protect those who survived. Kalder might not have been raise as a grifter like Audrey, but he has spend his own time picking a pocket or two. After Alex Callahan gives up his sister as the lock pick of their break-in, Kalder goes after Audrey to get her help to find out who purchased the stolen artifact. Audrey is none too happy about having her new life tossed away now that her brother has given her up to anyone who came asking but she understands her culpability for releasing a dangerous weapon that can be used against the people she sees as neighbors. She agrees to help Kalder if he agrees to leave her alone after she points out the purchaser. Except the longer they are together, the more Kalder is thinking of backing out of the deal and keeping Audrey as his new partner in crime.
I enjoy the narrations by Renee Raudman. She does most of the Ilona Andrews audiobooks and she has a nice range of voices to work with, especially since there are a lot of characters in this story. We are joined in this story by George and Jack, who are Rose’s brothers from the first story who are now teenagers. George’s magic is necromancy and Jack is a changeling. While they are living with Rose and Declan, the Marshall of Adrianglia, they are still treated as lowly Edgers in their fancy new school. Jack gets very angry and freaks out at a banquet when he overhears people slandering his sister Rose and he is afraid they will send him to Hawks, which is a military school for changelings. Jack and George are trying to buy time and hide out in Kalder’s transportation when his mission takes him to to California. Adding in a couple of chapters on George and Jack does slow the story down a bit since it will take us time to get back to Audrey, Kalder and his mission. While it takes us time to get to the meat of the story, Jack and George become essential to the success of the mission so it is all very important to the story arc.
I enjoyed this story. Kalder has an odd magical gift and add in the interesting use of George’s necromancy. Kalder and Audrey aren’t enthusiastic to work together but have to admit they do make a great team which of course, leads to sexual tension between the two and eventually romance. It all blends well together into an engaging story.
You could read this as a stand alone without first reading Books 1 and 2, but obviously you will have a better understanding of the other characters who pop up if you start from the beginning.
Why now? Why when everything is going so well? Am I cursed or something?
Audrey swallowed. That was fine. She was a Callahan. She would handle it.
Audrey opened the door. A man stood by the window, looking out. He wore faded jeans, tan leather work boots, and a charcoal hoodie. She could walk outside and find ten men wearing a variation of the same thing. People on the West Coast took it easy and didn’t bother with too much formality. Out here, he could by anyone: an older college student, a college professor, or the CEO of a multi-million-dollar company.
His hair was neither too long nor too short, tousled, and very dark, almost black. His shoulders were wide, his waist mostly hidden by the sweatshirt, but his butt looked like he’d spent a fair amount of time running. Hair and butt said younger than forty, shoulders said older than teens. Probably late twenties. Her entire assessment took a second.
Audrey beamed a bright, pretty-girl smile, and said, “Hi!”
The man turned.
Oh sweet Jesus.
He had a narrow, strong face, good cheekbones, and a full mouth. If she covered the top half of his face, she’d say he was a very handsome man. But his eyes, they were devil eyes. Light brown like clover honey, smart and framed in long eyelashes, the man’s eyes brimmed with wicked humor. They lit his whole face, changing him from handsome man to the kind of man any woman with a drop of sense would stay away from. He toned it down almost right away. The only reason she saw it at all was because she had caught him off guard, but it was too late. Nice try. She’d spent her life in the Edge, among con artists, thieves, and swindlers. Don’t you worry. I’ve got your number.
This man was a rogue, not because circumstances forced him to be a criminal but because he was born that way. he was probably conning his mother out of her milk the moment he could grin. He’d charm the clothes off a virgin in twenty minutes. And if the poor fool took him home, he’d drink her dad under the table, beguile her mother, charm her grandparents, and treat the girl to a night she’d never forget. In the morning, her dad would be sick with alcohol poisoning, the good silver would be missing together with the family car, and in a month, both the former virgin and her mother would be expecting.
Whatever he wanted, it was bad. She had to get the hell away from him. He wasn’t one of Alex’s junkie buddies, and he wasn’t one of her father’s “friends.” Seamus Callahan knew his limits. This man would run circles around him, and Seamus never partnered with anyone smarter than himself. Well, except for the family.
No, this man was too dangerous to be a common Edge rat. He was working for someone in the Edge or, more likely, in the Weird., and he probably wanted the box she had stolen from West Egypt. If he had found her, others would follow. They would never leave her alone, and they wouldn’t think twice about killing her.
She was finished. Her job, her life, it was all over.
The girl was beautiful.
Kalder had expected a junkie or a long-suffering victim, a woman with a haggard face, toughened by life, and bitter. He’d seen some pretty girls in his time, a lot of them in their entirety, but Audrey was in a class by herself. She was golden. Her tan skin almost glowed. Her dark eyes sparked under narrow eyebrow. Her hair, pulled away from her face, was that particular shade of dark red, more brown touched with gold rather than orange. And when she smiled at him, showing white teeth, it was infectious. He wanted to smile back and do something amusing so she would smile at him again.
She walked up to him. Big smile, wide eyes, no hesitation. Nice outfit too, professional, true, but tight enough to show off her long legs and hug her butt, and her red shirt under the jacket was cut just low enough to pull the gaze to her breasts, which were very nice to look at. He’d bet there were men in this building who spent too much time picturing themselves peeling off her clothes and pondering the color of her panties. The question was, did she know it, and if she did, how did she use it?
“Hi!” she repeated, all sunshine and roses. “My name is Audrey. How can I help you?”
Her voice was golden too–smooth with a light touch of the South. He should’ve gone for a different type of disguise, something warmer and more folksy, instead of Seattle grunge. But too late now. Either she was really good and he was in trouble, or she was an airhead, and he was unbelievably lucky.
“Hi, Audrey.” Kalder smiled back, dropping a hint of his own South into his voice as well. “My name’s Denis Morrow.”
“So nice to meet you, Denis.”
“The pleasure is all mine.”
Audrey shook, his hand, and he caught a whiff of her perfume: citrus, peaches, and sandalwood, fresh, sensual, but not overpowering.
Her fingers squeezed his for a second and slipped out of his hand. He’d expected it, but his pulse sped up all the same. She was good.
“Please sit down.”
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Kaldar sat in the wooden chair in front of her desk. She went to her desk sashaying a little, sat, and smiled at him. It was a sweet and completely innocent smile. He half expected flowers to sprout from the carpet and small birds to spring into song.
Audrey slid the top draw of her desk out. Kaldar tensed. She took a small box of Altoids out and set it on the desk. “Mints?”
Probably poisoned. “No, thank you.”
Audrey pried the box open with her slender fingers. “Sorry, I just had coffee. My breath is…phew!” she waved her hand in front of her face.
“I don’t mind. Go right ahead.”
She plucked a mint out, put it on her pink tongue, and closed her mouth. “Mmm. I love Altoids.”
Aaand his thoughts were off the map. Nicely done again. He wondered how often she’d used that little trick. He could picture a conference room full of men simultaneously shutting up to watch her eat Altoids. No sister of Alex Callahan could be a complete innocent, but he didn’t expect this.
She leaned forward, her face earnest. “So, how can I help you, Denis?”
“I’ve visited your brother,” he said, testing the waters. “Alex.”
“Alex?” her eyes went wide. “How is he? Is he okay? Did something happen?”
Her face showed genuine concern, even.
“Did he OD?”
And that was genuine fear. If he were a little less jaded, he would’ve bought it. Callahan wouldn’t be the first addict to have a persecution complex. Maybe Audrey was Daddy’s little girl, and Alex was the family’s bitter black sheep, who was lying through his teeth.
And maybe pigs would fly and rich men would grow a conscience.
“Papa said he was in a nice place. The doctors were supposed to take care of him!”
Moisture wet her eyelashes. Crying on cue. Adorable. Kalder had to say something before she teared up, or things would get messy. He held out his hand and put on a guilty smile. “Audrey, please, you misunderstood. It would break my heart to see such a lovely woman upset. Your brother’s fine.”
Audrey drew back. “That wasn’t nice. You scared me.”
Now he was a mean, rotten man, yes he was. He almost clapped.
She drew herself upright. “What is it that you would like from me, Mr. Morrow?”
Well, it was a great performance, but all good things had to come to an end. Kaldar leaned forward, and said in an intimate, quiet voice, “I want you to cut the bullshit and tell me what your daddy has done with the device you stole from West Egypt.”
She jerked her hand toward him, blindingly fast. A sharp jolt exploded in his chest, as if he had hit his funny bone, and the shock overwhelmed his whole body. Kaldar’s muscles locked. He willed himself to move, but he remained trapped in the chair, rigid like a board. The words gurgled in his mouth.
A Taser! She had Tasered him! Damn it all to hell!
Audrey slipped from behind her desk. He felt his arms yanked, and then the pain was over. His body snapped back to normal, all functions restored, and he spat the first word that popped into his mouth. “Fuck.”
Audrey slapped a piece of duct tape over his lips. He growled and lunged at her, but his arms didn’t move.
She’d zip-tied him to his chair.
He’d been had. She’d tricked him like he was a sucker. Like he was a child. The moment he got free, she would regret it. He would make her deeply regret it.