Reviewed by Tori
“I’ll only agree to this if you do me one favor-”
“Please give me my balls back at the end of the evening.”
Callypso (Callie) Lillis, a siren, has spent her life hiding a huge secret.The bracelet of beads running up her arm isn’t a fashion statement but an accounting of all the favors she has asked of the mysterious Bargainer. Now the time has come for her to pay him back but he has his own favor to ask. One that could set her free.
The Bargainer, a fae also known as the King of the Night, can grant you any favor your heart desires…for a price. And that price is always worth far more than the favor itself. He has always had a strong affection for Callie though he kept his distance for reasons only known to him. Now he needs her help. Now he needs her. Warriors in the Otherworld are disappearing and only the females are being returned, encased in glass coffins with a child clasped to their breast. Children that aren’t natural.
The Bargainer knows Callie can help him save his people. But they must be careful. The kidnapper collects the exotic and unique and Callie would be the perfect addition to his collection.
I picked up Rhapsodic after hearing Grace Draven (an author we love at Smexy) rave about it on Facebook. The first in a trilogy, Rhapsodic is a humorous, sexy, edgy PNR with strong fantasy and mystery elements. A compelling heroine takes command of the story from the beginning as she strives to live her life with what is essentially a ticking time bomb hanging over her head. An interesting blend of legend and mythology produces a unique story while well defined characters of various backgrounds gives depth and maneuverability for continued world building and arc development. The beginning opens in the past, introducing the main protagonists and setting up From there on the story alternates between the present and the past, balancing Callie and the Bargainer’s past history together with the start of their present.
Callie is an appealing paranormal heroine whose intelligence, wit, and inner strength makes you like her instantly. Though not a warrior, she still can handle herself just fine. As a siren she can enthrall and command people with her voice. A skill she has used to build a business with. She has friends, lovers, and a pretty good life overall. Thalassa spills her back story in the beginning and you know right away this woman is a survivor. When her choices ends up breaking her heart, she grieves but prevails. She grows up and makes a life for herself. She’s not infallible nor is she in need of saving. She doesn’t need a hero a hero anymore.
I made a promise to myself […] to be independent. To not allow men like him to destroy my world. And now the very man who forced me to make that promise wants to burrow his way under my skin and into my heart once more.
The Bargainer, Desmond Flynn, met Callie when she first called on him to help her with a difficult situation. Though he doesn’t usually bargain with minors, he makes an exception for her and from there a friendship develops. A friendship that eventually deepens to something more.
Desmond easily reminded me of the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth. Gorgeous, secretive, narcissistic, authoritarian, and manipulative. Thalassa fleshes out his character slowly, amusing and exasperating readers while she gives him and Callie time to reacquaint themselves with one another before he spills all his truths behind his leaving her for seven years. And his truths are well worth waiting for.
“Seven years is a long time to wait, especially for someone like me. A word of caution: I’m not leaving again.”
The romance is a slow burn as Callie needs to understand why Des left her and the true place she holds in his heart and life. Their chemistry burns hot and bright though the actual love scenes requires imagination. I like that Des uses some very clever means in which to have Callie pay off her IOUs. He wants her but not with the current huge power imbalance that currently exists between them.
”You have over three hundred favors to repay me. By the time we’re done, you will realize that Eli and all those other men were just a dissatisfying dream. That this, and only this, is real.”
Oh, and did I mention he’s very, very jealous?
An interesting but very small cast of secondary characters round out the storyline and help with giving Callie an anchor to the real world. I really want to know what Callie’s bestie is exactly. The mystery itself is dark, intriguing, and a bit odd. It doesn’t blend all that well with the main storyline. It comes across a little clunky and rushed. I really wish a more concrete explanation had been given. As the main conflict is resolved but the overall plotline is still ongoing, I hope more information will be forthcoming in the following books.
Rhapsodic was an unexpected surprise I can’t wait to repeat. I loved the unique premise, engaging characters, sultry romance, and the hints of what’s to come. Fans of PNR and UF will appreciate the freshness Laura Thalassa brings to the table. This reader definitely be keeping an eye on her this year.