Reviewed by Tori
Blurb: Lyka Phelan is a Slayer, sent to live among her enemy to guarantee lasting peace with the Theronai. Yet she has a secret—and it could make her a slave to their power. But when a pack of Synestryn destroys her home and captures her packmates, Lyka realizes her freedom is a small price to pay for the safety of her people. So she strikes a bargain with the leader of the Theronai—one that reveals her true identity and binds her to him forever.
Joseph thought he knew better than to tangle with the beautiful, hot-blooded Lyka. One misstep could send their races straight back to war. But now he has no choice other than to help her. Forced to protect her with his life, Joseph finds himself increasingly drawn to Lyka. As they risk everything in their fight against the demons, he realizes he must convince her to surrender to him completely—otherwise she will never truly be his.
Binding Ties, #9 in Shannon K. Butcher’s Sentinel Wars, picks up a subplot from a previous installment and blasts it wide open. A urban fantasy/paranormal hybrid, Butcher expands her world building and character base while bringing a couple together in each new installment. Butcher intertwines new and past plotlines and stories to allow a smooth flowing time line and series progression. For this reason alone I recommend you start the series at the beginning.
Set on modern Earth, a raging battle reigns between good and evil is being fought right under our noses. Violence and romance go hand in hand as warriors called Sentinels (Theronai) and their allies fight to save mankind against Synestryns (demons) while struggling to locate their soul mates before they die. Add in some vampires, aliens, and what nots and you have an alternate Earth world storyline that engages and defies some boundaries.
This installment revolves around Lyka and Joseph; two characters whose story I’ve wanted for awhile. Lyka Phelan is a human Slayer (enemy to the Theronai) who was traded as a hostage in order to secure a peace treaty. A warrior all her life, she now resides in a gilded cage and resents every minute of it. She fights her bonds every second of the day, refusing to intermingle with the residents of the Theronai compound-especially its leader, Joseph.
Joseph, leader of the Theronai, spends more time behind a desk then in battle with his men. His daughter was part of the trade/peace agreement with the Slayers so he is extra careful with Lyka’s life. Though he is massively attracted between to Lyka, he knows nothing can come of it. He, like his men, is dying and only a Theronai woman can save him. When Lyka’s brother and a group of children are captured by the Synestryns, Lyka reveals a huge secret which opens the door to a whole new set of problems for her, Joseph, and the war at hand.
I wish I could say I loved this couple and the romance but I didn’t. Both are strong, loyal, intelligent people who feel their way is the best way. Compromise is not a word they seem to understand. I felt Butcher over reached on developing both characters, creating and dragging out unnecessary friction. Lyka’s stubbornness and need for independence blinds her to what’s around her. She comes off petty and juvenile at times; making stupid mistakes that almost kill them both repeatedly. Joseph, on the other hand, was so perfect, he was a caricature of the ruthless man portrayed in earlier books. Their push/pull relationship drags the story down. Though the intense chemistry is apparent from first meeting, Butcher uses a multitude of plot devices to keep them apart until the time is right for them.
The action packed scenes gave the story the edge it needed from becoming a total loss for me. Butcher takes some necessary action concerning the demons; expanding on their end game. A more in depth look at their world is given but I was dismayed a little by the path Butcher appears to be taking concerning their behavior. One aspect of this series that has kept me coming back is the gray area the different factions walk in. Every group has an agenda and each will do whatever is necessary for their group to triumph. The hints at humanization of the supernaturals is disappointing and I’m hoping it’s merely a glitch. Past character interactions and clues to future couples let us know book ten will definitely be unique. I did miss the light humor that has been a frequent asset to the series as it is always a nice buffer against the overall seriousness of this series.
The ending is the usual dramatic undertaking that resolves the main conflict and smashes through the last romance barrier. Our couple begrudgingly takes the clear shot to their HEA but I wasn’t impressed. Butcher never convinced me that Lyka and Joseph actually grew to care for one another outside the “mating bond.” While I have always enjoyed this series, I think it may be time for us to part ways. I find it becoming repetitive over all, conflicts introduced for no other reason then arc advancement, and the characters, especially the heroines, more and more unlikable.