I’ve been holding Patty Briggs’ Iron Kissed for a while, savoring the anticipation.

The first two in the series about a Coyote skinwalker Mechanic named Mercy Thompson rocked. She’s kick ass, but in a I’m-just-holding-on and you can’t intimidate me kind of way, rather than a lets-go-bash people around kind of way.

Mercy always feels things in a way that seems real to me. She regrets things, she feels sorry for people. I also like how Mercy’s upbringing in a werewolf pack makes her hypersensitive to the social dance of dominance and submissiveness among regular people, too. It’s believable and real.

In the first book Mercy tackled the werewolves. In the second book she tackled vampires, and now in the third book she takes on the fae. With disastrous results. She ends up being raped by the main bad guy. Which kind of through me for a loop. I mean, how often in urban fantasy do we get consequences of such magnitude happening to the main character?

And the rape itself is handled without graphic language. The aftermath is some of the most delicate and mesmerizing character development I’ve read in a long time. I had to read it THREE times. Not because it wasn’t clear, but because it was so good. Not only do we see Mercy working through shame and anger and sorrow, but we also get Ben, a werewolf who seemed to barely tolerate her before, risking himself in her defense as he explains what it feels like to be a survivor of abuse.

Bravo.

This leads to Mercy finally making a choice in the love triangle set up in the first two books.

My only complaint is that the Mercy Thompson tends to fade to black for the sexy parts, and I would have liked just a touch more there, and some of the the “who knew such and such happened” and “it couldn’t have been so-and-so” talk related to the murders got a little heavy near the end when really all I wanted to see was the climax of the action and romantic tangles so well set up in the beginning.

Definitely recommended. Although I heavily recommend reading the first two in order to get the full effect.

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