.So, final book (for now, at least) in Mallory Crowe’s Bad Boys of the Underworld series. Oh. My. God. Where do I even start? *gets breathless and a little flustered at the thought of Lucian* Phwoo. I need to focus. Erm *fans self and clears throat* Yes, book five in this awesome series and the best book so far! In my opinion anyway. Let me begin with a quick summary.
When the local police force refuse to take Ella’s father’s disappearance seriously, she takes matters into her own hands. Brave and determined, Ella drives to where her father’s car has been abandoned and it is there that she encounters Lucian.
Lucian is no mere dog walker or hiker, though. Oh no. Lucian, in fact, is holding Ella’s father captive and he gives Ella an ultimatum; leave and never see her father again or trade places and help him uncover the answers he so desperately seeks.
Life with Lucian and his comrades, Dean and Cade, is far from quiet and yet Ella soon realizes that there’s more to Lucian than what she initially sees. Beneath his broad, muscly exterior and grumpy demeanor, lies a gentle, protective and unintentionally funny man who wants nothing more than to see his species survive and thrive.
Their days together are numbered as Lucian’s enemies close in and Lucian finds himself faced with a easy albeit painful choice; risk losing Ella to the bloodthirsty whims of his vampiric enemies or release her.
Is this the end of Lucella? Shit. No, Jazz. That’s an awful couple name. Eugh. Just stop already.
We first encounter Lucian in Mallory’s previous book, Ruling Fire (which you can read the review for here) and I took an immediate shine to him. He’s a myotis (which my brain likes to pronounce as myxomatosis), a being who takes the form of a male model during the day and a bat-like ‘monster’ at night Sure, he radiated this aura of immense power but he was just so…funny and likeable? In the scene where he accompanies Elsie in her bid to retrieve Dani, the following happens:
‘She narrowed her eyes at the beast [Lucian]. “Are your teeth longer than they were when you broke into, sorry, ‘entered’ my house?”
Lucian shrugged. “I’m trying to be extra scary,” he said with a lisp caused from his enlarged fangs.’
I think his humor is unintentional, but it’s something that other male leads have been lacking. He has natural wit and it simply adds to his charm.
So, as you can imagine, I was incredibly excited when I realized that he had his own book.
In the first chapter, we find ourselves with Ella; a woman with an eccentric scientist father and an unwanted admirer in the form of the town sheriff, Gus, who simply cannot understand why Ella doesn’t want to be with him. Sound familiar? No? OK, well, Ella also works in a bookstore (jealous, literally my dream job). Ring any bells? *waits patiently* Bam! Ding ding ding, we have a winner! Beauty and the Beast, of course. I initially expected this to be a sexy modern take on the famous tale and this concerned me greatly. I didn’t want Gus to stab Lucian in the back as they fought dramatically on the roof.
Thankfully, Gus doesn’t play a central role in the book and Lucian’s back remains unscathed. However, Lucian does hold Ella’s father captive and then force her to trade places with him, much like in the original story. This seems like a dick move, I agree but it’s a move that’s a direct result of desperation. Let Lucian explain: “We are facing extinction! Every member of the coven we lose is one step closer!” In Stealing Fire, we find out that Ella’s father, Dr Murray – a bat specialist – was conducting research on behalf of Lucian’s predecessor in the hopes of improving the myotis’ chances of reproducing. Ella is a direct result of that research and Murray seeks to protect her from them. This is Lucian’s sole reason for holding the two of them captive. He wants answers. He wants to secure a future for his people and the only way in which he can do this is to find out what exactly makes Ella different and thereby compatible with his species. As he continuously assures her, it’s not her he wants. It’s the answers she can give him.
Initially anyway. It soon becomes apparent that his affection for her is growing. This is a fact proven by two incidents, the first being his extreme reaction when Dmitri inadvertently causes Ella grave injury and the second being when he brings her Reno, a shelter dog she’d befriended prior to her ‘stay’ at Lucian’s house. My point is that Lucian means her no harm and when he brings Reno home, it becomes apparent that he doesn’t wish to cause her more discomfort than necessary. He’s not a bad guy, he’s simply doing what a good leader would do and that is protecting the well being and future of his people.
As for Ella, she’s a prime example of the Mallory leading ladies that I’ve come to love so much. Sure, Lucian does save her every now and then but damn, this woman is a badass. Even before she’s had her training with Charlie (I’ll get to that in a minute) she doesn’t just sit back and wait for a myotis to swoop in. She’s not afraid to take matters into her own hands. When Lucian’s mansion is infiltrated by rebel vampires, she uses sheer cunning to escape. She uses perfume bottles as a scent diversion while she shimmies out the window. She knows how to survive, there’s no denying that.
Now, it’s around this point that the book moves into its second half, a half that is set three years in the future. Lucian realizes that with his enemies in constant, unrelenting pursuit, Ella isn’t actually all that safe with him so after a day beneath the covers, he releases her and they both expect to never see one another again. And that’s another thing I love about this batboy. He’s not selfish. Ultimately, he puts Ella and her safety before his own needs.
But this is where the novel gets really exciting. We find out that six months after their romantic liaison, Ella gave birth to their daughter, a sweetheart named Clara. Ella is clever and understands the threat that both her and Clara’s heritage poses to their safety and consequently, she moves out of town to start a new life. During these three years, she trains with Charlie, a local gym owner, and becomes even more badass than she was originally. I mean, c’mon, she carries silver-laced mace with her. Someone give this woman a ‘Mom of the Year/Century’ award. She takes her daughter’s safety very seriously and when a vampire tries to kill her, an act that would leave her daughter alone and vulnerable, she wastes no time in slaying him then and there.
It’s this act that triggers Lucian’s arrival and he soon realizes that his Ella is the one responsible for the vampire’s death. Ella freaks out, thinking he’s going to take the miracle that is Clara away from her. Her fears are unfounded, though. Lucian steps up to the mark and embraces fatherhood. He takes Clara on little excursions, such as horse back riding in Montana and swimming and he’s just so damn cute! There’s a scene where they’re driving and Clara coughs in the back and he just looks at Ella, grinning like it’s the most beautiful music he’s ever heard.
They’re the perfect family. A powerful, protective father. A badass, vampire-slaying mother. An intelligent, teleporting daughter. I…I just can’t take it!
Obviously, they don’t just walk off into the sunset.Lucian’s enemies soon track him down but they work as a family – Lucian, Ella and Clara – alongside Dean and Dmitri to eliminate the threat. It’s no easy feat but they succeed. Each character plays a small part in a huge victory and I feel that this is a huge moral; no man/woman is an island. With friends and family by your side, great things can be achieved.
I sincerely hope that these guys get another book. There are so many questions that need answering. Will Cade recover from the trauma of his imprisonment? Will Charlie join the myotis team? Will Dmitri stop whining about unrequited love? Will Clara have to deal with embarrassing dad moments? I need to know! Mallory, if you’re reading this, please put me out my misery and give them another book!
This is the longest review I’ve written thus far but I won’t apologize for that. This book is worthy of it!
I’m giving this book a 5 out of 5 and you can find it on Amazon in paperback and e-reader format.