by Christine Feehan
This is book three in the Sisters of the Heart Series, which is a spinoff from the Drake Sisters series. While it is titled after the women, and they do all live together as "sisters of the heart", really, if you are following the series, this series is about the women who will be matched up with the six remaining Prakenskii brothers. The Prakenskii family is like the male version of the Drake family in that they have magical powers and the seventh child will have seven children to pass on the magical legacy. The first book in this spinoff featured a heroine who has autism and a hero with amnesia and I adored that book, but the second book just really fell flat for me.
Ariana grew up a child prodigy and genius. She was in a government-sponsored think tank/school when her mother was tortured and murdered which caused her to quit doing the work. The government finally released her when she was 20 at which time she met the other "sisters" in group therapy. Maxim Prakenskii who seems to be closest (if you can in any way consider the Prakenskii brothers "close") to Gavril, kidnaps Ariana as a way to protect her from other people who are trying to kidnap her to use her for her incredible mind and talents. This plan naturally backfires in a big way.
The first 50 pages or so are full of awkward info dumping about the series as it has been portrayed so far and about the main characters. Stick it out though, because from there it is pretty much a nonstop action packed ride. While this particular book did not quite reach the enjoyment level of Water Bound (for me anyway, YMMV) it is head and shoulders above Spirit Bound. I really enjoyed the chemistry between these two characters. Maxim is such an adorably befuddled alpha male. He's way more caring and intuitive than he thinks. And unlike Stefan/Thomas from Spirit Bound, he actually treats his mate like a human being with thoughts and capabilities rather than like a witless child or a pet. They argue, they compromise and it is really very sweet to see. I also enjoyed the way their relationship progressed, they didn't immediately decide they would become a couple (though it was still a standard Christine Feehan destined mate thing) and they didn't immediately hop into bed together. And when they finally did get physical, it wasn't perfect and magical and real life awkwardness ensued, at least the first time, which was rather refreshing to see.
This story also really furthered the series story arc with their own super villain and how the Prakenskii brothers are being drawn in to Sea Haven and how they are and will be integrated into the family and the community as a whole. This story also marks the turning point for how the Prakenskii's are going to be integrated into the Drake family. Jackson and Elle will be coming home soon, so hopefully that conflict will be fairly quickly resolved, though honestly I can imagine that their biggest problem may not be Jackson, but Joley, despite her marriage to another Prakenskii, she isn't exactly the forgiving type.
I think what I prefer about the Sisters of the Heart series is that these women seem a lot stronger, a lot fiercer and willing to get their hands dirty than the Drake sisters. And the way they interact with each other and how much more of a "match" their mates are makes it feel more balanced to me. The relationships just feel more connected in this series. So, while I was somewhat apprehensive about this series, this book is more than enough to keep me on board, and frankly, I was worried about that after Spirit Bound. A solid 4 stars from me.