Dani Fayel’s backbreaking job as a stable hand at The Freaks’ Fair isn’t glamorous, but for someone looking to keep to the shadows? It’s perfect. Neither paranormal freaks nor human norms ever notice her. But when Dani is forced to either let a child die in order to maintain her anonymity or choose to save him and risk being discovered, she finds herself unwillingly thrust into the spotlight.
Cain, Hell’s premier assassin and a predatory incubus, is close to fulfilling his final contract and earning his freedom. Hired by the Archangel of Death to find his daughter, Cain follows her trail to the Fair. He works undercover, certain his mark is inside one of the portable canopies or traveling cages. Dead or alive, she equals his ticket to freedom.
When Cain’s objective is divulged, Dani realizes she can’t outrun her destiny. As the fabled Key—the one soul with absolute free will who is tied to the three realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell—only she is capable of opening the gates for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Whoever frees the Horsemen allegedly commands them. Now both Heaven and Hell are vying for her allegiance, and there are no limits as to how dirty they’ll fight to obtain it. With Hell raining indiscriminate chaos as Heaven maneuvers its players around her, Dani realizes her would-be assassin may be the only man capable of helping her survive.
In my opinion, this story could be easily broken down into a Three Act Play – each part a different genre: Urban Fantasy, Adventure Fiction and Suspense/Thriller. This is not a bad thing, but if someone asked me to classify this book, I wouldn’t say Paranormal Romance (which is what I was expecting). There is some flirty banter and opposites attracting, but this is not a love story. It is an entertaining tale of how Dani is a girl trying to be an insignificant stable hand at a carnival but is really a critical pawn in the epic battle of good vs. evil.
It begins with a modern day Freak Show with supernatural acts and crew, giving the book an Urban Fantasy feel. I really enjoyed the pace of the storytelling and how the characters are introduced. The first third of the book is my favorite: the staff of the fair is at odds & we meet Cain. Hello! Most of the groundwork regarding the plot and mystery of the Key is put in place. The second third of the book centers around Dani and Cain – but not in a forbidden love type of way. More in a tough as nails bodyguard and his rebellious charge. In Dani’s defense, there is A LOT going on, and I was every bit as confused as she was. There is a lot of action and surprises as she frequently runs from (and just as often returns to) Cain’s protection. The final third of the book introduces other characters making their play for the Key, and it feels like a suspense thriller. Archangels! Fallen angels! Demons! The Holy! Hellfire! Nothing is as it seems, and I like how the author keeps you guessing about characters’ motives and what they will do next.
Sometimes when you are reading Book One of a series, it can feel like light reading – not the case with Raising Cain. This is one epic saga – following Dani from just another day on the job to one dangerous situation after another. The ending promises more of the same to come in the next installment. It really is like nothing else I have read, and I am looking forward to seeing where the adventure leads!
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Kelli Ireland spent a decade as a name on a door in corporate America. Unexpectedly liberated by Fate’s sense of humor, she chose to carpe the diem and pursue her passion for writing. A fan of happily-ever-afters, she found she loved being the Puppet Master for the most unlikely couples. Seeing them through the best and worst of each other while helping them survive the joys and disasters of falling in love? Best. Thing. Ever.