These Judah Black novels are some of my favorite paranormal fantasy ones right now. They follow the eponymous Judah Black, a federal paranormal enforcement/regulatory/investigative agent who lives and works on the paranormal reservation of Paint Rock in Concho County, Texas. She has a "real" job and a son, and now she even has a boyfriend--the werewolf Sal, who lives next door and is part of the local pack, and who Judah kissed in the last book, which I guess makes him her boyfriend even though they never actually discussed anything or went out and just kissed once during a fight? I dunno, that seemed kind of strange--I love some romance in a book, but there seemed to be a leap here that didn't really connect properly.
Anyway. this book picks up immediately after the last one. Judah is told by local vampire higher-up Marcus Kelley to investigate a paranormal illness plaguing a toddler--said toddler being the daughter of wendigo Zoe, featured in the first book. And it turns out that the little girl's father isn't another wendigo, as Judah had thought, but Sal--because Zoe is Sal's ex-wife. Oh boy... She wants to tell Sal, but also doesn't, because it's kind of Judah's fault (a little) that this situation happened, and she's afraid that it'll drive him away. Meanwhile, she also tries to balance her new relationship with Sal with his involvement in a biker club of questionable legality and with her son Hunter.
While Hunter was an integral part of the first book, he continues to be shoved aside in this one, constantly left with minor side characters or even stuck in a hospital room, unconscious. Though Judah is a busy woman, it does rather feel like Copen didn't know what to do with a kid in this situation, so she just sidelined him. How Hunter was actually a character in the first book was one of its big draws to me, so I'm extra disappointed to see the sidelining of the second book continued here.
The plot itself also wasn't as compelling to me. Copen used this as a "relationship" book, and it felt like that came at the expense of a strong central plot, which doesn't have to be the case--you really can have both! But the main plot and the "big bad" here seemed, for the most part, pretty apparent from the beginning. There were a few minor surprises that popped up, but nothing that really made my jaw drop or made me re-examine other parts of the book. It was more like, "Ah, yes," moments, than "Aha!" moments, if that makes any sense. I did, however, like the integration of the spirit world and how Marcus and his family played into the plot here. It made him much more "human," for a vampire, and also gave me a much better understanding of how vampires work in Copen's world. So that was very well done.
Overall, I liked this, but not as much as the previous books. I do think that, now that Copen's got some of the relationship stuff out of the way (I say relationship and not romance, because it's not really a romance at all) she might come back with a stronger focus and better balance in the next book.
3 stars out of 5.