Penguin / July 31, 2012 / $7.99 print & digital
Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.
When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world …
Prior to this release, Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels’s series has only had Kate herself as the protagonist (at least in full-length books). This time, however, Gunmetal Magic is Andrea’s and Raphael’s story. We have watched this couple develop right along with the main protagonists, Kate and Curran. It says a lot about the talent of author(s) who can develop multiple character relationships within a series who aren’t overwhelmed by the main protagonists and are able to mature into separate full-bodied stories of their own.
Kate’s bff, Andrea Nash’s life has been built upon lies and deceptions. Born beastkin, she was horrifically abused by her former pack until she and her mother ran away. From that day, Andrea did everything humanly possible never to be made a victim again. She views her animal side as a handicap. She joined the Order, hid her shapeshifter status, and excelled at everything thrown at her. One choice caused her to lose her autonomy, however, and in losing that, she lost it all. She disappeared for a few months, abandoning both Raphael and Kate. Now she’s back, and while Kate has forgiven her, Raphael is not so altruistic. Andrea knows she will have to do some bowing and scraping, but when Raphael decides to come to her office for a meeting, bringing along his new girlfriend, all bets are off. Andrea makes the decision to stop trying to be what she’s not and embrace all she is.
I examined myself sitting there. I’d held back for so long. I’d been good for so long. I’d always did as expected. I followed the rules and regulations. Look where it got me. Being good hurt.
Andrea is fabulous. She still has her take-no-prisoners attitude that we have grown to love, but here she takes it to a whole new level. Andrea the knight was scary. Andrea the beastkin is terrifying. While Andrea is investigating the murders, she is also trying to make peace with Raphael and keep his mother, Aunt B, from dragging her unwillingly into the bouda clan. Andrea has had to fight and scrape for everything she has ever had and while Raphael knows this, he has never understood the ramifications on Andrea’s emotional state. To Andrea, being forced to do anything she doesn’t want to do is viewed as an act of war:
“From the moment I was born, I learned I had two choices: to fight or to die.”
The dialogue between Andrea and Raphael will keep you rolling as the sarcasm and insults fly between them.
“It not enough you bring your floozy in to my office, now you’re harassing my intern?”
“Intern, huh. Just what is he leaning under you?“
”Are you alright? First you replace me with a bimbo, now you’re feeling threatened by a fifteen year old boy? Did something happen to give you an inferiority complex?“
”That boy has a long resume of sleeping with adult women and you looked a bit desperate last time I saw you.“
I pictured myself reaching through the phone and slapping him off his chair. ”Thank you for your concern, but have no fear. I prefer men, not boys. That’s why I’m not with you anymore."
Andrea and Raphael are forced to work with one another to solve the mystery of who or what killed his crew and they find themselves re-examining their relationship and admitting to bad decisions on both sides. Andrea fears that truly committing to Raphael will result in her losing herself and getting her heart broken. She let him into her bed, but she can never truly let him into her heart. Raphael knows Andrea is his mate, and can’t understand her fears. When they were together before, he didn’t take her past issues of abuse seriously. He felt her rejection was personal and struck out at her in spite. Once they open up to one another, allowing each to see the pain they cause one another, the storyline takes a decidedly different turn as the mating dance re-emerges with a vengeance. Let’s just say I’ll never look at shag carpeting again without crying from laughter.
When Andrea gets some much-needed advice from surprising sources, she decides that Raphael is worth fighting for and we soon find ourselves firmly submerged in their courtship once again. Gunmetal Magic is a delightful, hilarious look at love, loss, and second chances and will appeal to everyone who loves the mythological world and characters Ilona Andrews has created in the best-selling Kate Daniels series.