Jul 19 2011 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Retribution (August 2, 2011)

Retribution by Sherrilyn KenyonSherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin’s Press, August 2, 2011, $25.99

Harm no human…

A hired gunslinger, William Jessup Brady lived his life with one foot in the grave. He believed that every life had a price. Until the day when he finally found a reason to live. In one single act of brutal betrayal, he lost everything, including his life. Brought back by a Greek goddess to be one of her Dark-Hunters, he gave his immortal soul for vengeance and swore he’d spend eternity protecting the humans he’d once considered prey.

Orphaned as a toddler, Abigail Yager was taken in by a family of vampires and raised on one belief—Dark-Hunters are the evil who prey on both their people and mankind, and they must all be destroyed. While protecting her adoptive race, she has spent her life eliminating the Dark-Hunters and training for the day when she will meet the man who killed her family: Jess Brady.

A gun in the hand is worth two in the holster…

Jess has been charged with finding and terminating the creature who’s assassinating Dark-Hunters. The last thing he expects to find is a human face behind the killings, but when that face bears a striking resemblance to the one who murdered him centuries ago, he knows something evil is going on. He also knows he’s not the one who killed her parents. But Abigail refuses to believe the truth and is determined to see him dead once and for all.
Brought together by an angry god and chased by ancient enemies out to kill them both, they must find a way to overcome their mutual hatred or watch as one of the darkest of powers rises and kills both the races they’ve sworn to protect.

Retribution is the 20th book in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter Series, and I may have squee’d when I had it in my hands. Okay, so I totally fan-girl screamed, danced a cha-cha, and thanked the goddesses for gifting me with it, but you all don’t have to know that…or witness it.

Jess “Sundown” Brady is the main character in this long-awaited story. Many of us Dark-Hunter fans have been waiting for his story for a long time. Sundown has existed, but not really lived, not since the death of his mother when he was a child. Every time something good comes into his life (the love of his life for example), it’s taken away, He says goodbye to his human life in return for a chance at vengeance. Once his vengeance is complete, Sundown ends up crossing paths with Abigail’s family…

Abigail, who has also lived a life full of tragedy, wishes for vengeance herself after the murder of her parents. She has grown up with a family of vampires that have brainwashed her into believing Dark Hunters are evil and should be destroyed. The worst of those Dark Hunters is, of course, Jess “Sundown” Brady. Why? Because he’s the one she believes killed her family, and therefore Abigail is hell-bent on killing Jess. As the plot unfolds, the two enemies must work together to fight one of the world’s darkest evils—or die, along with the rest of the world.

In this installment, Ms. Kenyon shifts focus from the “traditional” Greek mythology and onto the Native American legends she was brought up with as a child (she’s part Tsalagi/Cherokee). The story told comes across darker then previous novels due to the “end of the world” scenario that comes into play early on. It’s the Apocalypse on steroids, scary and full of things that go bump in the night.

It’s a definite change of pace in terms of style because it’s more along the lines of a Paranormal Urban Fantasy. Because I don’t want to ruin a single page of Retribution for you Dark Hunter fans, I’m going to focus on a continuing theme I just found, twenty books later. But I would be remiss—not to mention a bad fan—if I didn’t give you just a smidgen of a clue which comes in the form of my favorite quote:

“Acheron always says that our scars are there to remind us of our pasts, of where we’ve been and what we’ve gone through.”

That line struck me, and really made me think about the book in a new light. We know all the Dark Hunters have gone through something terrible, which, in turn, has led them to being in the Heifer Goddess’ service, but with Jess you really feel it. He’s been through hell: The loss of the two women that meant more to him than life itself, and the betrayal of his best friend.

The book made me realize that whatever the tragedy, whatever else you’ve gone through in your life, it gets better. Life is a series of scars and memories, but it’s up to each of us to get through them. Life is truly what you make it, and we all have to find our own reason to live. Thank you, Ms. Kenyon, for finally making me realize that very thing.

The chemistry between Sundown and Abigail is palpable from the start. Passionate in ways of most relationships, but also comfortable the further it goes along. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked Abigail, but once you start to understand her, you fall in love with her. She’s one strong woman—with what she’s been through, most of us would crumple, but she gets pissed and takes charge.

“That was what living was about. That was being human. When everything hurt and everything was wrong, to have that one person who could make you smile even when all you wanted to do was cry.”

Retribution is now my second- favorite Dark Hunter novel, only after Acheron. Now excuse me, I am going to go live instead of merely existing, and I am taking Retribution with me.

Natasha Carty reviews Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on her website Wicked Little Pixie and lives in Toronto, Canada, with her cat, Seamus.

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Sharon Collins
1. Skyblue
Just read your review and it has made me even more desperate for my copy of Retribution to arrive!
3. brooklynbabe
I am waiting with baited breath. It has been much too long, Sherri. How about a story around the Drakos, Max, who lives at sanctuary? I love dragons and would like to read about a hot romance with him.
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