Apr 16 2013 9:30am

Speculatin’ and Shapeshiftin’: Where’s the Romance in Ilona Andrews’s Magic Rises?

Magic Rises by Ilona AndrewsMagic Rises, the sixth book in Ilona Andrews's Kate Daniels series, is out in July. Here’s a description:

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

From that description, it sounds like we’re talking about Kate acting as an ambassador of peace. Um, no. In the past, her idea of arbitration usually meant she’d pull out her sword, Slayer, and snarl at her adversary until the fight started and she kicked ass. If she acts, it won’t be as a diplomat out front of the crowd. As the authors say: “Kate likes her sword a little too much and has a hard time controlling her mouth. The magic in her blood makes her a target, and she spent most of her life hiding in plain sight.”

She’s certainly capable of being smart and even of dodging violence. In the novella “A Questionable Client,” she acts quickly and averts a disaster by avoiding self-interest—arriving at a solution without violence just when death seemed inevitable. She has grown through the books (I love that about this series), yet I still don’t see her as someone who’ll be called upon to stop a war, unless you want some blood and guts spilled before peace is reached.

Curran’s not exactly known for his diplomacy either. In his shape-shifter world, leaders fight their way to the top, literally. Of course there’s the mysterious “trap” waiting for them, but maybe they don’t know that when they’re packing for the trip. Which secondary characters would they drag along to help?

This is an important question not just for plotting reasons but because we need some new romance.

Kate and Curran form a pair and there’s no question about that, not anymore. Even if they get into a big fight, or one marches off in a snit, those two are perfect mates. There’s no way to make their romance fall apart without readers going ballistic. When you need a bit of fresh romance in a series like this, secondary characters will step up to the plate. They can provide new and interesting will-they/won’t-they tension and flirty banter.

Jim and Dali had their own novella. Andrea and Raphael had a novella and a book. Who’s left?

If I had any kind of talent for drawing a March Madness bracket, filling out the number one slot would be Derek. The formerly light-hearted and now brooding werewolf would be intriguing as the male half of the pair. As a pack member he’d definitely want to come along. But there is the fact that he and Julie, Kate’s adopted daughter, are dancing around, though I’m not sure that’ll happen in this book. Julie’s still too young.

Speaking of too young, Ascanio also has potential, but for a later book.

Since this is apparently taking place in Europe, maybe my favorite volhv, Roman, can go along to help Kate and Curran. I hope they call on the black magician. He’s the epitome of evil as well as suave, funny and ready to romance the ladies. And the fact that he wears Eeyore pajamas made him downright irresistible. Okay he’s replacing Derek in that top pick slot.

Frankly, I’d love to see Auntie B take on someone, but I have to put her in a lower bracket than even Ascanio. Solid middle aged ladies aren’t really the standard for romances, even borderline psychotic killer leaders like her. Then there’s the fact that she’s even less of a diplomat than Curran so she probably will stay home. But what about Doolittle? Come on. Older people need love too.

Although if we’re going for someone slightly older than the usual romantic lead, chances are Hugh D’Ambry, the mysterious warlord for Roland, has the most romantic potential in that age-set. Well, except we’re not going to get close enough to him yet to find out much about his point of view—hence the mystery part of his description. So with some reluctance, I’m moving him to a lower pick.

Saiman is too skeevy. Ghastek is too unpleasant. If any master of the dead could act in a romantic role, it would have to be Rowena. Speaking of people we rarely hear about who might need a bit of love, maybe Anna, Greg’s widow, will show up at last? I liked the way she’d call Kate up with dire incomprehensible messages, then hang up, fast. I miss those calls.

But I figure this book will be about the pack and not contain a lot of the people we’ve met outside of it. Maybe Barabas the lawyer shapeshifter will get a chance for romance?

Any guesses who you think will get a chance at passion? The “no new romance in this book” option is also open, but I wouldn’t place any money on that one. Ilona Andrews does the war between the sexes too well to miss out on a chance to show us a full campaign.


Kate Rothwell set out to write a natural-born do-gooder in her historical Somebody Wonderful. She writes romance using her own name and the pseudonym Summer Devon. Kate lives in Connecticut with four men (three of whom are her sons). You can out more about her at KateRothwell.com and SummerDevon.com.

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Lege Artis
1. LegeArtis
Great post, Kate. You got me thinking....
I'll go with Roman... I think he is the best choice for new romance in series... Julie is to young and somehow I don't see her with Derek... Ascanio or even Dragon Dude with her in later books would be interesting.
As for Kate being mediator, I believe it's just her special blend of diplomacy. She'll pull her Slayer out eventualy.... I'm very excited for next Kate Daniels book and I believe Ilona andrews duo completely-they'll come out with great story as usual.
Shiloh Walker
2. shiloh_walker
ACK! NO, NOT DEREK! I have dreams of him with Julie but she's gotta grow up...
Shiloh Walker
3. shiloh_walker
Heh. Lege... Dragon Dude.

But, hush you. Julie would be awesome with Derek. She'd kick Ascanio's ass all over the place. I think he's terrified of Julie already.
4. KateRothwell
Sure Julie would kick Ascanio's ass to hell and back, but that might be kind of fun to watch.
Lege Artis
5. LegeArtis
Shiloh- the Most Awesome Inventor of name The Dragon Dude. =) I never used that other, regular name since.
Julie and Ascanio remind me of Kate and Curran at the beginning. They fight and banter all the time.
Carmen Pinzon
6. bungluna
I would vote for Roman as the next romantic interest. As for Julie, I used to hope for a Dereck pairing, but now I like Dragon Dude better for her.

As for other members of the 'delegation', Andrea has got to go with Kate; the two of them together are a large part of why I love these books so much. It's just so rare to have UF heroines who have genuine meaningful friendships with other females.
7. wsl0612
Ooh I'd really like to see Roman get a romance, he's already well-named, heheh. Seriously he has been a big part of the last couple of books, it would be fun to see who IA picks out for him.

And I wish we would see more of Dali and Jim, I love them as a couple.
Carmen Pinzon
8. bungluna
@wsl0612- Dali and Jim deserve their own book, or at least another novella. As for Roman, the Free People need a dark Volv in the family.:-)
9. wsl0612
@bungluna, I agree, I was very disappointed that Dali and Jim didn't get an entire book!
Forget the Free People, I need a dark Volv! ;-)
Carmen Pinzon
11. bungluna
I loved when he was folding his sleves pre-final scene in Gunmetal Magic and we found out he's a Ranger too!
Lege Artis
12. LegeArtis
@bungluna- I loved "You shall not pass!!!" scene...
Roman is awesome..... =)
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