He looks out of place in Dela Reese’s Beijing hotel room—exotic and poignant, some mythic, tragic hero of an epic tale.With his feline yellow eyes, he’s like nothing from her world. Yet Dela has danced through the echo of his soul and knows this warrior will obey her every command.
Hari has been used and abused for millennia. But he sees,upon his release from the riddle box, that this new mistress is different. There is a hidden power in Dela’s eyes—and with her, he may regain all that was lost to him. Where once he savaged, now he must protect; where before he knew only hatred, now he must embrace love. Dela is the key. For Dela, he will risk all.
I have a huge TBR, so large I really don’t want to know how many books I have hidden around the house or stored on my ereader. When Lime told me I could review any book from my TBR for the ALBTALBS TBR Challenge this year, I was excited. And then I froze. How do I go about choosing a book from the hundreds I own? After I stopped hyperventilating, I settled on finding a paranormal romance novel to review. I used to read a lot of paranormal romance and realized I haven’t read from this genre is a few years, and I kind of miss the over the top stories that take place in a world that’s a bit more magical than our own.
I’m a big comic book fan, and especially love Marjorie Liu’s original Monstress series. I have read almost every comic Marjorie has worked on and her storytelling is sparse and yet contains a world of meaning and action. While I started reading Marjorie because of her work in comic books, I also read her Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series. But, I had never read the series that started her career as a writer, and since I had apparently purchased all the Dirk & Steele novels, why not read her very first book.
Dela Reese is special. She has psychic abilities that give her an affinity for metal. She can read the age of any metal object, see it’s history, and can urge the metal into any shape she desires it to be. She has built a career sculpting metal into art and weapons. She travels the world by herself and is sure of her ability to take care of herself. Her abilities aren’t strange to her, they are a matter of genetics and science. No magic required. Until she acquires a puzzle box at the Beijing dirt market meets Hari. Then her life turns upside down, and not just because of the fantastical man who appears out of thin air.
Hari is an impossible being. A shifter who runs as a tiger, Hari lost his freedom along with his ability to shift when a magi cursed him over two millinia ago. Locked inside the riddle box where he sleeps between summonings, Hari is thrust into a world he doesn’t recognize when Dela accidentally summons him. When Dela is attacked, which happens several times in the book, Dela doesn’t need him to be a killer, or to keep her safe, which confounds Hari as he attempts to figure out who he is in a world so different from the one he was born to.
Tiger Eye is a fated mates story. Dela and Hari meet seemingly by chance, but it becomes quickly become apparent that they are meant for each other. Their chemistry on page is believable, if a bit sparse. And while Hari’s story is more fantastical and his growth as a person greater, this is really a story about Dela, her friends, and her family. And as the first book in the series, the plot not only drives Dela and Hari to confront a world where magic is not only possible but probable, it also sets up the world of Dirk & Steele for future books.
The plot is driven by an external conflict, help Hari find his tiger and overcome his curse, and figure out who is after Dela. But, and I have to remember this is a first novel, the stakes never seem high Both Dela and Hari are strong, capable people, who throughout the book are able to deal with everything thrown at them. I wanted the emotional stakes to be higher, to see more angst or inner turmoil. Both Hari and Dela are put in situations where what they think they know is challenged, and yet they are both able to quickly adjust without having to pay a large price. I think this is because Tiger Eye was Marjorie’s first book and she is learning her way when it comes to creating emotional stakes. That said, I’m a real fan of competence porn, and all the characters in this book are very good at what they do.
All in all, Tiger Eye was an enjoyable read with an ending that was high stakes enough to be satisfying, I really want to read the rest of the series to see how Marjorie’s voice grows and matures, and how this series compares to her comic series or her urban fantasy series. The world of Dirk & Steele is intriguing and I want to know more about the other characters introduced in this book. Especially Eddie and Blue.
If you enjoy unique paranormal romance with strong characters, a warm heat level, and the promise of continued world building, you may want to give Tiger Eye and the Dirk & Steele series a read.