Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-210-7
Fantasy Romance, 2008
Into the Lair is the second book in Maya Banks’s Falcon Mercenary Group series. You don’t have to read Into the Mist to appreciate this one, but I’d suggest that you do because doing so will help you fill in the blanks when it comes to some aspects of the plot in this story. At any rate, do read my review of that book to catch up on how the members of the FMG end up with all types of shifter abilities. For the purpose of this review, let’s just say that the FMG realized by the end of the last book that one of them, Gabe Buchanan, was a mole but he was forced to play one in order to keep his sister Katie safe.
In this one, brothers Ian and Braden Thomas are stuck with shapeshifting abilities that they have yet to fully control. They can change into various animals at the most inconvenient moments and now they are scared of losing their humanity and becoming mindless predatory beasts that will threaten those they care about one of these days. They are also out to take down the bad guy and using Katie as bait seems like a good idea. Katie is already on the run once she realizes that Gabe is not coming back and she puts up a good fight but she is no match for two virile Maya Banks heroes, alas. As those three sizzle up the pages, however, the bad guy isn’t just going to sit there and wait for the FMG to nab him…
The plot of this story isn’t the strongest aspect of Into the Lair. The solution to Ian and Braden’s problems seems obvious to me the moment the author pretty blatantly hints at it early in the story and there are some dodgy convenient coincidental/lucky turn of events in the story to keep things moving. There are even some puzzling sex scenes, such as one where the heroine is hurt only to miraculously recover well enough to have sex with two men without popping open any stitches.
But I’m not ashamed to say that the sex scenes are what make this story a toe-curling read for me. I don’t know how Ms Banks does it, but she displays this knack to come up with some of the most erotic scenes I’ve come across in my checkered career as a reader. Katie is a nice balance of realistic feisty antics and vulnerability – she needs protection but she doesn’t grate too much as a damsel in distress. Braden is the more easy going sibling while Ian is the more emo one, but they are both pretty well-written hunks. Of course, they work best when they are naked and ready to go, so it’s a good thing that they are always willing to be in that condition in this story. The plot could be tightened up here and there but the story is entertaining enough in a fun and campy manner. Besides, these two guys are more than happy to stay upright and make up for any shortcoming in the plot. They are also pretty well-developed characters to the point that they have distinct personalities instead of being merely the same guy times two.
Into the Lair is a naughty romp with a plot that complements the sensual aspects of the story well enough to make it a most entertaining read. In many ways, this one is a typical story by this author, one that her fans would know what to expect from her. Not that I am complaining in this case, of course. When it comes to fun and entertaining stories that make me want to fan myself, I can be a pushover and Ms Banks always seems to know how to exploit that weakness of mine.