Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review of Cindy Spencer Pape's Motor City Mage

Title: Motor City Mage (Urban Arcana #4)
Author: Cindy Spencer Pape
Publisher: Carina Press
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Publication Date: March 12, 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5

My introduction to Cindy Spencer Pape’s Urban Arcana series was through the third book in the series, Motor City Wolf, and I liked the book so much that I immediately bought the first two in the series. I’ve really enjoyed these paranormal romances set in Detroit, and I wish these books were available in print, because I suspect fans of paranormal romance would love this series. Motor City Mage is the fourth book in the series and has a road trip feel to it that’s not present in the other books, but it’s a lot of fun nonetheless.
The titular mage of the book is Desmond Sutton, member of the Wyndewin League, an organization of witches and mages that police various elements of the supernatural world. The League isn’t particularly friendly to the other supernatural races, which has Desmond in a tight spot, since his sister is marrying a Fae lord. In prior books, Desmond has found himself reluctantly aiding the other supernatural groups in their fight against a demon-influenced designer drug, and he continues that fight in this book, even in the face of criticism from his employers.
Lana Novak is a sexy werewolf who’s fighting her attraction to Desmond, especially since he’s made it clear in the past that he’s not particularly friendly with werewolves. But when she runs into Desmond on her college campus and reminds him to attend a family dinner for his sister’s sake, their attraction flares. Lana offers to help him acquire samples of the drugs, but when they try to banish the demons responsible for the drug to another dimension, their plan backfires, and they find themselves traveling through various dimensions to get home.
At times this book felt a bit like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, because for most of the book Des and Lana are busy traveling to new dimensions and meeting new creatures. This is a departure from the other books in the series, which have been mostly set in Detroit with a few short excursions to Faerie. All Desmond and Lana’s adventures in other dimensions bring them a lot closer, and some of the creatures they meet are hilarious (ele-cows, anyone?). I liked the different settings, because the focus was mainly on Desmond and Lana’s growing relationship, but I did miss the interaction with the other characters from the series. We get to see the others at the very beginning and at the end in the big fight scene, though, so that makes up for it a bit.
Desmond and Lana’s chemistry is off the charts, and I liked both the hero and heroine, especially Lana. She’s strong and kick-butt and so sexy Desmond can’t think straight, which is pretty darn funny. She manages to surprise Desmond time and again, first with her advanced degree, then with her ability to think on her feet while they’re traveling.
In the earlier books Desmond had a strong prejudice against both the Fae and werewolves, and I wish that this had been dealt with more in this book, since he’s the hero. I really wanted to know why he was so antagonistic towards werewolves, because that would have added a bit more tension to his decision to have a relationship with Lana. In a prior book he does mention his past issues with the wolves, but it really didn’t come up here, and while new readers probably won’t notice, I’m sure returning fans of the series will.
I did feel that the epilogue was a bit superfluous. At the end of the book, Desmond has to face down the Wyndewin League, and I felt that scene wrapped up the series quite nicely. The subsequent epilogue (without going into too many spoilers) brings back all the former characters and ties up any loose ends, but I’m not really sure it was all that necessary.
The Urban Arcana series is a lot of fun and highly recommended for paranormal romance fans. I’m a bit sad to see it end, and I would love to see Ms. Pape write a spin-off series about the demons in which we’ll see some familiar faces!

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