One for the Wicked
In One for the Wicked, the last installment of Karina Cooper's Dark Missions series we get to know Shawn Lowe, a member of the so-called resistance, composed of men and women who are united against the iron-fisted rule of the Church. Shawn has a hatred for the head of the Missionaries, Dr. Lawrence Lauderdale that goes far beyond ideology. He witnessed his parents' murder at the Doctor's command, and Shawn is determined to make the man pay for his crime. An unexpected opportunity comes his way when he is given the directive to kidnap Lauderdale's only (known) child, Kayleigh, to be used as leverage to free some imprisoned rebels. Equally unexpected is the unnerving and unwanted desire for his captive from the moment he lays his hands on her. He finds himself second-guessing his actions as he begins to reluctantly admire her spirit, and to regret using her as collateral.

Kayleigh is overwhelmed by her attraction to Shawn and then devastated when she realizes he has been using her. However, her dismay at his lies is nothing compared to her sense of betrayal when she recognizes her father's duplicity, and that in fact nothing about her world has ever been true. When it becomes evident that she alone can cure the disintegration of the "witches", she is forced to pick sides. And as the city literally explodes around them, the two must decide if they trust each other enough to risk it all.

The first thought I had after finishing the last page was that there just has to be a loose end somewhere that Ms. Cooper could draw just a little more story from! That being said, this author does an outstanding job drawing together the characters and plots from the preceding five books for a satisfying finale. She has successfully created a world, which to anyone picking up one of them would appear to be just some kind of futuristic steam punk dystopia, when it is actually packed with devoted, loving people that the readers cannot help but care for. Yes, the heroes generally start out as damaged goods, but despite (or maybe because of) that, they strike a chord within. In reviewing these stories again, it seems that each hero is more and more sexy right out of the gate, so that Shawn is just off the charts. Likewise, the female leads seem to be more and more intelligent and courageous with each successive book until we end up with Kayleigh, who is up for just about any challenge thrown at her. It is this level of independence that will keep all those alpha men of New and Old Seattle on their toes...and a large part of what makes these stories so attractive, at least to this reader.

Reviewed by: Lynn