Title: Shades of Black: House Phoenix Book 4
Author: S. W. Vaughn
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Buy Link: Buy Shades of Black Here!
Rating: You Gotta Read
Reviewed By: Janelle
The hunted must become the hunter.
For the past fifteen years, Randall Tyler has lived as Dell Ramone-glamorous transvestite, international smuggler, and leader of House Dionysus, the Queens branch of an organization for underground street fighting. Dell's constant companion and bodyguard is Ania, whom she rescued from a vicious human slave trader in the process of putting him away for life-or so she thought.
Now the slaver, Loyal Sims, is out of prison and hungry for Dell's blood. As Loyal tortures and slaughters his way through Dell's loved ones, she is forced to become Randall once again, and take refuge with Angel-the organization's newest House leader, and the only one Loyal doesn't know.
But soon, even Randall isn't safe any more. With Loyal and the NYPD scouring the city for Dell in any form, male or female, Randall is forced to turn the tables and hunt the hunter-because this time, if he doesn't bring Loyal down first, everyone he cares for will die.
Oh House Phoenix, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. This is definitely one of my favorite series. It is well written, has interesting characters, and carries multiple story lines without a hitch.
Dell is a fun character, s/he is flamboyant and loud, and surprisingly deep. In this story her history is exposed, ripped open and laid bare for all to see. And it isn't a pretty history either. But as is the norm for this series, the exploration is unflinching and rather bloody.
Loyal is an excellent villain. He crazy, but he's not just crazy, he's smart. A true sociopath and completely certifiable; he's focused, driven, and lethal. The scariest part about Loyal is that he knows when not to kill and when to turn on the charm.
The plot of this book returns more towards the houses and the working of the organization as a whole. It is always a nice to see something fleshed out and it is clear that the author did excellent research on the Yakuza and their practices; as well as the very real practice of human trafficking. All of this made for a high energy, fast-paced story that kept me reading far later into the night then I intended.
Overall, I highly recommend not only this book, but the entire series.