Raven’s Kiss is the second book that I’ve read and reviewed by Toni LoTempio, and I have to say she’s really found her voice in this one! While I really enjoyed the first book, I had a slight bit of a difficult time adapting to the dialogue style. But Raven’s Kiss really immersed me in LoTempio’s urban fantasy world. The book starts out about two years prior to the time of the actual story, with Raven Grace as a college senior majoring in Criminal Justice. She’s blowing off  a little steam before a big final, flirting a little, dancing a bit, just trying to relax. The prologue is told from the POV of what seems like a creepy serial killer stalker. He turns out to be far worse!

Chapter One fast forwards to present day, and Raven is now a member of the Recovery Operation, basically the cops for things that go bump in the night. She’s tough, hardened, and on the verge of snapping- or at least her colleagues think so. Her boss forces her into taking a two-week vacation, but Raven isn’t one to sit on her laurels, especially when there is a demon on the loose- the very demon that turned her into a Coli, or shapeshifter, on that fateful night two years earlier. Her hunt takes her across the threshold into a parallel time. This is where I get all excited, thinking “hey, she’s managed to explain string theory to me in words I understand!” I wonder if LoTempio was going for that effect, or if it’s just a happy coincidence?

Raven crosses into the alternate universe, meets a super-hot Recovery agent on the other side, and finds out some shocking information about herself. The story is rooted in Scottish mythology and features several background characters that are as richly drawn as the main characters. Aside from a few spots where I thought “I would never say that,” the dialogue flowed smoothly through my mind, giving the characters a three-dimensional feel. Like her previous book, No Rest For the Wicca, LoTempio once again proves herself an expert at spinning descriptions and using intelligent characters to present the pertinent information.

The cover is beautiful, although I don’t really go for the blatant romance angle with the shirtless guy. But the vivid reds just scream “look at me, read me!” Plus, I just love the cover model’s outfit! Well, minus the heels, I could never walk in those.  But don’t let the cover fool you into thinking this is a straight up romance, it’s mostly about the paranormal mystery. Yes, the romance plays a large role, but like her previous book, it’s not really in your face. My only complaint is how fast the characters go from “I hate you” to “I want you.” I have this issue with a lot of stories that include romance, so it’s not a complaint against LoTempio. Maybe I’m just jaded when it comes to the “love at first sight” thing. Romantic cynicism aside, LoTempio has cemented herself a new fan with this one. While the first book left me wanting more, this one had me wanting to stay up late to finish it, which is a big deal considering how much I love my sleep!