Otherworld Challenger by Jane Godman
Series: Otherworld Series #3
Also in this series: Otherworld Renegade
Publisher: Harlequin, Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: September 1st 2016
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KING OF THE OTHERWORLD
The race is on to find the true heir to the faerie crown before the evil king Moncoya returns from exile. Mercenary necromancer Jethro de Loix will find the challenger to Moncoya's crown...for a price. One million mortal dollars. Outraged at Jethro's audacity, Princess Vashti, Moncoya's daughter, arranges to accompany him on his mission.
Jethro doesn't want company, especially not from Moncoya's belligerent, pampered daughter. But as their journey pits them against evil forces, their animosity soon gives way to an overwhelming physical attraction. When the trail ends on the legendary Isle of Avalon, can the pair face down the evil sorceress Morgan le Fay to claim a future they'd long denied themselves?
Otherworld Challenger is the final book in the Otherworld series. While it had some pretty disappointing flaws, overall I was happy I read it.
Note: There are a few tiny spoilers for books 1 and 2 here. I’ve kept them to a minimum but if you haven’t read the other books and really don’t want to know anything, skip this review!
This time, our heroine is Vashti, Moncoya’s other daughter. She’s now the faerie representative in the new Otherworld Council, a role she takes really seriously. In book 2, we learned that someone from the faerie royal bloodline is still around. (Moncoya stole the crown but wasn’t part of the line.) The Council wants a democratic election, and they decide the best chance to get the faeries to vote for someone other than Moncoya is to find the legitimate heir. Jethro de Loix, the mercenary necromancer we met earlier in the series, offers to find the challenger, and the Council decides Vashti should accompany him to confirm that he gets the right person. The problem is, Jethro and Vashti can’t stand each other, and now they have to undertake an incredibly dangerous journey together. Doing so will take them deeper into Jethro’s past and force them to rely on someone else in a way neither has ever done before.
I totally loved Vashti. While Tanzi was the feminine fashion icon, Vashti was the fierce tomboy her father always wished was a boy. In book 2, she was still holding some loyalty towards her dad, but when he tricks her into helping him escape at the end of that book, she finally realizes he doesn’t care about her at all. Moncoya often pitted the girls against each other, discouraged them from using their fae senses of intuition and healing, and ruthlessly suppressed their emotions. Once Vashti is free of her father’s influence, though, she discovers she has deep emotions and powers, and I really enjoyed seeing her discover more about herself.
Really, though, this is kind of Jethro’s story. Vashti doesn’t say much about herself, largely because her own past was detailed in Tanzi’s story. It’s a little frustrating because of course Jethro wasn’t there for that, but I could understand not wanting to just rehash what we already know. Jethro’s story is pretty compelling, too, and even though it’s clear from the start what the big secret is going to be, it’s still interesting to read about. I thought Jethro was an excellent match for Vashti, too. He’s kind of a dick, and he’s hard on Vashti at first, but she’s equally prickly and obnoxious at first, too. Once he gets to know her better, he displays a lot of sensitivity and caring, and as you learn about his life you see he’s not quite the heartless mercenary he appears to be.
The first half of this book was so great. We learn more about Jethro, and Vashti gets used to the human world and her own true self. We also find out that Vashti and Jethro have an almost supernatural connection that seems to strengthen both. They have some great sexual tension too, and all of this awakens Vashti to the possibilities inside her. There’s also a big adventure component as they travel around, escaping the evil sorcerer who’s after them. Vashti starts to protect Jethro, physically and emotionally, and I loved the dynamic that was developing. But then, the second part of the book kind of loses that momentum. They go to the mythical island of Avalon, which is where they’re supposed to be, but things slow down once they get there. Even worse, though, all the build up about the mystical connection and this idea that they make the other one stronger kind of just disappears. In the end, Jethro basically does it all on his own while Vashti kind of hangs back instead of being his partner like she was earlier. It was super disappointing and, frankly, a disservice to Vashti.
When I looked back and cataloged all my thoughts about the book it sounds a little frustrating, but while reading it I Could. Not. Put. It. Down. I gasped at the surprising parts, bit my lip when things got hairy, and sweetly sighed at the romantic parts. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway. This series was unexpectedly fun for me, even if it was a bit crazy. If you’re looking for a paranormal romance you can read in a few short hours, and you don’t need to overanalyze the details, this series might hit the spot for you, too.
Grade: 3.5 out of 5