Well, I’d done enough running. These dudes are human.
And I’m immortal.
Born Dante Walker, reborn a demon—
Today a liberator who’s about to put these guys down.
The thing with expectations… is that too much is a killer.
That and my pathological love of The Collector may have killed some of my enjoyment of this book. I tried to come in to this with zero expectations, but its kind of hard with a hero as unique as Dante Walker. Especially with that blurb and the lack of any excerpt (why, Victoria Scott???) before release day.
Well it did deliver on some of my expectations and fell short on the rest.
As the second book to this (I suppose) series, I felt The Liberatorwas a good test on how solid the storyline is. A big part of The Collector's charm for me was the novelty of Dante's swagger as a villain, which I guess was why I loved the first half more than the latter. And now that he's newly cuffed as a good guy, we're left with snarky and besotted.
Unlike in the first book where he comes in with all that swag, Dante's a bit lost at the beginning here. He doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere, how can he possibly work for The Big Guy liberating souls by being good when he's bad to the bone? He's uncertain about everything except for his love for Charlie. He may have his yearning to live out life as the old Dante but for Charlie, in order that he may be worthy of her perfection, he's willing to pretend as a Liberator.
Part of his new job is to haul himself all the way to Denver, away from Charlie, to Liberate the VERY IMPORTANT soul of one Aspen Lockheart, a good girl on the path and hell bent to being bad.
Now some fans (including me) were a little worried when this was alluded to in the blurb because that smells a lot like the bermuda triangle of love.
Don't worry, it's not like that. Dante sees a bit of himself in her… and only regards her with sisterly affections. And no, you don't even have a moment to doubt that relationship because:
✭ it's repeatedly hammered that he only sees her as a sister/friend and
✭ because he's so utterly, completely, balls to the wall in love with Charlie it's a scientific impossibility for him to look at anyone else.
"I'll be back in a few minutes, babe. Want something to eat?"
A grin sweeps across my face. "How about a piece of my baby?"
Yes, they're THAT kind of couple and I'll get back to the DanLie (DanChar? CharDan?) lovefest in a while.
So Aspen. I have a feeling I would've liked her if I knew her a little better or if her actions made a little more sense. And I'll probably be alone in this, but it felt like her character (considering how big a part she played in the end) could've used some of that undesirable, but necessary sexual tension with Dante. It felt like that sibling-esque affections they have towards each other were anemic and the basis flimsy at best. It took away some of my emotional commitment to her character especially knowing so very little about her even in the end. While in the middle part, she just stuck out like a third wheel.
Actually there was an abundance of third wheels on this one, with the inclusion of almost everyone from the first book and the addition of new characters. It felt a little cramped in the middle. Some characters seem to blend together, seemingly redundant in their function in the grand scheme of things (i.e. Charlie and Aspen, Max and Blue ). I'm not even sure why Annabelle was there, Kraven at least provided some entertaining (in my mind) homoerotic moments with Dante. I felt a slight disconnect from the flow of things as the story progressed from Dante's assignment to focusing back on the bigger plot of Charlie's role and the mysterious new mythology brewing. Instead of blending well, the Charlie/Dante dynamic was hijacking every new story line that gets introduced or expanded on.
I have very mixed feelings towards Dante and Charlie here. I am happy that Dante's character is evolving. He's still as snarky, vain and arrogant as he was with some worrisome statements about unicorn vaginas (WTF), wallpapers and fashion but he doles it out gradually which I really liked. He isn't always ON, but when he's ON...
Looking mighty fine, if I do say so myself: red v-neck, dark denim, designer combat boots, and enough testosterone rolling off me to satisfy Nicki Minaj. Pow!
Some might see Dante as going soft here but I did like seeing his confusion and adjustment in shifting from his old ways to being Charlie's boyfriend (because he's seriously whipped) though I admit they can get OTT when they get together. There's a bit of fade-to-black sexiness (nothing graphic) on this one that I felt fit with the progression of their relationship. But I also felt that there's a little bit too much of Charlie everywhere yet still not enough to quell my longing for Charlie v1.0. The bigger plot is still getting bigger still and was a little too busy favoring new story lines instead of revisiting familiar bonds between characters.
So a middling middle book for me but it still brought up new and interesting plot developments that I'll be looking forward to on the next installment with. But maybe easing up a little on the insane expectations.