Dark romance can be so addicting. The thrill of the taboo, the dark and moody love interests, and the sexual tension! All so good! Add in the spice of magic, fae politics, and deals with the devil and you get this book, Rhapsodic. It’s a bit of a slow burn with some back and forth flashbacks, but by the end of it, I found myself really liking the characters and their chemistry.
Callypso Ellis, or Callie, is a siren who has found herself in a lot of trouble. The Bargainer, Desmond Flynn, is a man of mystery who grants favors in return for a price, and only death or repayment will get you out of his debt. Unluckily for Callie, she has 322 favors to repay and, after 7 years, the Bargainer has finally come to collect. But the Bargainer is more than he appears to be. In the Otherworld, he’s the fae king of the Night Court, and someone has been stealing fae women and men, returning the women pregnant and comatose. Now it’s up to Callie to help figure out what exactly is going on before more go missing.
The concept of this book was pretty interesting to me. I don’t think we get many books where sirens are the main characters. Callie’s powers certainly make for a good PI story, where she can compel people to confess or tell her anything she needs to know. However, I think the mystery element of this story got put on the back-burner in favor of her relationship with Desmond and world-building. Which is a shame, because I think that was one of the most interesting parts of this book, something that made you feel like the pace was picking up and kept you reading. I especially liked the dynamic between Callie and Temper. I would have loved to have seen them work on a case together, instead of her being more of a side character.
The biggest part of this book dealt with trauma and the relationship between Callie and Desmond. Their relationship stretches back to when she was just 16 and killed her stepfather for trying to rape her. In a state of fear, she calls on the Bargainer to help keep her out of trouble and get rid of the body. Callie is wracked by the trauma from her years of sexual assault, and finds that the only friend she feels comfortable with is the man who makes devil’s bargains with anyone who asks. Her story of trauma, loneliness, and being an outcast comes out in bits and pieces of flashbacks throughout the book. Through these we see their relationship develop and also see a contrast between the Callie then and the Callie now, who is dealing with Desmond’s surprise return after 7 years.
“I’m not asking you to never feel sad, Callie, I’m asking you to fight. Always fight. You can do that, can’t you?” I suck in a deep breath. “I don’t know,” I say honestly. His entire demeanor gentles with that confession. “Can you try?”-Laura Thalassa, Rhapsodic
I do enjoy the sass and spice between Callie and Desmond. I love female characters who are not afraid to talk back and sling some sass, and their relationship is full of it. Her 322 favors hanging over her head create a sense of spice and taboo, though thankfully the author doesn’t take it into assault territory as that would have negated Callie’s whole story of recovery. I never got the sense that Desmond made or coerced her into sex, and you can realy feel how much he cares for her. Callie and her siren crave the spice that Desmond is able to provide, and I think the thrill of Desmond’s methods of repayment is something she needs. It’s a difference that is built on trust that is cemented through the flashbacks to their time together when she was 16.
Thalassa focuses a ton on world-building and crafting the relationship between Callie and Desmond, so this first book is a bit of a slow burn. The mystery element, like I said above, takes some time to get to. I wish we got more of it sooner, as the pace of the book is fairly slow in the beginning. The mystery itself, that of women being raped and impregnated by someone, definitely serves as a character challenge for Callie, a way for her to fight to overcome some of her trauma, to face it head-on. While she’s basically powerless in the Otherworld, Desmond makes sure to help her find other ways to take back control and never be a victim again. It’s a fairly good story in that way.
If you’ve had a chance to read this book, or the full series, let me know what you thought in the comments below. I would love to know your opinion on this one.
~~Thanks for reading!~~
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