Series: Venom Trilogy #3
Published by 47north on March 7th 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Shifters, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: Kissing, brief reference to an orgy
Reviewed by: Rebecca
The climactic final volume of The Venom Trilogy by USA Today bestselling author Shannon Mayer. Humble baker turned supernatural Alena Budrene is lovely and lethal, and for the first time, she's owning it. Finally rid of her low-life ex-husband, she's free to date sexy vampire mob boss Remo, who respects her as both a Supe and a woman. She's on good terms with her difficult mother, and she's growing comfortable with her powers.
But just when it seems things are falling into place for Alena, Hera strikes again: the Aegrus virus rages across Seattle, threatening the life of everyone in its path-including Remo, infected by Hades. The only way to stop the carnage is to face Hera and her army in a no-prisoners battle to determine the fate of the human race-and Alena's future.
In a sweeping voyage from the Seattle bar scene to a netherworld populated by murderous gods and monsters, Alena confronts one adversary after another on a quest to set the world right for both humans and Supes and demonstrate her power-to the gods and to herself-once and for all.
HISSES & HONEY finds the fun that was so vital to the first novel. After the getting her divorce and besting Theseus on live TV, Alena has taken a large step forward for supernaturals. Human’s respect her, even treat her like a celebrity. But even then, Alena just can’t win. She gets her bakery but loses her man. Instead of cagey characters, who tease Alena that they know a something she doesn’t, in HISSES & HONEY revelations are dropped like bombshells. Everything that should have been explained in the first two books are finally thought out. Family secrets are out! Characters finally tell the truth! Bad guys are actually killed! Each page is loaded with information -- so much so that I wish Mayer had just explained them earlier.
There is so much plot in the novel that it’s hard to tell where the focus is supposed to be. Important events are forgotten. For the final book of a trilogy, a reader should know exactly where the plot is taking them. Am I supposed to care more about the Aegrus plague or the vampire drama? Should I care about Hercules or Alena’s lineage? This unevenness is exemplified with Remo and Smithy. Remo both supports Alena’s strength but also abandons her in order to protect her. He coldly leaves her, then begs for forgiveness. The introduction of Smithy in the second book was a bit of fresh air. He was sensible, talked like a grownup, and you definitely felt the heat between the him and Alena. Giving Smithy a large role in HISSES & HONEY makes sense, but inconsistent characterization lets him down, even before Ernie’s love arrows force the attraction further. (These love arrows have such a rapey vibe. It’s explained away that the arrows foster an attraction that’s already present... but the characters change so much when they’re hit with an arrow, it’s uncomfortable)
Overwhelming plot aside, the worst elements of the second novel (the abundance of mysteries, the sulky main character, the emphasis on Alena’s baking puns and terrible version of curse words) have been greatly reduced. There’s a greater focus on Alena’s personal history, but she’s not obsessed with sticking it to her husband or rebuilding her bakery. The romances become too much (seriously Ernie, a woman is capable of being single for more than four hours), it they don’t detract from Alena’s self-reflection. It’s almost like we’re back to the Alena of the first few chapters of VENOM & VANILLA. If the second book gave you cause to abandon the series, this one should make you pick it back up.Series Titles: