Read my review of the first book in the Hammer and Fist: Geminatus series, Inferno.

I have previously joked that I want to live in Cody’s brain, and this book is another excellent example of why. I adore the world she has created between the joint Hammer and Fist series, and whether Lextalion or Ranger-Hunter is my favorite hero is only determined by which book I’ve read most recently. That being said, Ranger-Hunter operates as a complete newcomer to the world in which Lextalion has been steeped since birth, with the added twist of Cody’s brilliantly deft handling of a seamless dual-POV, especially when the Ranger and Hunter avatars are in completely different locations. Okay, so maybe he’s my favorite. By just a smidge.

This book picks up immediately where the previous left off, which means it must be read in series order. This installment moves forward the mystery of what’s been going on in Ranger-Hunter’s small Tennessee town for most of his life, picking up the pace a bit now that Ranger-Hunter has started to adapt to working for the IDIA (Inter-Dimensional Immigration Agency). Each reveal increases the interest and deadliness of the threat while also expanding Ranger-Hunter’s awareness of this new world he’s found himself in. I do love how chill and competent Ranger-Hunter is, even in the face of true danger, but I’ll admit it cuts a bit of the tension. Eventually, something will rattle him, but I both look forward to that day and dread it on the character’s behalf.

While there is a bit of crossover with the Lextalion series, it has more to do with happenstance than plot relevance. So, I highly recommend both series for greater immersion in this world, but it’s not necessary. That being said, as an avid reader of both, I especially love the contrast between Lextalion’s intentional training of a new field agent versus how Ranger-Hunter is functionally shoved in the deep end and picks everything up on the fly. Once his official trainer does show up, there’s not much time for a true “getting to know you” period, but I’m already fascinated by everything I do learn about Julius. I certainly would not be averse to spending more time with him in the future, whether in this series, Lextalion’s, or even elsewhere.

It’s important to note that this series is first an urban fantasy with a queer main character, not a paranormal romance. The developing relationship between Cedric and Ranger-Hunter is sweet, but not an integral aspect of the primary plot. That being said, I did love learning more about Cedric as a whole character in this book, including details about both his past and present. I also know that Cody tends to make very cool connections between story elements; though I’m not banking on it occurring here, the possibilities are certainly intriguing. Just as important as the romance subplot are the new friendships Ranger-Hunter builds as he’s able to be truly himself for the first time in his life. His friendship with Dustin is as important as the burgeoning love with Cedric, and one of the benefits of keeping this series firmly rooted in urban fantasy first is the ability to explore both connections and give them equal weight.

One of the notes I left to myself early in the course of reading this book was “This town is too sweet to be real.” Well, Cody doesn’t hesitate to prove me right with the revelation that Ranger-Hunter uncovers toward the end of the story, which both elevates the mystery way beyond what I expected and forces our hero to confront his relationship with his hometown in a way that will make for amazing inner conflict later in the series. Cody warns up-front that this book ends with a cliffhanger, but I’ll note that the book itself does not feel unfinished. Readers will get plenty of the answers they deserve, but not yet any of the solutions to the greater problem. Thus, I find myself happily anticipating whatever comes next rather than frustrated I did not get more, which is the best sort of cliffhanger there is.

Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars
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