Fate's Edge is the third and penultimate book in the Edge series, and while the previous books could be read more or less independently of each other, this one is more of a straight sequel to book 2, Bayou Moon, and while it will make sense, won't be half as satisfying. As a consequence, this review will also contain minor spoilers for books 1 and 2, and if you haven't read the series, stop reading this and go read On the Edge instead.
Audrey Callahan comes from a family of con men and grifters, who have benefitted greatly from her magical ability to unlock anything, but sick of being used, Audrey cuts all ties with her family, and determines to stay on the straight and narrow. She wants to use whatever tricks she used pulling cons to aid her in her new, respectable career as a private investigator. When her father shows up on her doorstep, suggesting one last heist, so they can get her older brother into rehab (again), she reluctantly agrees, on the condition she never has to see or hear from either of them again.
Kaldar Mar is an all-round scoundrel, and uses his good looks, guile and intelligence as a spy, working to get revenge on the Hand, the ruthless organization that wiped out his former home and much of his family. He's tasked with tracking down the powerful object that Audrey helped steal, and believes he can easily charm Audrey into assisting him. Audrey may look gentle and innocent, but she calls Kaldar on his game immediately, and leaves him tasered and tied to a chair in her office within minutes of meeting him. She knows he's bad news for her, and her law-abiding and normal existance, and wants nothing to do with anything he's proposing.
The Hand are after the object her family stole, however, and their agents don't care who they have to torture and/or kill to get it back. Once Audrey realizes how many people her theft may have endangered, her conscience won't allow her to turn her back on Kaldar's mission, even though all her instincts tell her to stay far, far away from the dangerously charming man who not only can keep up with her and her schemes, but whose skills possibly even surpass her own. A charming ladies man like Kaldar would never be happy tied down to just one woman, so she'll need to keep her wits about her to avoid heartbreak and rejection once the mission is over.
Ilona and Gordon Andrews are husband and wife, and co-write all their books. As well as the Edge series, they also write the paranormal Kate Daniels books, which I also adore. With a few exceptions, all their books are brilliant, and they are now on my pre-order list, no matter what books they produce. The Edge series books are a bit more focused on romance than the Kate Daniels ones, with a central couple getting their HEA over the course of the story. In Bayou Moon, Kaldar's cousin Cerise finds her match in the werewolf William, and both characters appear over the course of this book as supporting cast. As do Jack and George, the younger brothers of the heroine in On the Edge. That's why it makes a lot of sense to have read both the previous books in the series before starting this one, quite a lot of essential back story is given there.
The main plot is not a romance, though, it's more a mix of a quest and a heist movie. If you like Ocean's Eleven with the clever protagonists and the witty banter, and characters constantly working to outsmart and one up each other, this should be right up your alley. Audrey and Kaldar are both very guarded and have dark pasts, and both are used to being the smartest person in the room. In some ways, they're almost too perfectly matched. The banter between them is a joy to read. The supporting cast, pretty much all comprising (as mentioned earlier) of characters introduced in the former two books, are all excellent too, and I laughed out loud several times over the course of the story.
The villains of the story are really very brutal, and there are some scenes of quite graphic violence. So be warned of that if you have weak stomach. While they are seemingly ruthless, they also have a clearly stated purpose, and they don't perform their gruesome acts randomly and without reason. That possibly makes them even scarier.
Generally, while the central romance in this moves more slowly and is in some ways less compelling than in the previous Edge books, the action and adventure plot is excellent, and this may be my favourite of the series, and also, one of my favourite Ilona Andrews novels, so far. As far as I could gather, they are only planning one more book in this series, to center around Kaldar's brother Richard, but if they were planning a spin off set some time in the future, I would love a book focusing on Jack and George when they've had a chance to grow older and even more awesome than they are in this book.