Bewitched and Betrayed (Raine Benares #4)
April 27, 2010
My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker. I find lost things and missing people — usually alive. Finding the specters of six evil mages who escaped the Saghred, a soul-eating stone of unlimited power, was easy. Stopping them before they unleash Hell on earth just may be the death of me.
Being bonded to the Saghred wasn’t my idea — neither is hunting down its escapees. Especially not when one of them is also hunting me. He’s regenerating his body by taking the lives of powerful victims, along with their memories, knowledge, and most important of all, their magic. The dark mage wants control of the Saghred, and if he gets it, he’ll become an evil demigod whom no one can stop. The only thing in his way is me.
Possible spoilers for previous titles.
*Book provided by the publisher.
This has been one of my most anticipated reads for 2010. The previous three books, massively entertaining in scope, had served to whet my appetite into pretty much a frenzy. It was great to be back on board with this author’s particular adventurous heroine, Raine Benares, as she continues to find a way to thwart not only the evil rock she’s been bound to since book one, but also those that want to possess it – and her.
The fourth book in Shearin’s series starts off with a bang, albeit a naked one. As is usual for Raine by this point in the series, she’s dealing with one highly unusual situation after another. This time she’s searching for five escaped Saghred souls that are working with the villainous Sarad Nukpana. And they’ve corned one in a high-profile whore house. While officials from just about every major branch of government and equally important office flee the premises, Raine has her hands full trying to subdue a naked elf possessed by one of those five souls. The events of that night lead to a full-on run to find Nukpana as he begins to consume the most magically elite in order to attain more power than any villain has a right to.
It’s going to be hard not to spoil this book, as pretty much everything that happens in it is essential to the plot and that of the overall series. That being said, I can say I did enjoy it. If we’re going for full honesty, though, and I was asked to choose where this sat on my scale of favorite in the series, this wouldn’t have come out on top. It does seem to stay in its own circle of comfort: we’re still on the Isle of Mid, Raine and Co. are still chasing Sarad Nukpana all over the place and Raine still has no way to escape the Saghred’s clutches. Thankfully that is a very subjective kind of consideration, though, and despite that, I felt that Shearin strongly upholds the level of entertainment she’s set with her previous three titles. They are, after all, why I’ve come to love the series, and book number four can certainly hold its own as a member.
Raine felt stronger to me in this book; more in control of herself as a young elf carrying a terrible burden, and more in control of the soul-sucked Saghred as well. I didn’t get that almost overwhelming feeling of exhaustion from her that I have before. Sure, she’s got incredible pressure on her, and it will wear her out, but she also seems to possess a newfound sense of commitment to stopping Nukpana. Before her mission seems to have primarily been how to separate herself from the rock, the Saghred. This time I felt she was much more committed to the fact that Nukpana has to be stopped. Because he’s stepped up his game with this installment, and I thought Raine did as well a job as she could against an ultimate evil set on conquering them all.
Raine has a lot of help from Mychael this time, or really about the same amount. It only feels like more because she is in his company for most of the book. Raine has some close calls with the Reapers (shapeless black blobs attracted to death and to her thanks to the Saghred’s wealth of trapped souls). When things get particularly dangerous for Raine, we get to see how far Mychael will go to help her. He’s full of surprises this time, going to lengths not even Raine suspected he would. We also learn a little about his past and how he came to be Paladin, leader of the Conclave Guardians on the Isle of Mid.
I have to admit that I haven’t really been for Team Mychael, as fun-loving fans of the series phrase their favor of him. While I’ve never had anything against him (Mycahel is after all, in possession of a sexiness all his own, aside from the fact that he clearly cares for Raine), I’m usually all for Tam, a sexy, devious goblin, who shares a special bond with Raine and Mychael. I won’t say too much more, but fans will likely be relived to see that the love triangle aspect of the series does get some forward movement. I can say that there were exactly two scenes of hot and heavy sensuality and I was only further enticed on this front, hoping for more!
We get to see Phaelen again, Raine’s excellently comical cousin. Riane’s family abounds with the criminal sort, and they come in handy again as Raine and Co. try to thwart Nukpana. Piares, the young up-and-coming Conclave Guardian cadet who Raine feels is like a brother, makes an appearance, though not as much as he has in previous books. Talon, Tam’s young and impetuous, stubborn, way-to-talented son is also back, and in as much trouble as ever. We’re also introduced to the head of goblin secret service, Imala, who I instantly liked. She’s a petite woman who packs a lot of punch and I sincerely hope she will appear further in the series. I have a feeling about her in conjunction with another character, and if I’m right, I have to say that I might just approve. Apologies for the vagueness, but hopefully you’ll read the book and see what I mean.
Shearin’s worldbuilding has already been built perfectly in past books, so it appeared as though effortless this time. The writing and pace is action-fueled, with Raine’s usual break-neck speed at accomplishing things par for the course. I would say that if you haven’t read the series yet, you will need to go back and start at book one. Not only will you glean an understanding of her world and cement it for future installments, but you’ll be truly entertained by the development of all the major characters.
I’m a fangirl of this series, and believe me when I say it’s hard not to squeal it all into this review. Suffice to say, if you’ve enjoyed the past books, you’ll likely enjoy this one as well. I do somewhat wish that the series arc had progressed a little further, but considering where things end up this time, I’m pleased about where it’s all going. Sometimes I think Raine has a tendency to over explain things in her role of first person heroine, but then she is the type of gal that prefers to be prepared before diving into anything. Considering the kind of foe she’s dealing with, this is probably the smarter route.
Slipping back into Shearin’s Raine Benares series felt effortless and seamless. Bewitched and Betrayed is yet another solid entry with very little to detract from it, offering a turn in the series that will hopefully give the action and plot even more exciting places to go, and us, the readers, along with it. I know I’ll be ready for the next one. Book five, titled Con and Conjure for now, will release some time next year. If you’re a newb to Shearin’s work, and you enjoy fantasy interspersed with an enticing romance, a little bit of humor and a whole lot of grade A action, this is the series for you. All four entries and on through this one – highly recommended.
Rating: Four and a Half Scoops
- Magic Lost, Trouble Found
- Armed and Magical
- The Trouble With Demons
- Bewitched and Betrayed
- Con and Conjure (2011)