Burning Skies
by Caris Roane
(St. Martin's, $7.99, R) ISBN 978-0-312-53372-4
Burning Skies is the second novel in Caris Roane's hidden world of Second Earth, filled with winged vampires, telepathy, war, and magic.

Marcus Amargi used to live on Second Earth and fight to protect humankind from a multitude of evils. Then, life got incredibly complicated and hard and he fled for the life of a businessman on Earth, trying to salve his soul with the thought that he was contributing to the human economy and providing many job opportunities. Recently, Endelle, Second Earthís Supreme High Administrator has been hassling Marcus to return to Second Earth permanently to fulfill his duty as a Guardian to fight to protect people from the death vamp armies bent on destruction.

Marcus has very little interest in returning to Second Earth, as the last time he visited, it was a bit of a disaster. He met Havily Morgan there, a newly ascended vampire, and the attraction was instant as well as overwhelming. Since that time, Havily's haunted every one of Marcus' dreams. The dreams are incredibly erotic and seem real until Marcus wakes up alone and tormented, night after night.

Suddenly, Marcus finds out that Havily's in serious danger on Second Earth, and without hesitation, he goes to her to protect her. He finds out that Havily's been sharing his unfulfilled dreams, and their chemistry and mutual lust quickly spirals out of control. This is very complicated by the fact that Havily sees Marcus as a vile, spineless deserter of the Guardians. She doesn't like him, but she definitely lusts for him.

Havily has a lot of self-hatred for this lust as she's lived fairly celibately since her husband died. Her life was so much less complex then. Now, she has to deal with her baffling feelings for Marcus, develop her surprising newfound abilities and try to hide from scary, bloodthirsty enemies. Marcus might be able to protect her for a time, but she doesnít trust that he'll stick around for any length of time, so she has to figure out a back up plan, and fast.

Marcus and Havily were a smoking hot leading couple in Burning Skies, trapped in a pretty scary and highly unusual world.

If you like your romance steamy, then this is a must read for you. The pages were on fire from the first chapter onward. Also - cursing warning. If youíre not a raw dialogue type of reader, this might not be quite your style.

Marcus Amargi manages to be our tortured, vulnerable hero and warrior-like savior all at once in this story, and it works. The deeper Roane works into his background, the more his opposite choices make sense to the reader. He's likeable and super sexy all throughout the tale.

Havily, on the other hand is a bit of a whiner. She has no strength and very little gumption, which quickly annoyed me. Sometimes, other characters ascribe her traits that she never seems to act out. At one point, sheís celebrated to have saved a characterís life but what she actually did amounts to very little. In general, I couldn't figure out why Marcus found her so enthralling and I had to chalk in up to bedroom points.

Lastly, the relationship between the two of them: while it was very steamy, there is little else to recommend it. I loved the dream connection at the beginning, I was so drawn in and wondering where it would head. Unfortunately, that was the best part of the whole book. When Marcus and Havily meet, they jump into bed, argue some, donít understand each other much, and donít communicate very much. All in all, itís tedious to listen to someone else's relationship unravel. It's even a bit of a stretch to call it a relationship, since the emotional connection is so lacking here.

So, if you want a bit of a fluffy sexual romp, go for Burning Skies this summer. If you want depth of character, check out a Lisa Kleypas novel instead.

--Amy Wroblewsky

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