Stryke, Marie Johnston

Stryke (New Vampire Disorder Book 4) by [Johnston, Marie]

This is the second book I've read by this author, the first being Bishop, the third book in this series, and I'm totally hooked.  Stryke is captivating, sucks you into all the intensity going on in all the worlds they straddle.  I've got a soft spot for demons with soft spots and women who literally kick ass so this book definitely fits the bill.  I've also got a special place in my heart for any series where each book is awesome and not a downhill slide from the first.  If these last two books are any indication, each book from start to finish is fantastic.

Stryke picks up where Bishop left off with the Synod, demons, the fight in the prime's house with Hypna, etc.  If you haven't read anything else in the series it's okay, but you'd really understand all the connections between characters and worlds a lot better if you did.  If this is the only book you read, though, you wouldn't be disappointed.  I am glad, however, that I've got at least one more book under my belt.  I definitely want more!

So anyway, there's a breeding program among demons and Stryke's been chosen by the nastiest female he can think of.  It's a good thing he's got a bond with someone else...but if that other female finds out, all hell will break loose.  Literally.  Well, as you know, plots would not progress if secrets weren't revealed.  Stryke's hopes are dashed and he's scrambling to protect her but she really needs no help against demons, just dumpsters.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Marie Johnston is really good at inserting bits of humor into an otherwise intense story with all kinds of drama going on.

Okay, so back on topic.  After a rough encounter with a dumpster we find that Zoey is in fact in need of a rescue and it's a good thing Stryke is there to help.  The information she later learns once she comes to is less appealing to her.  It combines a ton of turmoil from her past, pain, attraction, confusion, shame, anger, and a heaping dose of "what exactly do I do now?".  They've got a lot to overcome if their bond is going to be anything other than a shame and a burden on either side of the relationship.

Over the course of the story there are incredible moments of passion and amazing chemistry as well as tenderness, acceptance, and a solid connection that is beyond what they've previously experienced.  Stryke is completely committed to Zoey and Zoey is committed to her cause.  It's all she's ever known since before the death of her true mate and she isn't sure what role Stryke will play in her life once Hypna is stopped.  She's not even sure if she actually wants him around once the dust settles.  I can't say I'm thrilled by all the denial Zoey throws all over the place, nor am I impressed that Stryke has no motivation for anything but Zoey.  It might seem self-denying (on Zoey's side) and romantic (on Stryke's side), but both of these people are just codependent on something else, not truly able to stand on their own and therefore cannot be a true partnership.  Those issues come out in a big way when they're brought before the Synod and Zoey makes Stryke do something that's pretty crushing.  My heart squeezed in sadness and frustration and I actually read that scene twice to wallow in those feelings.  A bit masochistic, I know, but I wanted to have something on the low side to balance the awesomeness of a heartfelt confession that I knew would come later.

When it came, however, it wasn't in the way I was expecting.  It was more subtle, more real for each of these characters' personalities.  Stryke was willing and eager to be what Zoey needed after he found his own cause and his own sure foundation.  Zoey was a bit of a mystery because she spent so long being loyal to a cause that he wasn't sure if she could make concessions to partner with him in life and in love.  Was she?  You bet!  Stryke brought out the truth of who Zoey really is, gave her a safe place to be herself so that when she fought for her cause she could do it with her whole self this time.  Watching the process of them coming to their own realizations and their determination to do a better job for themselves and for one another was a joy.  I liked watching everything unfold, the conclusion was absolutely satisfying.

With the asides that came from Creed and Melody we're pretty sure we know whose story is coming next and I'm excited to see Creed get what he doesn't think he wants and for Melody to be truly inducted into the DD family.

*Get to know these awesome couples by reading each of their stories!
Demetrius (New Vampire Disorder Book 1) by [Johnston, Marie] Rourke (New Vampire Disorder Book 2) by [Johnston, Marie] Bishop (New Vampire Disorder Book 3) by [Johnston, Marie] Stryke (New Vampire Disorder Book 4) by [Johnston, Marie]

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