Pros: Wonderful & unusual world-building; captivatingly sexy & emotional
Cons: Perhaps the beginning was a little slow
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review copy (ebook/novella) courtesy of the author.
Visit Shiloh Walker online.
Greta is on the hunt. She can feel her quarry pulling at her: Mandy, a young woman in trouble—or perhaps a young woman who is trouble. Sometimes it can be hard to tell which until it’s too late. Greta’s job is to keep Mandy from falling prey to evil, and to kill Mandy otherwise. That’s the part of her job that sucks the most. At least she has a few gifts to help her with that job: a bit of an edge in the strength & speed department, not to mention immortality. Oh yeah, and she also has Rip. Rip is like Greta, only he’s in town on his own job. He’s been longing to spend more time with Greta for the last hundred years, however, so he’ll do whatever it takes to make time to help her out. And it’s a good thing, too, because the forces lined up to trap Mandy are awfully tough ones.
Greta and Rip are just two of many—guardian angels who call themselves the Grimm. They’ve covered up their existence by turning their stories into fairy tales, fiction, such as the story of Hansel and Gretel. Only of course, the reality behind the fairy tale is often much, much grimmer than the story.
As is probably obvious by the synopsis above, the premise of Shiloh Walker’s Candy Houses really caught at me. Greta’s tale is far darker and more painful than you’d imagine from the story of Hansel & Gretel, and it’s left her, like many of the Grimm, a bit damaged. Yet how better to empathize with and work to save those who might appeal to demons?
Rip is in love with Greta, and has been for a long time. For her part, she feels a relationship with him would be impossible. He shows so little emotion, and his presence distracts her terribly from her important work. It could never work out—could it?
Mandy is caught in a maelstrom of influences, all of them aimed at her. She’s tough and she’s been hurt, and she has some gifts of her own, but she’s vulnerable. She could open herself up to a demon, or she could do good with what she has. Only she can make that choice, and Greta doesn’t have long to convince her. It was hard enough to convince Greta herself back when the world was older and fairy tales didn’t seem so unlikely, but in the modern era? How could a tale of good vs. evil seem anything but insane to Mandy?
As it is that’s plenty of plot and character to keep a novella hopping, but Shiloh has a few other surprises up her sleeve to keep things interesting. Perhaps the beginning was slightly slow (although that’s nit-picking), and maybe one fight was over a little quickly, but I’m not even sure I’d go that far. The relationship between Rip and Greta is gorgeous. The sex is incredibly hot—frankly I read enough erotic romance that many sex scenes just come off as kind of average by this point, but the ones in this book definitely got to me. I was sniffling when I got to the end of the story. This is a wonderful tale and I’m glad I read it!