The Better Part of Darkness
Kelly Gay
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Buy *The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan, Book 1)* by Kelly Gay

The Better Part of Darkness (Charlie Madigan, Book 1)
Kelly Gay
416 pages
November 2009
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Kelly Gay's The Better Part of Darkness was a RITA Finalist at 2010’s RWA National Conference both for Best First Book and Novel with Strong Romantic Elements. Nonetheless, while any novel up for multiple awards has some real magic going on, not every potential reader will like it. So how does the first book in the "Charlie Madigan" series stack up?

Speculation over whether or not aliens exist finally ceased when two worlds - Elysia and Charbydon - were found through an unexpected twist-of-fate during a science experiment. Elysia is as close to the heaven most humans have imagined, but its angelic population—graced with amazing powers though they may be—are pointedly standoffish, with little interest or tolerance for the lesser beings of the other two worlds. Charbydon, on the other hand, more closely resembles the nine circles of hell. Its various treacherous races vary only in degrees of dark, dangerous, and evil. With the populations of the three worlds uniting on earth, the major metropolises are becoming hotspots for the chaotic. Finding The Better Part of Darkness is more complicated than ever.

Atlanta P.D.’s Integration Task Force comprises elite mixed teams—one alien and one human per team—dealing with a whole new level of evil knocking on their door: Ash, an as-yet unidentified substance responsible for the instantaneous shutdown of a victim’s body resulting in death. The body count is rising, and Charlie Madigan just got the wrong incentive with the right punch. She and her Elysian partner, Hank, are ready to make some heads roll, literally, to get this Ash out of Atlanta. Solving the problem is nothing is ever as easy as it sounds.

A recently reincarnated divorcee and nightmare-plagued mother with a gun and an attitude already sounds more than a little scary, but Charlie has also been manifesting some hair-raising powers, too. When she's in some very deadly situations, how does Charlie manage to get herself out of the impossible? As the hunt for the Ash deepens into a fight for sanity and life, the answers to Charlie’s maddening little secrets will be revealed. Did Alice really want to fall down the rabbit hole into the mad, mad world of wonderland? Charlie’s excursions into chaos seem as hesitant yet determined as Alice’s. Hope she wakes up as relatively unscathed.

New heroines in combative roles are always fun to read. Charlie Madigan is coming into her own reincarnating into a body with a whole new set of rules. This first book shows her strength and blossoming transformation into what will be. The unique character support and creative settings help tremendously in making Charlie one of the elite among comparable heroines like author Jeanine Frost’s kick-butt beauty Cat, or Linda Robertson’s mystical wonder Persephone.

The Darkest Edge of Dawn is primed to debut the new Charlie: more confident, more prepared, and totally taken off her guard. Suspense runs high, as do expectations for the new events hinted at as the first book ends. Relationship crises swirl, new and old players join the mix, and there's that troublesome little problem that Charlie brought upon Atlanta. Ah, those RITA nods are definitely deserved with the arpeggio of thrills Kelly Gay delivers—more please!

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Sonia R. Polinsky, 2010

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