Cipher (Southern Arcana, #4)

CipherBy Moira Rogers

Publisher: Samhain Publishers, Ltd.
Publication Date: September 6, 2011
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Source: Author

Fourteen months ago, Kat Gabriel’s life changed forever when she used her empathy as a weapon. Now she can’t escape the weight of those deaths–or the loss of the easy friendship she and Andrew once shared. Obsessed with her mother’s violent past, Kat is determined to learn the truth of her inner-darkness by understanding her legacy.

Since the attack that turned him into a wolf, Andrew Callaghan has done everything possible to make himself stronger. More capable of protecting Kat–both from the supernatural world that forced her to kill, and from their own volatile connection. Pushing her away hurt them both, but he’s finally made himself into the protector she needs.

As Kat’s quest leads her into the darkest underbelly of the psychic world, Andrew is determined to be at her side. But every step forward reopens old emotional wounds and shakes their control. For a dangerous alpha and a deadly psychic, distraction could be fatal–especially when the greatest threat they pose is to each other.

Goodreads Summary

When Andrew Callaghan was attacked and changed into a werewolf more than a year ago, his budding relationship with Kat Gabriel changed irrevocably. In her terror and rage, she used her psychic powers to turn the brains of their attackers to mush. Just as Andrew was transformed from a carefree young architect into a violent, powerful shapeshifter, Kat was no longer seen as just a sweet girl whose empathic abilities usually required protecting. She became a weapon to be feared, even by those close to her – because of Andrew’s volatile reaction to being changed and Kat’s instability, everyone close to the couple decided they needed to be kept apart and eventually even Andrew agreed.

Kat’s been searching for years for information about her long-dead mother who was part of a radical cult. She’s finally turned up some results and makes plans to meet her source, but the informant wants a guarantee of sanctuary from one of the Council heads before she’ll hand over what she has, so Andrew volunteers to take her. Things go wrong with their meeting with the contact but rather than giving up and going home, Andrew pledges to stay with Kat and follow the trail of information she had.

I can’t even imagine how big the chart is that Rogers (the duo of Donna and Bree) must have to keep track of the Southern Arcana world at this point, but it got quite a bit bigger with this book. I’m always impressed with the consistency that carries through from book to book – while each can be read as a standalone, characters from each book also weave in and out of the others and storylines keep threading through and intersecting. It’s quite a complicated world. What struck me as something different about Cipher is that there’s not really anything political about the storyline. There aren’t any territorial fights or Council intrigue. This is “just” a sexy paranormal thriller inside the Southern Arcana setting. It just happens to involve a couple that fans of the series have been waiting to see together for a few books now. No pressure.

Because I’d been anticipating this book for so long, it was easy to forget that Andrew and Kat really weren’t a couple before he’d been turned. Their “romance” over the span of the series has consisted mostly of them feeling forced apart by circumstances – it wasn’t until both of them admitted it that even I got it and it changed the way I felt. This wasn’t a story of them resuming a fated romance that everyone else had thwarted for more than a year – this was Andrew and Kat finally having a chance to begin a relationship. Just a few short scenes and my perspective of where they were with each other changed.  They still had a lot of baggage to get through, but it wasn’t because of a broken love affair.

I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the other books in the series to get the emotional punch of Andrew and Kat’s relationship. This is a couple with additional issues anyway who haven’t touched at all since his transformation – it’s all new, scary and because of the way they can’t just do what they want because of Kat’s empathic issues, it’s even sexier. In protecting each other, it just reinforces how much they care and gives even a reader who hasn’t had the same background information a sense of their past and what they’ve had to hold back.  It’s very, very hot – have-a-glass-of-water nearby hot.

The emotional story was quite a bit more interesting than the action, which sometimes didn’t seem to flow that well with the rest of the story.  The bad guys would come after Kat and Andrew hard then would sort of disappear for a while.  There were pieces of information that I didn’t understand and I’m still not sure who was responsible.  I will say that the action at the end was great though, exactly as it should have been for Kat and Andrew’s awesome combined power.  It was pretty exciting stuff.

My Summary: The way Andrew and Kat’s relationship resolves is perfect for them, their unique situation and their book, which is a little bit different from the others in the Southern Arcana series.  There are some nice appearances by the other couples and family from the past books but they’re balanced by time spent with new friends that I really like that will be equally important moving forward.  I waited a little impatiently to get to Kat and Andrew’s story and enjoyed reading something that didn’t give me what I expected but gave me what was exactly right for the characters.

My Rating: B+

Barbara

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