Personal Demon is the eighth book in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series and it might be my favorite. It is definitely in the top three. It starts out as Hope's story, then brings in Lucas and Paige and a whole lot of cabal trouble.
Hope is a half-demon who feeds on chaos. As superpowers go, it is not much of a power. If anything, it is more like a terrible drug trip. When Hope is caught up in chaos she forgets everyone and everything around her and can only think about getting more chaos. The one benefit of her chaos power is that it allows Hope to see visions, snippets of the violence that led to the chaos. If a person died peacefully Hope sees nothing. But if a person died violently Hope can pick up his or her last moments, perhaps even seeing the killer and solving a murder.
Lucas Cortez is the reluctant heir of the Cortez cabal. The cabals are more or less supernatural mafia style organizations headed by a powerful family. Lucas grew up idolizing his father Benecio and the cabal he ran until he realized just what the cabal was. It isn't all bad. The cabals have created a safe place for supernaturals to connect and utilize their powers away from humans who would be sure to persecute them if they knew supernaturals existed. In return, they demand total loyalty and punish betrayers severely.
Lucas who is the fourth child and the illegitimate son of Benecio, has done his best to distance himself from his father's business. Worse, or better depending on one's perspective, Lucas uses his legal and other skills to defend potential victims of the cabal. Not surprisingly, many members of the Cortez cabal as well as members of the other cabals dislike Lucas, seeing him as a threat to their way of life. Benecio, however, hasn't given up on the idea of bringing his son into the fold. He's willing to make some changes to business practices but he is still the ruler of an empire and being a ruler requires making tough (which may mean bloody) decisions. Benecio has gone so far as to declare his youngest son as his heir, over the objections of not only Lucas but his three older sons.
What I look for in the Women of the Otherworld series is romance and strong women kicking ass. Typically the heroine is (1) dealing with relationship issues whether it is falling in love or figuring out the next step after falling, (2) trying to master or improve her supernatural gifts, and (3) solving a mystery or other problem, all the while trying to stay alive as the third task usually results in someone trying to kill her or someone she loves. Personal Demon has all of the above and more. It begins with a simple sounding assignment: Benecio wants Hope to infiltrate a local gang who has been agitating against the
cabals and figure out what their deal is. Lucas has always refused to
work for his father on principle. However, when his friend Hope is called in repay a debt she owes to Benecio, Lucas and his wife Paige agree to oversee the investigation in case Hope needs help.
The gang that has been causing trouble for the Cortez cabal turns out to pose a much bigger and different threat than anyone imagined. Armstrong introduces a new kind of half demon, one who can impersonate other people quite effectively. Lucas moves closer to becoming the head of the cabal whether he wants to or not. Equally surprising is the development in Hope's love life. Karl is the lone wolf who remained an outsider even after joining the werewolf pack. Their past was hinted at in the prior book and in this book, their relationship takes a great leap forward.
Personal Demon is one of the best entries in the Women of the Otherworld series. Strangely, it isn't so much that I liked Hope (usually it is the heroine that draws me in). I mean, Hope is a great character but what really drew me in was the overall plot. This book did a good job of advancing the series overall. I suspect Lucas will be forced to make a decision about his involvement with the Cortez cabal soon whether he wants to or not. I also suspect the guy who can impersonate anyone will resurface and further doubt Hope and Karl are going to live happily ever after, at least not yet. Can't wait.