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Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre

November 20, 2010

Corine Solomon #1

Publisher: Roc

Publication Date: Reprint: April 7, 2009

Format: Mass Market Paperback

Status: This is the first Corine Solomon book. Blue Diablo is followed by Hell Fire, which was published in April 2010. The third book, Shady Lady, will be released on April 5, 2011.

Source: Purchased by self

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Location: Mexico and lots of places on the border. A little action takes place in San Antonio, but most of the time is spent in Loredo, Texas.

Other Info: Ann Aguirre is a busy woman. In addition to the Corine Solomon books, she is also the author of the Sirantha Jax series–which is labeled as Romantic SciFi. She writes the Skin Series (which is Paranormal Romance) under the name Ava Gray. Her YA debut, Enclave will be released on April 12, 2011. Finally, in collaboration with Carrie Lofty, she writes under the name Ellen Connor. They describe their books as “hot paranormal apocalyptic action.” Interested?

Description: (From Amazon):

Corine Solomon is a handler—when she touches an object she instantly knows its history and its future. Using her ability, she can find the missing—which is why people never stop trying to find her. Like her ex-boyfriend Chance, who needs Corine’s gift to find someone dear to them both. But the search proves dangerous as it leads them into a strange world of demons and sorcerers, ghosts and witchcraft, zombies—and black magic…

Ann Aguirre’s name came to my attention because her first YA title, Enclave, will be released in 2011. Since I have to wait for that one, I thought I’d check out some of her Urban Fantasy in the meantime. The front cover rec from Patricia Briggs sealed the deal. I can definitely say, that having read Blue Diablo, I am now doubly eager to read Enclave. I might even check out the Sirantha Jax books. Romantic Science Fiction sounds like something that would appeal to me, don’t you think?

Blue Diablo introduces us to Corine Solomon: short, a bit overweight, a pawnbroker and handler. This last attribute means that she can touch an object and “read” it. I’m not sure on the rules. What Corine seems to read is the moments when an object and a person were last together. Unfortunately for Corine, she’s not a naturally gifted person. Her gift comes from her mother, a witch who transferred her power to Corine shortly before she died. In the world of Blue Diablo, when a person’s power is “made” and not inherited, their gift comes with a price. In Corine’s case, every time she handles an object, the skin on her hands gets burned. Also, the burns are an ever-constant reminder of the fire that claimed Corine’s mother.

Once upon a time (about eighteen months ago), Corine used to live a work with a man named Chance. Chance had a gift, too: the gift of luck. Together, Chance and Corine worked to solve mysteries for money. And not in a glamorous way. They were called charlatans, harassed by the police and, ultimately, endangered. For Corine, the last straw was the case of a missing girl, one that Corine did not want to take. Chance insisted and the result was that Corine fell three stories through the floor of a burning building and spent several weeks in intensive care. Did I mention that Corine’s mother died in a fire? Yeah, you can add that to the list of traumas. Anyway, once she’d recovered, Corine decided that Chance only cared about the money she brought in and not her safety. So she picked up and relocated to Mexico.

The story begins when Chance shows up at Corine’s pawnshop, in need of a favor. His mother is missing and he wants Corine’s help finding her. Though reluctant to be drawn back into the world she left behind, Corine loved the old woman and agrees to go back to Loredo, TX with Chance. Also, Chance promises to turn his luck to helping her find her mother’s killers—which he previously refused to do. What unfolds is a journey that tests Corine’s determination not to repeat old mistakes, everything she thought she knew about both Chance and his mother, and her understanding of the magical world.

The main thing that drives the action in this novel is Chance and Corine’s quest to find out what happened to Chance’s mother and rescue her before it’s too late. But that’s kind of surface stuff. The bigger story here is Corine and her past, from her father’s disappearance to her mother’s death, and the three years she spent as Chance’s lover. Corine’s relationship with Chance gets a whole lot of attention, but it’s the sort that will drive the series instead of any one book. Nothing is resolved and they don’t really make any headway either way. Blue Diablo suffers for that, I think. It ends on entirely too vague a note for me. I’m not looking for a cliffhanger or a tidy ending, but I was left thinking, “Whaaa?”

So, while I liked the writing , I also felt like this story was just a means to an end—kind of the way the second book in a trilogy often is. It’s not the Will It Be Chance or Jesse? triangle drama that I mind. After all, I loved the same aspect of the Mercy Thompson books. Just wasn’t sure I liked either of the rivals for Corine’s affections. Chance seemed like a jerk, and I was irritated that I was supposed to think he has hidden depths and that We Just Don’t Know How Tortured He Is. It felt too much like making excuses for crummy behavior.  On the other Jesse Saldana, the empath and Corine’s mentor, wasn’t all that nice, either. He flip flopped back and forth between flirting with her to make Chance jealous and accusing Corine of dastardly crimes. That is, when he wasn’t not suggesting that they sleep together because he can sense her attraction to him and as he’s an empath, he feels it, too. I’m kind of hoping that a third, more worthy party enters the race. Corine deserves better than Chance, who isn’t willing to let her in and, in case, wants more from her than he’s willing to give in return. But she also deserves better than Jesse, who can’t decide whether he trusts her or just wants to use her. I think Chance is going to win out, though, given Corine’s internal dialog.

The aspect of this book that pleased me the most was Corine. I liked being in her head. I liked her. She was funny, self-deprecating, and still struggling to figure out what was right for her. My one problem with Corine was that I felt she was pretty foolish where Chance was concerned. I kept expecting that, at any moment, she would fall at his feet. Also, any time things got even remotely intimate between them, they were conveniently interrupted. If that hadn’t happened, Corine would have not only been at his feet, but in his bed. I wanted her to have more distance from him. He was so manipulative that I wouldn’t have been surprised if turned out he’d let her run away to Mexico as part of a grand plan to tie her more tightly to him.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series, but I don’t know how long my interest will last if Chance turns out to be the hero. I don’t know that I’d be all that happy with Jesse, either, but I’m willing to give him a chance. Heh. No joke intended. I’m giving it four points.

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