Blue Diablo is the first novel in the Corine Solomon urban fantasy series by Ann Aguirre (it is due to be released on April 7). According to Aguirre’s website, the next two books will be called Hell Fire and Shady Lady and will be released in April 2010 and April 2011, respectively. I have read Aguirre’s first two novels in the Jax science fiction series and found both to be very entertaining, fast-paced stories that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish – so I knew I had to read Blue Diablo when I first heard about it. Although I still slightly prefer the Jax books, this was a new story that contained many of the elements I enjoyed about the other series and I’ll still be picking up any novel Aguirre writes as soon as I can get a hold of it.
For the last eighteen months, Corine Solomon has managed to leave her old life behind and is happy living a quiet life running a pawn shop in Mexico. She still fears someone from her past will some day find her – a fear that comes true when the main reason she left, her ex-boyfriend Chance, shows up at her store. Corine has no intention of having anything to do with Chance again, even though she still has feelings for him, until she learns the news that someone very important to both of them mysteriously disappeared. Since Corine is a handler, someone who can touch an item and discern its history, she has helped find missing persons in the past and may be the only chance they have of locating this missing person.
In spite of her concern about the situation, Corine is still hesitant to join forces with Chance once again. The two of them used to work together to solve cases, and Corine left after she almost died because Chance insisted they could handle a particularly dangerous opponent. Because of this, Corine came to the conclusion that Chance only cared about her for the income from her ability and took off in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye. But Chance is no ordinary man himself with his talent of luck and offers to use his extraordinary skill to get her the revenge she has always wanted in return for her aid.
Blue Diablo is a short, absorbing book that kept me turning the pages. Although it is urban fantasy with a mystery and romance, it did not contain the typical paranormal creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, and fae. The fantasy elements were black magic, sorcerers and witches, ghosts, and people with abilities.
This book is very similar in style to the novels in the Jax series. The story is told from the first person point of view of the heroine, who has a humorous tone to her narrative. The chapters end on a cliffhanger or with a phrase that doesn’t explain exactly what happened so you want to start the next chapter right away. There is not a large amount of backstory or setup before it starts getting interesting and draws you in. Immediately, we know that Corine has a dark past that she is trying to stay away from, and only 4 pages in, Chance shows up and turns her life upside down. There is no time wasted in getting to the heart of what the story is about – solving the mystery and Corine’s struggles with her past, her ability, and the man she cares for but feels she can’t be with.
Also like the Jax books, the characters are broken people who have had hard lives and any power they have comes with a price. During her childhood, Corine gained psychometry as a gift from her mother, who passed it on to her when their house was deliberately burned down. Every single time Corine uses her ability, her hands literally burn and she remembers her mother’s death and the guilt of obeying her mother’s wish that Corine get out of there as fast as possible, even if it means leaving her behind. Likewise, Chance has good luck, which sounds like it really can’t go wrong. Who wouldn’t like their life to be full of occurrences such as randomly running into people who owe them tons of money when they could really use the cash? However, he also attracts chaos and although he’s fortunate enough to escape the consequences, the people he cares about who are with him do not – and he can do nothing about it since it’s something that happens to him naturally and he can’t just stop being lucky.
This novel did have more focus on romantic relationships than the Jax books. Chance wants to get Corine back, but she doesn’t feel that getting back together with him would be very smart. Meanwhile, she’s getting to know a hunky empath who can teach her about being gifted, but she’s not sure if he is truly attracted to her or only thinks he is since he can feel her attraction to him. I did enjoy the romance, but at times, I found it rather wearisome when Corine would go on and on about how hot one of the guys looked.
The main mystery plot is wrapped up by the end of the book, although there is certainly plenty of room for sequels. I did think the ending was a bit rushed and anti-climactic since it was resolved in one short chapter.
Blue Diablo is another exciting page turner from Ann Aguirre. The conclusion was a bit weak and there was sometimes a bit too much focus on descriptions of physical attraction for my personal taste, but I still had so much fun reading it that I can hardly wait for the next one.