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From Merrimon Book Reviews
Familiar Stranger
Familiar Stranger (Dark Enchantments) by Michele Hauf
by Michele Hauf
Unique and refreshing paranormal romance
Publisher: Silhouette Nocturne (August 2007)
Series: Dark Enchantments

Michele Hauf's Familiar Stranger is the first book in the Silhouette Nocturne paranormal romance series Dark Enchantments. The world building set up for the series by the author is carefully drawn so that the reader easily imagines the setting and the conflicts. The hero and heroine both will steal the reader's heart.

Jack Harris was recruited by the P-Cell, an elite and covert paranormal section of MI-5, the British Secret Service, to hunt and destroy demons. Jack is a modern day Rambo armed with all the weapons and gadgets needed to fight demons: an M4 carbine grenade launcher complete with salt grenades, an electromagnetic-field gauge with GPS function to create maps of the ley line gates of demon entry, a flame-resistant black shirt and trousers, a Dragon Skin vest made from Kevlar, a night-vision scope, a combat knife, salt spray and a silver dagger tipped with a UV cartridge. Jack is more, so much more than the typical Rambo figure. He has heart, charisma, innocence and depth.

Mersey Bane works for the Cadre, a hermetic organization that traps demons in order to study them. Mersey carries with her a crystal triangle that captures demons alive to return them to the scholars of the hidden Cadre. The Rambo tactics of the P-cell receive nothing but disdain from the Cadre. The two organizations are rivals and enemies in their methods and philosophy. Mersey not only works for the Cadre, but it was a substitute for family, a family from whom she desires independence and to which she feels loyalty. When Jack and Mersey meet on the rooftop in a battle with a demon, the attraction is is undeniable. Can the two find a way through the enmity of the these two organizations to save on another from a deadly demon and find their hearts? Can Jack and Mersey uncover their secrets and their hidden vulnerability in time? Can the love of destined mates survive the battle between warring organizations?

Michele Hauf's unique vision and writing will grab the reader from beginning to end. The characters are dynamic, eclectic, independent and yet full of wonder and heart. The connection between Jack and Mersey is passionate, soulful and suspenseful---humorous, deep and wonderful. One opens the other to a new dimension. The author pays careful attention to the rules of the altered world she has created without resorting to a quick sleight of hand to resolve plot or character intricacies.

Readers may take pause at the ending. Michele Hauf definitely adds a surprise or two within the context of a romance. A happy ending goes along with the romance genre as a reader expectation, but Michele Hauf makes her characters and readers work a bit harder for it rather than a simplistic ending tied up in a pretty bow. Readers may love or hate the ending once they reach the last word but upon further examination the ending may grow more and more on the reader. After contemplating the difference between the real ending and the expected but more more simplistic option, readers may discover the unique thrill of this romance. It expands beyond the book covers. It pushes the set boundaries of the genre just enough to make a familiar genre unique and refreshing and newly meaningful. Can a romance be more than a struggle against two individual partners or even their inner conflicts as individuals? Brava!

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews
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