I'm pacing myself on these books, because the first one was just so very good. And this one was just as good.
Summary: A couple of months after the events in book one, Kate is still scraping by. She's finding a balance between life as a mercenary with working for the Order, both organizations being the cleanup squads for supernatural events, but one private and the other official, with all the red tape and organization that goes along with it. And that fragile balance is thrown off entirely by an approaching huge magic flare and Kate's inadvertently saddling herself with an adolescent waif who seems to be a target for some really bad-ass demonic creatures and whoever is controlling them. And of course this lands her smack back in the lap of the Pack.
My take: Reviewing a book I love is so much harder than one I don't. When something sets my teeth on edge, it's usually easy to spot, and certainly no book is perfect and there are a couple of moments like that in this one. For instance, despite the admonition that the magic flare makes keeping control difficult for the weres, Curran takes being a glorious bastard to entirely new heights when he tells Kate she not only will sleep with him, but she'll say please before and thank you after. The only saving grace to that little scene is that Kate makes a snappy exit, and by the end of the book, although she and Curran are on decent terms, she's still not his little purring kitty cat doing as she's told.
Which is, in fact, one really great thing about this series. It's got that early Moonlighting vibe, the tension is so thick you could cut it with Kate's sword, but she's just got too much going on. Even if it's been two years since she got some.
Another odd thing about this is the hints that Max Crest, Kate's erstwhile love interest from the first book, would turn out to be someone sinister. I was half expecting him to be the big bad of this tale. That was either the reddest red herring ever, or there is something coming up later. And I do expect it will come up because practically everyone still alive at the end of Magic Bites returns here, or at least gets a mention. The continuity is great, nothing is forgotten, if it's been mentioned.
There are some intriguing hints to the untold story of Kate's childhood too. She certainly has had something to do with the witches before, she has vague memories she can't place, and a helpful voice (a memory or something else?) that acts as a conscience at a crucial moment. And the witches recognized her, not just by reputation either.
The actual plot involves some rather muddled mythology, possibly because Kate misunderstands it (as she points out, nobody can keep all the deities and demons straight, as long as you get the big picture and know where to look up the details.)
It also occurs to me that if deities run on their worshipers faith like gas, and since the ones who conjured up this particular nightmare were a bit confused, perhaps the deity that resulted was a bit of a pastiche too. But more likely because the author did (other reviewers with more expertise in that area have covered that much more thoroughly than I can, all I know of irish mythology is Cú Chulainn and that story of the wolfhound that saves the baby and is killed by mistake. Neither of whom make an appearance here. Maybe if Kate ever runs up against norse or Southern polynesian deities, I'll be able to critique the mythology a bit more. But it's a fine line to tread, bringing something "real world" into a fictional world.
So, that's about all the bad, or at least wobbly bits, and really they are quite minor. The new characters are a hoot, Julie the waif may be just what Kate needs - her own childhood was less than peachy, so maybe this is a way for her to experience it again, but better. Albeit not perfect, since Julie is an orphan who grew up below the poverty line, and isn't exactly sunshine and unicorns herself. It's still a lot more normal than Kate ever had though!
The relationship between Kate and Curran can probably only end one way, again like Moonlighting, but I like that it's not a big rush. And that they make each other completely crazy, and not only in good ways. The frustration they spark in each other makes for some of the best dialogue in a book entirely full of awesome dialogue. Which is another thing worth mentioning: Kate is absolutely queen of snark and witty banter, but usually not so stupid as to let them actually fall out of her mouth in the moments they'll only get her into more trouble. Would that more fantasy heroines had her restraint! Instead we often have her running mental commentary of things she'd like to say but doesn't, and she's a blast.
Anyway, I'm just kind of rambling, and I don't think I have a point. Just go find this series, and read the first book and see if you don't fall in love with Kate as much as I have.