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WesternSFA
Forged in Fire
by J.A. Pitts
Tor/Tom Doherty, $16.99, TPB, 428pp
Release Date: July 23, 2013
This is the third novel in a series about a female blacksmith, Sarah, who, while trying to figure out her personal relationship with her girlfriend, Katie, also has to figure out why she seems to have an ancient sword forged to kill dragons.

The author did manage to pull a lot of loose threads together in this latest story. It opens with a dramatic scene – Sarah and Katie track and kill a foraging troll and then find and adopt her two orphaned babies. After discovering that the troll’s only crime was a bit of petty thievery to care for her babies, Sarah experiences a bit of guilt and starts considering whether all monsters are necessarily bad. There’s a bit more with the SCA folk investigating some magical artifacts in their possession but not enough to explain anything. And then there’s a lot about several young women being butchered. The police can’t find a link but Sarah discovers she knew them all. Finally, when a horse at one of the ranches she works is also butchered, she finds hidden magical messages directed at her; as if the author knew she existed but not exactly who or where she was. And, no surprise: the killer is the psychopath who tortured the blacksmith, Anezka, and broke her mind in the last book. And he’s up to his old tricks, finding a new young woman willing to be seduced and convinced to do his bidding. Although he might have bit off more than he could chew.

This was better plotted than the two previous books; the author is learning. I was pretty happy with the characterizations, as well; although, it’s way past time to give the reader a little insight into the witch, Qindra. The author does have a tendency to spotlight a character, then drop them for chapters or even a whole book. I can see why but it feels like a lack…I’d like to, at least, know where they are even if they aren’t doing anything. And there was way too much sex for my tastes. I don’t mind it if it adds to the story or the character’s development but I don’t see a need for the characters to constantly assert their sexual preference and kiss in every scene. It tends to slow the story down. I hope this story ends with the next book because it’s being drawn out unnecessarily. ~~ Catherine Book

Book 1 Black Blade Blues
Book 2 Honeyed Words

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