This was a very interesting and unique foray into the world of magic noir, or noir occult detective fantasy fiction. Corine Solomon is a fairly conflicted, and troubled character. Her mother was a practicing witch who was essentially burned to death by the suspicious and intolerant townspeople in Kilmer, Georgia. Before she died, her mom endowed her with her power, in the form of the ability to read objects. However, it comes at signficant cost to Corine. She bears the scars of the readings on her hands and fingers. Scars to match those deep in her soul.
After she almost died on one of their cases, Corine cut out in the middle of the night, leaving her boyfriend and business partner, Chance behind. She left because she didn't believe he loved her, and that he was just using her for her abilities. She left because she let him in and paid the price. In her life, Corine learned that caring for others is a losing proposition. And Chance messed her up too much inside. So she fled to Mexico, running a pawn shop, and living as close to a normal life as was possible for her.
But, eighteen months later, Chance shows up. His mother has been kidnapped, and he needs her special gift to find her. Chance has a special gift of his own, incredible luck. Unfortunately, his luck isn't so good for those around him. That, and Chance is just way too self-controlled and distant for her, despite being gorgeous and her weakness emotionally. They strike a deal, she helps him find his mother, he helps her get revenge against the people who killed her mother. And, it's just business. Their relationship is over, or so Corine says.
This story twists and turns, and shows a side of Texas very familiar to me. The aspects of Mexican culture ring very true to someone who's spent a fair amount of time in that environment, and add to this story like the spice of chili powder. Corine is a narrator who is not always nice and kind and neat, but she sneaks in on you, so well that you end up liking her for all her flaws. Chance is delicious--dapper, half-Korean, completely intriguing, and very much in love with Corine, but unsure how to show it. He's the enigmatic guy who sounds great on paper, but probably isn't the best boyfriend. But what in life is perfect? I wanted Corine to forgive him, even seeing his flaws. There's also interesting secondary characters, such as Chance's friend Chucho, and his wife, Eva, who help this couple in many important ways; Jesse, who's a cop in Laredo with a gift for empathy. He appoints himself as Corine's mentor in the world of the gifted, but he wants to be more. Maybe, Corine wants more too. Sex is not an issue, but falling in love is. Can she have all the wild, crazy sex with Jesse, and avoid falling into the trap of loving Chance? And there's a killer who considers himself the hand of God. Is he going to help or hinder Corine and Chance in their search for his mother?
Normally, I don't like my noir urban fantasy too filled with romantic angst, but it was well done and fitting in this story. After all, Corine's life is very turbulent, and that's a big part of her life. I have to say it really added to this story. I have a feeling her future will always be entwined with Chance, and that's not such a bad thing to me.
The magic and occult aspects were very intriguing. There were some parts that were borderline scary. I think Ms. Aguirre told a great story of dark magic being used to further the criminal enterprises of those who prey on the strange entity that is the border of Mexico and Texas. I had little trouble believing that the cartels would hire witches and warlocks to employ sorcerous magic to keep business going.
If I had a complaint, I think that the tension could have been sustained in some of the suspenseful moments. The execution tended to be somewhat anti-climatic. Otherwise, this was a great foray into the dark world of bordertown Texas and Mexico, where magic is alive and well. Corine is a character I got invested in, and I definitely want to read more stories with her. And I hope that Chance stays in the picture. He's quite a character, himself.