Book Log #16: Skin Deep, by Mark Del Franco

After getting four books in on the Connor Grey series, it’s both a refreshing and a disconcerting change of pace to jump over into the Laura Blackstones, the new series Del Franco is spinning off. This series is set in the same universe, but featuring a new protagonist, the druidess Laura Blackstone, a covert operative who operates under three, count ’em, three different identities at once for the Guild. And when an op she’s on under one of her covers goes horribly, horribly wrong, Laura has to investigate exactly what happened–and run the risk of losing not only that cover identity, but her actual life as well.

Familiar as I am with Del Franco’s style after four books of the Connor Greys, this one was a bit of a hard go at first. It’s clearly meant to be not only the first book of a new series, but also one geared to pull in readers not already familiar with the Connor Greys. If you are already familiar with them, then a good bit of the beginning is redundant exposition, and this for me was frustrating to slog through. Moreover–and this took me several chapters before I finally realized what was going on–Del Franco’s writing this series in third person rather than in first, perhaps to help give it its own voice distinct from the Connor books.

This is both effective and distancing. On the one hand, it does indeed make this feel more like a distinct series, but on the other hand, it makes Laura Blackstone feel less immediate to me as a character. I’m not sure how much of this is simply the third person writing, and how much of it is Del Franco’s comfort level with writing a female protagonist. But since there’s stuff to like here, including a suitably engaging story and chemistry full of promise between Laura and her love interest (who gets major points for being fey and neither vampire nor werewolf nor even Sidhe), I’ll be coming back for more when Book Two is available. Three stars.

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Angela Korra'ti

As Angela Highland, Angela is the writer of the Rebels of Adalonia epic fantasy series with Carina Press. As Angela Korra'ti, she writes the Free Court of Seattle urban fantasy series. She's also an amateur musician and devoted fan of Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music.