The Haunting – Robin T. Popp

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Random flashes of unearthly light. Ominous messages written on steamy mirrors. Assailants lurking in shadows. Mai’s hallucinations are becoming a little too real – the last one almost killed her. She’s faced ancient demons and rogue vampires, but this kind of dark magic is more powerful than any she’s seen. Mai also senses someone else trying to help her, a dream walker who comes in the night to soothe her fears. And fulfill her wildest fantasies. But who is he? As the danger and desire escalate, Mai is determined to find him—for only together can they stop…THE HAUNTING.

Mai Groves hasn’t been herself since she helped her friends and the Immortals save Tain from the Ancient Demon that was holding him captive. The magic she possesses as a wood nymph is disappearing. She’s suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), seeing things, having anxiety attacks and black outs. Determined to get back in the game as a reporter she has stumbled upon a story that will re-launch her career with ease.
When her neighbor disappears, she calls in the help of Nick Blackhawk who is not only a security specialist but also a spirit walker. A walker of the spiritual dimensions such as the realms of dreams and wishes. He’s also a chameleon, which means he can shift into almost any living creature. His past has made him weary of love, seeing his mother walk out on him and his father he doesn’t believe in true love and is happy going through life enjoying the sensualities of it but never committing to one woman. Until he meets Mai and recognizes in her his spirit mate.
The attraction between them is immediate and strong but Mai has no time for romance when she’s fighting to find out what is real and what is hallucination.
One thing is sure, there’s more to it when she discovers someone doesn’t want her to tell the story and something evil is after her.

Just like Mac in the previous Immortals book, Mai is another character suffering from the effects and aftershocks of saving Tain from the Ancient. Her personality has gone from bubbly and lively to someone who is careful and almost scared of her own shadow. This doesn’t prevent her from going after the things she wants; she is just not as carefree about it as before. She yearns for someone to love and to love her back and in Nick she finds him but of course not without having to solve the usual complications first.

Nick is a great hero. He was strong, sensual, and protective and his powers are very extraordinary. He was the character who captured my attention in this book and kept it throughout the whole book. Mai caught my attention in Popp’s other book in the series but because of her disorder her lively personality that I liked so much in THE DARKENING didn’t surface until the second part of the book.
Despite the instant attraction between Mai and Nick, their dialogues are fierce and snappy. Mai is as sarcastic and sharp as Nick is and this provides some fiery conversations with humorous remarks going back and forth. Their first meeting is my favorite scene of the book.

The most significant secondary characters are the bad guys of the book and for fear of spoiling too much I can’t tell much about them. You’ll have to read for yourself. But one secondary character that definitely also caught my eye was Dave Runningbear, Nick’s best friend and roommate. He is a delightful secondary character and I think it’s a pity his story will not be a full-length book but a novella in the anthology coming next year. I hope said novella will do him justice.

Even though I’m glad with the additional Immortal books, after reading the last two additions to the series I must be honest and admit they do not add anything special to the series. The last two books by no way equal the impact that the first five books in the series had on me and that’s a bit disappointing. I think I had higher expectations and those expectations were not met.
However I will give my opinion of the book in this review as a stand-alone and let my rating reflect the position of the book in the series.

THE HAUNTING took me into a world of spiritual planes and dream realms, which was truly fascinating. Without noticing it I took in a lot of information about spirit realms, dream realms and auras. In the beginning I thought the romance part of the book would have to give way to the plotline. I thought the romance was going to be clean cut and simple where the plot was layered and more complicated but about halfway through Popp gave the romance a nice and unexpected twist, making Nick sweat a little, and me with him.

I also enjoyed the way Popp started with two different storylines and in the end brought them together in a good, believable and satisfactory conclusion.

I liked that of the three additional Immortal books, this one gave the most attention to the couple that starred in the author’s previous Immortal book. In this case Lexi and Darius. They made quite an impressive appearance in the book and proved to be crucial to the plot. This is something I missed in Joy Nash’s second book and in Jennifer Ashley’s books following THE CALLING.

The book was not that intense, neither emotionally nor action wise and yet I kept wanting to go back to it every minute I could. It had the ability to keep me engaged without being heavily emotional or providing thrilling action. I suspect the main reasons for its compelling power were the way the plot was set up and worked out and the sparkling and easy dialogues. Not to mention the big pull Nick had for me as the hero. I thought I liked Tain the most in this series but his place has been taken over by Nick Blackhawk.

My honest opinion at this moment is that the series should’ve ended with Tain’s book and maybe a new (connected) series should’ve been marketed for Mac and Mai’s stories, linked to the Immortals series. Maybe that way, expectations would have been different. I know mine would have been.
Don’t get me wrong: as stand alone books this book, like Joy Nash’s THE CROSSING, is a great book, but viewed in the Immortals series it doesn’t reach the level of the Jennifer Ashley books or the other Robin T. Popp book in the series.

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