There are a bunch of kick-ass, dark heroines around now, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Mejean Brook’s Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth from The Iron Duke, or Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk and Steele series heroines come to mind when I think of dark, tortured women. I love them—their trials and backstories, the internal hurdles they face while fighting the external battles. There’s something so evocative about a woman with a past, with scars and fears she has to overcome, who often is resistant to love, usually with damn good reason. These are heroines we can root for, who reassure us that with strength and pride and a healthy dose of self-possession every obstacle can be overcome. A really great weapon doesn’t hurt either!
But here’s the thing. Of all the dark, tortured heroines I’ve read, I have a flat out favorite. She’s the heroine of a book I fell in love with even before it was published and went to bat for because I believed in it so much. Her name is Cia, an ice-road trucker and portal guard, and her story is told in A. C. Ruttan’s Incarnate. Full disclosure: A.C. is a friend and critique partner, but I know I’d have loved this book even if I didn’t know her from Eve.
Imagine being born an incarnate, having two souls, both of whom speak to you, one of which is normal, the other having once belonged to Boudicca. Yeah, I said Boudicca, warrior queen, all-round bad-ass. Worse, not only is Boudicca little changed from she was in life, but she has flashbacks to the events leading up to her death, and actually to that death itself. She also has little patience for any weakness and a wicked, abiding grudge against the Roman who caused all the ruckus in her life back in AD 60.
Not only does Cia have to contend with the duality of her nature and her constant battle to keep Boudicca from taking over every aspect of her personality, but someone’s killing other incarnates. And everyone thinks it’s Cia’s ex, Arthur. Then suddenly it seems Boudicca’s arch nemesis has risen from the mists of history, and Cia has to race across the frozen north to clear Arthur’s name and, oh, yeah, stop Armageddon too.
Can you say ‘shit-storm’?
Bring it on demon lords and other assorted bad guys. Cia’s ready to kick your ever-loving asses.
This isn’t a romance, but urban fantasy, complete with demons, unexpected resurrections and some of the best fight scenes you’ll read. And you’ll feel for Cia—so much. What she’s already gone through, what she’s now facing is more than any woman should be able to handle. She has fears, uncertainties and a real terror of allowing Boudicca to take the reins. Fighting through all that, while trying to save not just the love of her life and friends but the entire world is some powerful stuff, and I loved every minute of it. There’s the sensation of life on steroids. Every nightmare you’ve ever had of losing your temper, endangering your family, or being forced to pay far too much for past sins is blown up to untenable proportions. Cia kicks ass and takes names but always with a price. We want her to win, but often fear she won’t…and I want to be like her.
What more could I ask for in a heroine?
Enjoy the blurb below!
For an innocent man, she’ll go to her grave. Again.
The Portal Keepers, Book 1
Cia is serving her sentence in the Canadian Arctic, guarding one of the many portals that seal off Earth from Heaven and Hell. She doesn’t mind the cold. What she does mind? Someone’s bumping off other Incarnates, the dual-souled beings who hold the Apocalypse at bay. And she’s next on the list.
Worse, she learns the prime suspect is Arthur, her ex. Arthur is many things, but despite their history, he’s no murderer. Cia has only thirty days to find him and prove it before the Wrath is unleashed to mete out justice.
It’s no relief when he shows up in her truck’s headlights on the side of the ice road. He stirs turmoil between her volatile old soul and the younger one that keeps it in line. Worse, he shows all the signs of turning into a demon.
The closer they get to Yellowknife, the more rogue demons pour out of Hell, dragging with them a past she thought would never haunt her again. Another murder, and the elders prepare to summon the Wrath ahead of schedule. A move that will, literally, let all Hell break loose. Unless Cia makes a soul-tearing choice.
Ice, frigid temperatures, lots of Poutine consuming and a mention of blubber. Many demons were harmed in the writing of this book, but the polar bear really is okay.
Journeys Through Seduction