Pied Piper by Emma Jaye is part of the Grim and Sinister Delights compilation and is a nail-biting ride from beginning to end. Domino is not only a rare creature—a male siren–but also the one that is prophesied as being able to father the greatest and most powerful siren to ever live. As suc, he is protected (read imprisoned) all his life until he is physically mature enough to procreate. When the female siren community he lives with, most of whom are relatives, are finished with him, they must cut out his heart in order to quicken the pregnancies. Sounds gruesome? Well, then reading this next fact will really make you cringe, for after they kill Domino, they will harvest his body for everything they can get in order to sell the pieces that hold great magic. And time is running out for them to do that because poor Domino is slowly dying.
He manages to escape and is hiding out. He must be near ocean water, as this is what rejuvenates his energy keeping him alive. But Domino is torn as to whether or not he wants to continue living out the final days he has. He fears being captured and killed and parts of him harvested and sold. Unfortunately, there are high bounties on his head and it is a matter of time before someone catches him and ends his freedom and his life.
One such bounty hunter, Jude, a leopard shifter, decides to take the case when he discovers a man who he thinks might be telling the truth about being Domino’s grandfather and swears he only wants to help the siren survive. Once he has Domino, Jude is determined to keep him alive, not just for the bounty, but because for the first time in forever he has feelings for someone—and that would be Domino. But all doesn’t work quite to plan and Jude ends up playing right into the hands of a psychopath who wants to exploit Domino and prolong his life for malevolent uses. Now, someone has to make a deal with the devil, so to speak, in order to get both Jude and Domino out of danger and sure death.
Other than the first chapter and the epilogue, this novel is pretty spectacular. With non-stop action, a little romance, and the most interesting range of paranormal species ever invented, the race to save Domino is well-written, spellbinding, and even amusing at turns. Among the rather graphic violence (which includes a rape scene) that happens in order to rescue Domino on more than one occasion, the author weaves a slow burning love story. It’s this rare feeling for another that has Jude finally seeing that the money he makes doing his job, which will allow him to get the revenge for the death of his mother and sister, is not worth Domino’s life. Throughout this story, there are key moments of growth for both men and, in Domino’s case, a maturation process that allows him to see life is worth living.
Unfortunately, the first chapter and epilogue in this novel have multiple characters from one of Jaye’s previous series and without having read it, I got both overwhelmed and a little lost. But that all changes when the story takes off and focuses on Jude and Domino, and from then on it is a wonderful novel and one I recommend.