Edra Tendric has been sent to L.A. by the head of the San Francisco mytho community. The vampires in L.A. have taken over the city, with the human leaders merely puppets. Edra needs to figure out their ultimate goal, particularly as they seem to have their sights set on expanding their territory into San Francisco. Edra knows he is as likely to die on the mission as he is to live, but he has no choice but to go and do his best.
Meanwhile, Inspector Jordan Kells is just trying to hold things together in San Francisco with Edra gone. After the two mated, the fallout has been huge. The media cannot get enough of a human partnered with a dragon shifter and Jordan finds himself the center of a lot of unwanted attention, from both fellow humans and from mythos. He is also trying to balance his job with the police with the increasing responsibilities of being the mate to the Knight of the city. When a woman is murdered and it appears to be the work of a mytho, Jordan is determined to learn the truth behind her death. But he also finds himself torn between his role as a human cop and the demands of the mytho leaders who want his allegiance with them.
As Edra digs deeper into what is happening in L.A., the devastating truth starts to become clear. Meanwhile, Jordan finds himself deeper in trouble as he navigates the complex politics of the mytho world without Edra there as a guide. Both men are in danger and their lives are on the line. With war close at hand, it will take all Edra and Jordan have to find their way back to each other and to navigate the danger before it is too late.
Vanity and Other Monsters is the fourth book in T.J. Nichols’ excellent Mytho series. This is a connected series following a single couple and with extensive world building, so you are definitely going to want to read these in order. I realized when I was about to start reading this one that somehow I had missed book 3, Envy and Other Cravings. I debated trying to go back and pick that one up first, and in the end I decided to just forge ahead without it. I read the blurb and some reviews for that book and between that and the background Nichols provides here, it was enough that I could follow along with this story. But again, if you are a first time reader, you definitely are going to want to start with book one, Lust and Other Drugs.
As I said, this series has extensive world building and I am totally loving it. The premise here is that the supernatural, or mytho, world “crashed” into the human one, bringing a host of supernatural beings into our world. The event happened about ten years ago and the world is still getting used to this upheaval. Some countries accepted the mythos easily, welcoming them into their society. In other countries, like the U.S., there is a constant struggle for mytho rights and how they will fit into our world. Mythos that “pass” as human have a much easier time than those that look more obviously “other.” Some people want all the mythos pushed together on some land of their own, separate from the humans, ignoring the fact that mythos vary greatly, both within species and across populations. So it is easy to see how the set up here has so many parallels to our real world and Nichols explores it all so well. I like that we really get some insight into what is is like for the mythos, as well, people who were just living their lives and suddenly found everything they knew turned upside down when their world was destroyed. Both men help to navigate things for the reader, Edra as a mytho himself, and Jordan as a human who is trying to work with and integrate into the mytho world. So Nichols really provides stellar world building and I think it is a highlight of the series.
I also really enjoy Edra and Jordan together. Their relationship has been a slow burn, as many things held them back from jumping into their mating. Nichols has always been really good at showcasing the connection between them, even before they were officially together. That carries over to this book, where the men are separated for much of the story, but I could really feel the bond and the chemistry between them nonetheless. They are never far from each other’s thoughts and there is clearly a strong bond between them. That said, I would love to see these guys working as a mated team as the series continues, as I really love them together so much. Speaking of which, it looks like this series will be a full seven books (and I just realize the titles follow the Deadly Sins), so we are just at the halfway point with a lot more to go.
Overall, I am a big fan of this series and was thrilled to jump back into this world. I really can’t wait for more.