Rating: 3.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

The penguin of doom that is Rexley Nova is back in the second book of the Liquid Onyx series. Picking up only a few months after the first, Rex is coming to terms with his feelings for Damon. Ever since that horrible, wonderful, tempestuous kiss in the training room, Rex doesn’t know what to do with his crush. So, he follows Damon around like a puppy — or rather, Wrath does, trailing behind Polaris as the two superheroes in their superhero identities patrol the city.

Much like the first book, Novas Got Nerve, this book is 90% Rex’s thoughts, opinions, snarky asides, and struggles about just how unique he is as the sparkliest sequin, the loveliest cherub, the hero with the golden heart who draws women and children alike into his orbit. The other five percent is a nod to the plot, with evil mages killing a woman’s family and some glimpses into scenes with a woman torn between her desire to save the world and fix the mistake she made by allowing the Liquid Onyx experiments. Which mostly seems to involve killing all of the children who were given the super drug.

I’m going to be honest, this book is going to be very hit or miss. And for me, this time, it was much more of a miss. Rex has a complex character; he’s under a lot of pressure from having been raised from childhood to be a super hero— raised to see knives as extensions of his will, to see human life in a ratio of most harm to least — and from the pressure he puts on himself as the son of the super villain who created Liquid Onyx. People want to kill Rex for what he is, not who he is; they want to kill him because of his father. And now, he’s a superhero, with all of the guilt and moral conflict that brings with it. Killing someone in the heat of battle in order to save innocents. That’s a good thing, right? Or is it? Should he have let the bad guys live, knowing they could hurt more people, just because killing is wrong? Or should he have saved people by taking the burden of those deaths on himself? In the heat of the moment, he made a choice, and now it defines him.

However, over all of this, Rex wears a shell of brightly colored clown makeup as he prances and cavorts, snarks and sasses, and plays the team mascot, team brat, brat, and so many other annoying roles in order to never let people see how bad things are for him. He wants his friends to be happy, so he japes and cavorts. He wants his uncle to be happy, so he’s pushing all the buttons he grew up pushing, playing at being the baby boy Roux takes care of, even while he wants Roux to find his own love. It’s a constant one-note clown car song that grates on the ears, for me.

I see the gimmick. I get the shtick. And it is well done. It’s just tiring and not to my taste. Rex’s relationship with Damon is fraught with power disparity; Damon is Rex’s hero, the man he looks up to. That’s a lot of power to give someone as Rex jumps into his bed, even as James — a childhood friend and confidant — returns home from a long mission. James, who wants Rex, and who Rex might want back … if it weren’t for Damon. Being with Damon is chasing a storm — thunder and lightning, danger and risk. It’s sleeping with Polaris. It’s power and a rush and a childhood dream. Being with Jamie is sitting inside and watching the rain — warm, safe, relaxing, and comforting. Jamie loves him without reservation, putting no pressure on Rex.

I don’t see this as being a love triangle, personally. James was out of this book save for one scene, more a missed opportunity, someone pining after Rex in the background … like everyone in the book seems to pine for Rex. Everyone Rex comes into contact with loves him, adores him, finds him hilarious and charming. Everyone rolls their eyes at him — often using the same phrases — and the lack of individual voice makes this book feel, in my opinion, a little stale. It feels like the first book over again, only this time with sex.

The book isn’t bad. It’s well written and the author does decent banter. If you enjoyed the first, you’ll probably enjoy this one, but this book just didn’t catch me.