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Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Kerri Maniscalco first came to light with her brilliant Stalking Jack the Ripper series. With Kingdom of the Wicked, she continues to provide fabulously strong and independent heroines alongside a sexy sidekick but this time with a kick of fantasy instead of science. And let me say that the addition of magic and the sultry demons are a VERY welcome addition.

Emilia is the most fantastic of heroines. Learning to stand on her own cognizance after years following in her twin’s shadow, we see not only her strength and her strong morality but also her vulnerability. Anger and grief may fuel her mission in the beginning, but as she becomes more comfortable with breaking her self-imposed mold, you see her grow into someone whose intelligence and strength of character will take her far. It is an intriguing character development, especially as it makes her more attractive to the demons she was taught to avoid.

Let’s speak of those demons for a minute. Ms. Maniscalco knows how to write sexy characters, but I think she has outdone herself with the seven princes. Seven princes of hell with each one representing/manifesting one of the seven deadly sins means seven times to create characters who you should fear but who you really want to meet. Thankfully, I feel as if we only scratch the surface when it comes to the princes and their machinations, so the next books in the series mean plenty of time to spend with these gorgeous but deadly minions of hell.

Kingdom of the Wicked is the first book in a series, so there are the requisite world-building and character introduction. Yet, Ms. Maniscalco avoids the tedium that such things can bring, melding both into her story so that we are learning while the story unfolds. All this means is that Kingdom of the Wicked is a story that grabs your attention with its luscious descriptions of food and holds it with its even more delicious descriptions of deadly princes of hell while watching Emilia learn her way among this treacherous new world. The cliffhanger ending is sufficiently annoying and enigmatic as to leave you wanting more. I am really excited to see where Ms. Maniscalco takes the series next!

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