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Personal Demon: Women of the Otherworld    by Kelley Armstrong order for
Personal Demon
by Kelley Armstrong
Order:  USA  Can
Spectra, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Tabloid reporter/half chaos demon Hope Adams is cautiously suspicious when she's approached by Benicio Cortez (head of the most powerful and dangerous supernatural Cabal) to infiltrate a young Miami gang of renegade supernaturals who could pose trouble for their secretive organization if they're not reined in. Though Hope wants nothing to do with Benicio Cortez and his minions, she realizes she's indebted to the man for saving her life as well as that of her former boyfriend, werewolf Karl Marsden. However, as suspicious as Hope is of the manipulative Cortez's true motivations, she itches for fresh action. A knife-edge adventure would feed the demonic side of her nature that increasingly craves the taste of chaos.

After OK-ing her involvement with Paige and Lucas Cortez (Benicio's youngest son and proclaimed heir) Hope jets off to Miami. Her only stipulation is that Karl Marsden not be contacted as Benicio had originally directed - as far as she's concerned she and the thief are history. She doesn't need him hanging around as a backup if things got dicey. Posing as a spoiled rich girl, Hope quickly works her way into the ranks of the Miami gang, and in particular, the romantic sights of Jaz Haig. But when their capers lead to disappearances, mayhem, murders - and in particular death for high-ranking members of the Cortez Cabal - Hope and Lucas realise that something very sinister is going on. With help from an insistent Karl, they soon uncover a dark and far-reaching conspiracy that shakes up their lives, and might impact their future in ways they could not imagine.

After expanding her complicated mythology and character structure over the course of her last couple of Women of the Otherworld books, Armstrong finally shakes things up in a big way in Personal Demon. The Cabals, and in particular the Cortez Cabal, have always played a major role in the series. Now, through Hope's and Lucas' alternating points of view, Armstrong takes the reader deeper into the dark bowels of the organization. She shows the impact Hope's agreement with Benicio will have on her own and Lucas' future - Lucas has always been vehemently opposed to any involvement with his father's dark organization and Cabals in general.

Although Hope Adams is a recent addition to the series, she stands out as one of Armstrong's strongest female leads, as does natty and very dangerous thief/werewolf Karl Marsden (first introduced in Bitten, which launched Armstrong's fascinating supernatural world). Hope's fears that her Expesio chaos demon half might one day get the best of her are well developed. So are lone wolf Karl's misgivings about remaining exclusive to Hope, given their age and species differences, and his disbelief that his entire world could be so drastically changed by love for one woman. Personal Demon ranks as one of Armstrong's strongest stories so far and die-hard fans won't be disappointed to learn that Hope and Karl aren't out of the woods yet. Their next adventure - Living With the Dead - hits bookstores late in 2008.

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