Night of the Tiger by N. J. Walters

TIGER

Night of the Tiger by N. J. Walters
Hades’ Carnival Book 1
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (288 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Foxglove

To win the battle for his soul, he may have to sacrifice the woman who set him free.

Hades’ Carnival, Book 1

Aimee Horner lives and breathes her career as a graphic novel illustrator, but she never expected it would invade her dreams. In recent months, worsening nightmares have pulled her into the darkest corners of Hell.

On a rare night out with friends at a traveling carnival, she finds herself strangely drawn to an abandoned carousel adorned with vividly exotic animals. One steed, a massive white tiger, is a temptation she can’t resist. The moment she climbs upon him, her world changes forever.

More than five thousand years ago, Roric and his fellow shapeshifting warriors were imprisoned in their animal forms, a last-ditch effort by the goddess they served to save them from the horrors of Hell.

With one special woman’s touch, he has a chance at freedom and redemption—but the clock is ticking. If he is still alive in twenty-four hours, the spell will be broken, and Hell will have no claim on his soul. The only hitch is his blazing attraction to Aimee. If only he could trust that she isn’t merely a distraction sent by Hades—luscious bait to lure him from his mission.

Imagination has always fueled Aimee Horner’s illustrations for graphic novels. But lately, nightmares worse than any she has created, have begun to invade her dreams: dreams of demons and evil and of a Goddess searching. And always, since she was small, visions of the white tiger through them all.

Aimee doesn’t get out much, but her friends convince her to visit the traveling carnival, and there she becomes captivated by the carousel with its exotic animal statues. When Aimee sees the white tiger, she has to get closer, and when she climbs on his back, her life will never be the same. What Aimee doesn’t realize is that this is Hades Carnival, and the animals on the carousel are beings imprisoned by their Goddess to save them from being killed. When the white tiger comes to life, Aimee knows something has entered her life, something she can’t ignore. Roric is the white tiger, and he has twenty four hours to fight the power of Hell and be truly free. Roric is drawn to Aimee, but is torn between his feelings for her, and his duty to rouse his brothers in arms and rescue their Goddess. Can Aimee and Roric get past the twenty-four hour deadline unscathed? When Hades tries every trick to stop Roroc and enslae him, will he stand firm or be destroyed? Will Roric stay with Aimee, or begin an eternal quest to save his Goddess and his fellow warriors?

Night of the Tiger is the first of NJ Walters’ limited series, Hades’ Carnival. This is a darker world than most that Ms. Walters has built. The characters are deeper, edgier and more conflicted than her usual folks, but they are as expertly crafted as any she has done. This is definitely not a world I would like living in, but a visit from time to time would be a treat, sort of like visiting the spook house at the county fair: scares you silly, but still, you keep going back.

Aimee Horner is a talented artist, and has built a life for herself with her work. Aimee is strong and a bit shy, not enjoying being around lots of folks. As her dreams become nightmares, her art becomes a bit darker, and her nightmares soon become real. When Aimee wakes up in bed with Roric, she is surprised, but not afraid, as though she realizes he is, somehow, her white tiger from her dreams, always there to soothe her when she was afraid. I liked Aimee’s courage, and her pragmatic view of Roric: she realizes she has no hold on him, but sees no reason she can’t enjoy their time together and build some lovely memories for once he has left her. She is afraid, too, and tells Roric she will do whatever it takes to help him survive the twenty four hours until he can be truly free. I enjoyed Aimee’s spirit and her ability to adapt to the situations as they came, without letting the fear overcome her. Yes, she is afraid, but she is determined to get past it.

Roric has been imprisoned in his animal form for centuries, on the carousel with his fellow warriors. He is shocked when Aimee’s touch frees him, and his devotion to his Goddess is complete and unwavering. I loved Roric’s loyalty and his determination to rescue his Goddess, and enjoyed watching as he came to care for Aimee in spite of his intentions. He is strong and handsome, but it is his integrity and faith that make him such an intriguing character.

The chemistry Ms. Walters has created between these two is subtle at first, but as their time together progresses, the strength of Roric’s passion becomes stronger. I enjoyed seeing how these two battled Hades’ minions, fighting for each and every minute they could get. There were not many secondary characters here, but the appearance of one of Roric’s fellow warriors who has turned to Hades’ side is an intriguing twist to this one, as is the news that two others were roused, but were defeated. This still leaves three more ‘beast’ to be freed, and I look forward to the next dark chapter of Hades’ Carnival, thanks to the creative and delightful NJ Walters.

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