Review – Renegade by Nancy Northcott

Cover for Renegade by Nancy Northcott

Publisher: Forever Yours/Grand Central Publishing
Publish date: ebook Out Now/Paperback Dec 18, 2012
How I got this Book: eARC from NetGalley

She Follows the Rules

As the Collegium council’s top sheriff of the southeastern United States, Valeria Banning doesn’t just take her job seriously, she takes it personally. So when a notorious traitor wanted by the authorities suddenly risks his life to save hers, she has to wonder why.

He Breaks Every One of Them

As a mage, Griffin is sworn to protect innocents from dark magic, which is how he finds himself fighting side by side with the beautiful Valeria Banning. But when the council finds out the two have been working together, they’re both left running for their lives-from the law, the threat of a ghoul takeover, and a possible Collegium mole.

*Blurb taken from the author’s website here

Renegade is Nancy Northcott’s first published novel and is the first in her The Protectors series. She has created an interesting world of mages, ghouls, mundanes (non-mage humans) and demons. This story blurs the boundaries between PNR and UF with its strong romance elements and fast-paced, action-oriented plot. Regardless of how it’s categorized, I just really enjoyed it!

Northcott’s writing style is clean and engaging. She nailed the first sentence and dropped us into the story right in the thick of things. We learned about the world and the people in it as we moved through the story in a way that felt natural – you will not find bloated infodump here! Northcott struck a nice balance between internal dialogue to provide character and world-building insight while sticking with the action of the story to keep things moving forward. What a fantastic debut author and series!!

I enjoyed the main characters in this story. Valeria was smart, capable, skilled, knew what she wanted and worked hard to get it. I liked that she didn’t just allow her attraction to Griffin overrule her instincts. She was willing to keep an open mind about Griffin but she wasn’t stupid about it. She maintained a healthy sense of skepticism one would expect in someone who had attained the high ranking role of shire reeve (sheriff of the southeastern US). She didn’t compromise her sense of duty even as she was willing to accept the consequences of her choices. She put it all on the line for love. Yet in the end, she knew what she could and could not accept in a relationship and she held true to that.

Griffin was an attractive mix of alpha male: strength tempered by having been wounded, he was exiled from his own kind yet found a community to serve, he maintained his sense of purpose and honor, and was just smexy as hell. He carried the weight of the world on his shoulders and felt duty-bound to protect those he cared for – which was both a strength and a weakness. He had a difficult time letting other people do for him, even though he didn’t think twice when it came to sacrificing himself to keep someone safe. He admired Valeria’s skill and achievements, but he struggled with his protective nature when doing her job meant putting her in harm’s way – even though she was more than capable of handling herself. But keeping such a tight grip could cost him everything he’s fought for.

I enjoyed the nature of magic in this world. Mages were humans with a recessive gene that enabled them to channel and utilize magic. The concept of having to be grounded to the natural elements and the need to recharge after excessive use of magic made the access to magic feel real. Mages couldn’t just keep pulling from magic in a seemingly endless stream, they had limits and those limits had to be respected – especially in Griffin’s case.

There were a lot of secondary and tertiary characters in this story to keep track of: Griffin’s team members, Val’s co-workers, Collegium council/staff/deputy reeves, townspeople, shelter residents, volunteers, ex fiancés – it challenged my name-recall skills. Admittedly, I gave up before too long and figured I’d either get to know who these people were as the story progressed or they would fade into the background. For the most part, I kept track of who was who, but a few times I had to perform a quick search (three cheers for ebooks!) to remind myself. However, I do think that having such a deep character pool contributed a sense of realism to the world. It looks like Northcott’s second book in this series, Guardian, is going to feature Dr. Stefan Harper – which is great because I really liked his character in Renegade. I can’t wait!

I felt there were a couple of minor logic inconsistencies within the world-building that left me a bit puzzled. But as they didn’t really pertain to the larger picture, it didn’t seem to be a big deal. At times, the narrative teetered just on the cusp of over-angsting regarding Valeria and Griffin’s romantic feelings for each other, but I just liked these two characters so darn much I was willing to overlook it. Besides, Northcott didn’t let the angst hang around too long before shifting us right back into action. Although that didn’t stop me from a few eye-roll moments, thinking “enough already, we get it, you’re hot for each other but he’s got baggage.” But neither of these issues took away from the overall enjoyment I experienced while reading this book. I’m willing to forgive a bit of angst when the writing is so well done and the story is so entertaining.

This is just a delightful story, full of engaging characters, interesting world-building and a fast-moving plot with lots of good action and smexiness thrown into the mix. I look forward to more from Northcott and from this series.

I give Renegade an A.

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