Thanatos, the Horseman of Death, endured thousands of years of celibacy, thinking that to lose his virginity would break his Seal and begin the catastrophic end of the world. But one ill-begotten night with Aegis Guardian Regan blew his theory out of the water. What he didn't know, though, is that Regan became pregnant and that he's about to become a father, not to mention it was all engineered by the Aegis who believe that the child is going to save humanity from the impending Apocalypse. Thanatos's siblings have kept him paralyzed with hellhound venom ever since, but the minute he's able to get free, he makes a beeline for Regan, kidnapping her with intentions of exacting vengeance. But once he has her safely ensconced in his keep, he starts to find a softness in his heart that he didn't know he was capable of for the mother of his child and their unborn baby. Just when the family he's always longed for is within his grasp, though, he may have to give them up in order to save the world.
Having been conceived while her father was possessed by a demon, Regan Matthews herself possesses supernatural powers that made the Aegis believe she was the only one who could safely seduce Thanatos with the intention of getting him to impregnate her. She wasn't particularly keen on the idea, and then it went sideways, leaving her wracked with guilt ever since. After growing up in a series of foster homes, some of whom became afraid of her powers, Regan doesn't believe she'd make good mother material, so she intends to give the baby to another couple with Aegis alliances for safe-keeping. When Thanatos kidnaps her and takes her to his keep, she understands his anger and discovers that she's willing to do almost anything to earn his forgiveness, but she didn't expect to fall in love with the father of her child and end up longing for this unconventional little family as much as he does. But enemies surround them and betrayal is at every turn, making it uncertain whether they can stay alive long enough to realize their newfound dreams.
Lethal Rider is the third book in Larissa Ione's Lords of Deliverance series, which is a spin-off or sub-series of her Demonica series, that is about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who are half-angel and half-demon. In this one, we have Thanatos aka Death paired with Regan, an Aegis Guardian. Their story actually began in the previous book, Immortal Rider, when the Aegis found a new prophecy which seemed to suggest that the offspring of a Horseman would bring an end to the Apocalypse that Pestilence started in the first book, Eternal Rider. Not knowing that the prophecy had been planted by Pestilence himself, the Aegis started scheming to get their hands on a Horseman's child, and since one didn't yet exist, they needed to "make" one. With Ares already happily mated and Limos headed down that road, that only left Thanatos, so they twisted Regan's arm to get her to go seduce the Horseman. She wasn't thrilled about it but finally agreed for the good of humanity. However, what she didn't know is that Thanatos had maintained his virginity for thousands of years, thinking it was his agimortus, a vessel which if breached would cause his Seal to break. There was a natural attraction between the two, but when the seduction actually occurred things went sideways. Both of them were tricked into drinking wine laced with an aphrodisiac, which placed them in a haze of lust. Regan also lost control of her powers, which she accidentally used to pin Thanatos in an unbreakable hold during sex, resulting in a rape-like scenario. She did, however, succeed in becoming pregnant, and this story picks up eight months later, when the baby's birth is nearly imminent. Because of what had occurred between Thanatos and Regan in the previous book, I wasn't sure if I would like their story, but I'm happy to say that I ended up loving it.
Like his siblings, Thanatos was raised as a human, and it wasn't until adulthood that he became aware of his curse, which as Death, means that he's drawn to sites of death and destruction. He has also dealt death to many, both human and demon, throughout his five thousand years of life. In fact, the things he's done torment him so much that he regularly visits a demon tattoo artist who draws these emotional scenes on his skin, muting the memories and relieving him of some of the guilt. As I mentioned, until the previous book, he was still a virgin. When Regan came to his keep under false pretenses, he was very attracted to her and they messed around a bit, but he had no intention of sleeping with her until the aphrodisiac wine rendered him senseless. Needless to say, he was not OK with how things went down, and feeling betrayed, he's been angry with Regan ever since. However, Ares and Limos have kept him paralyzed with hellhound venom for the past eight months, so he wasn't able to do anything about it. When he finally gets free of the paralytic agent, Thanatos immediately goes searching for Regan and is shocked to find her pregnant with his child. The one thing he's wanted all his life but never thought he could have is a family to call his own, and now that's very much within reach if he can only convince Regan to keep the baby. In the previous book, Than was pretty intensely alpha, and while he still is, he does tone it down some in this book. Despite being the Horseman know as Death, he has a surprisingly gentle side and a capability for forgiveness that made me really fall for him. He wants nothing more than to protect and care for Regan and their child and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe and a part of his life.
Regan is a human, but because her father was possessed by a demon when he impregnated her mother, she bears some supernatural powers. Children of such unions are generally looked down on and often killed, but Regan is a survivor. Shortly after her birth, her mother went on a suicide mission, so Regan spent her childhood being shuffled around to a series of foster homes with Aegis Guardians. But her powers often seemed to frighten them. Then finally as an adult, she became a Guardian herself. Much like Thanatos, all she's ever wanted is a family and she believes she found that in the Aegis. However, given her background, she doesn't think she'd make good mother material. Then everything changed when the Aegis sent her on the messed up mission to seduce Thanatos into getting her pregnant. I have to admit that I was not happy with her after that and wasn't sure if I'd even like her as the heroine, but I came to understand that she didn't intend for things to go the way they did. She turns out to be extremely apologetic and willing to do almost anything to earn Than's forgiveness. Not to mention, she's pretty traumatized by the whole thing, too, and is even reluctant to make love to Than when they finally reach that point in their relationship. Regan had also been a pretty intense alpha female in the previous book, but just like Than, she tones it down here. Pregnancy seems to have softened her, and even though she's still uncertain about motherhood and adamant about giving the baby to Kynan and Gem to raise for his own safety, she does come around. By the end, I felt that she had more than proven her love for Than and her worthiness to be with him.
As part of a long-running series, Lethal Rider has supporting characters aplenty, many of whom either headlined previous books or will get their own books later in the series. Eidolon (Pleasure Unbound) and Shade (Desire Unchained) offer medical assistance to Regan, as does Con (Sin Undone) in one scene, while his mate Sin shows up at the end. Vladlena (Vampire Fight Club) is there for the birth as well, while her mate Nate also appears at the end. Wraith (Passion Unleashed) helps out when Thanatos and Regan go searching for artifacts, and his mate Serena shows up in one scene, too. Lore and Idess (Ecstasy Unveiled) come into play in ways that would give away spoilers if I say anymore about them. Of course, Thanatos's siblings, Ares (Eternal Rider) and Limos (Immortal Rider), along with their mates, Cara and Arik, provide support for Thanatos and Regan and help in the fight against their brother, Reseph aka Pestilence, who has completely overrun the Earth with his evil and must be stopped. However, he is redeemed to become the hero of the next book, Rogue Rider. After the spectacular redemption story in this book, I look forward to reading his book and seeing if Larissa Ione can make me fall for someone who spread so much chaos and misery. Kynan and Decker end up being the only Aegis friends Regan has left. Reaver and Harvester (Reaver) play fairly meaty roles in this book and Harvester's surprising secret identity is revealed. Again I look forward to another hopefully great redemption story for Harvester, who drew a few sympathy points from me in a couple of scenes. We finally learn whether Azagoth (Azagoth) is indeed the father of the Horsemen. And rounding out the cast, we have Hades (Hades) who oversees the arrival of a particular character to the Underworld.
Overall, Lethal Rider was a very impressive story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Ms. Ione possesses masterful plotting skills that never failed to keep me on the edge of my seat with all the action sequences, as well as all the twists and turns that I didn't see coming. But at the same time, she doesn't skimp on the romantic and steamy scenes to set the emotional tone and make a connection between her characters and the reader. The characterizations were top-notch as well, leaving me totally relating to both Thanatos and Regan in spite of my doubts when starting the book. After seeing how expertly she was able to redeem Regan and the entire situation that led to her pregnancy, I don't think I'll doubt her authorial abilities again unless given a reason to somewhere down the line, but I don't expect that to happen. I also really enjoyed the running theme of betrayal and how she adroitly wove it throughout the narrative. I ended up completely loving this story and wouldn't have changed a thing about it. It's left me very eager to continue the series soon.
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