Afterimage (In the Company of Shadows, #2) - Santino Hassell,  Ais **SPOILERISH**

Hsin and Boyd’s Evenfall HEA is short lived with this sequel. However, this only improves the characters, the story and even the writing! Don’t assume too much - Boyd’s rambling soliloquies are still present, but maybe not as abundant or pointless. Still had to skim at some parts - only to go back and reread them to wring as much enjoyment out of this series as possible - because, GEEZ, this thing is epically long. But I have to admit, as in need of an editor as this series is, I enjoy the two week, total engagement journeys that Sonny and Ais take me on with the books in this series.

The best part of this installment - also the part that drove me most crazy! - being trapped in the head of 20 year old Boyd. Yikes! At 33 years old, it is a toughie to be trapped in the mind of a 20 year old, making selfish, shallow, oblivious 20 year old mistakes. In Afterimage, we are transported back to the 20 something time of life when the world is yours to experience and every experience is new. Tackling your life like you know everything - only to find out that you know nothing and that you have screwed it all up. And those late teens, early twenties - whew, that was the time to f*ck around - enjoy the hell out of sex, make poor decisions on who you sleep with and then make even poorer decisions trying to fix the one relationship that touched your soul and you let slip away. The 20 something realization that all of the mistakes that you have made and were so sure you learned a lesson from, can be outdone by a new series of stunning mistakes you had no idea you were capable of making. It speaks volumes to the authors that, with Boyd, Sonny and Ais take me back to that frustratingly wonderful time of early twenties relationship discovery, disaster and recovery.

And despite being almost 30, so does Hsin. In this sequel, we begin to see Hsin shed his arrested social development and start to feel his way through the uncharted mess of relationships - romantically, sexually, professionally and even with tentative friendships. Bringing to light the fact that getting dumped can be a painfully, helpful event in ones life. Catalyzing the opportunity for self reflection, self assessment and even some changing for the better.

Kassian, mmm, yum. Glad he has been brought into the spot light of characters, as I was hoping while reading Evenfall. Perfect and flawed, Kassian is sexy, conflicted, cocky and vulnerable - just the way I like my heroes. He adds fun, intrigue, distraction and a level of tension to the mix.

What I wanted more from Afterimage? Ann. *ducks and covers from all the Ann haters.* I liked the interplay between Hsin and Ann and thought it was very smart of Sonny and Ais to take this direction with the series. In Evenfall, Hsin questions his sexuality, after never having particularly associated himself with one. Ann not only confirms he is bisexual, she provides him with a sexual relationship outside of Boyd. I also simply found her interesting. And I might be a bit of an enemies to lovers sucker, finding her involvement with Hsin, both thoughtful, provoking and adding even more character depth to a cast of well drawn characters. More of Hsin’s thoughts on his relationship with Ann and more detail in their sexual encounters would have been appreciated by this reader. I feel parts of Ann and Hsin’s relationship was glazed over by the authors, perhaps due to fans who found this development unwelcome? Not sure, but this fan dug it.

My love affair continues with this outrageously engaging series. Afterimage is well done for a sequel, providing frustratingly logical developments for our youthful heroes and a satisfying surprise in the ending.

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