Review: Face Off by Mark del Franco

Face Off (Laura Blackstone, #2)Face Off by Mark Del Fran­co
My rat­ing: 4 of 5 stars

I went back and forth on the rat­ing for this book, but final­ly set­tled on a four. I hon­est­ly found all the con­flict to be exhaust­ing and unpleas­ant, but it was very real­is­ti­cal­ly writ­ten and I cer­tain­ly felt con­nect­ed to Black­stone. I decid­ed that if del Fran­co weren’t such a good writer, I would­n’t be feel­ing every­thing so much.

I read Face Off right after fin­ish­ing Skin Deep, which is how I rec­om­mend that you read them. That is, after all, how the plot works. There’s a lot more of Jono Sin­clair in this vol­ume than the first, which will be pop­u­lar with romance fans.

Dur­ing the events of Skin Deep, Lau­ra retired the Jan­ice Craw­ford per­sona. Her life should be sim­pler now that she’s just her­self and Mariel Tate, right?

Wrong, because she and Mariel Tate are being pulled in oppos­ing direc­tions by pow­er­ful forces, and she has two more-than-full-time-jobs. Toss in an order to imper­son­ate an unco­op­er­a­tive pris­on­er in order to infil­trate a ter­ror­ist group, and her life is at risk every day too.
In the midst of all this, there’s a vis­it from roy­al­ty, and her boss assigns Mariel yet anoth­er top pri­or­i­ty.

The only respite is her grow­ing rela­tion­ship with Jono Sin­clair, who is also under­cov­er with the ter­ror­ist group. He’s the only per­son in the world who always knows who she is, no mat­ter what glam­our she’s wear­ing.

Lau­ra start­ed won­der­ing how much of her­self was left behind all the per­sonas in Skin Deep, real­iz­ing that “Lau­ra Black­stone” was in dan­ger of becom­ing just anoth­er per­sona. She’s even more con­cerned about that issue in Face Off, but thanks to Jono she’s get­ting back in touch with who she is behind the masks. Will she be able to hold on to her progress? Will she be able to sim­ply sur­vive the under­cov­er assign­ment with almost no prepa­ra­tion? Or will it be the inter­nal Guild­house pol­i­tics that do her in? These ques­tions kept me read­ing and inter­est­ed. I was thrilled with how del Fran­co answered them, and I’m intense­ly curi­ous as to whether those answers leave any room for fur­ther adven­tures with Lau­ra and Jono.

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Review: Skin Deep by Mark del Franco

Skin Deep (Laura Blackstone, #1)Skin Deep by Mark Del Fran­co
My rat­ing: 3 of 5 stars

This is an intrigu­ing begin­ning to a series. I’ve played a char­ac­ter with sim­i­lar abil­i­ties in a long-run­ning role­play­ing game, so I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in this book. I think the author did an excel­lent job of explor­ing just how much could be done with “essence” (glam­our), while set­ting believ­able lim­its to the char­ac­ter’s abil­i­ties. She has an excep­tion­al­ly well-trained mem­o­ry, but even she slips on a few details here and there when jug­gling too many per­sonas or with some­one very close to her for a long time.

The plot was less inter­est­ing to me, frankly, than the char­ac­ter. In fact, the details are a lit­tle fuzzy and I just fin­ished the book ear­li­er today. (Of course, I’ve read most of the next book since then, too). Even while read­ing it, though, some details strained believ­abil­i­ty. That detail took the rat­ing down a point.

Still, I was inter­est­ed enough to go right on to the next book in the series, and I intend to read more of del Fran­co’s work. I would rec­om­mend this book for those who enjoy urban fan­ta­sy.

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