This post begins with a disclaimer. Mainly, that though I've read several urban fantasy novels, I'm not a big fan of them. They're not bad, but the mix of romance, mystery and a modern setting don't thrill me for the most part. So, while I read them, I don't expect much from them. The one exception was Patricia Briggs's Mercedes Thompson books. I loved Moon Called and Blood Bound. Therefore, it was with a lot of anticipation that I picked up Iron Kissed. And that made my disappointment in the book that much worse.
Let me also say that as writer several of my complaints are things that most people would never notice let alone criticize. That's just life. There are serious spoilers ahead, so if you haven't read the books, consider yourself warned.
1) Sam never picks up an instrument in the first two books. He never sings. I think there's a short descriptive paragraph before we meet him the first time that states he participates in campfires but beyond that there's no indication that music is important to him. So it came as a huge surprise when Sam's love of folk music became a huge plot point in this book. All of a sudden he's always playing his guitar around the trailer. Odd for a man who never played before when he was upset or needed to calm himself.
2) We're told in book 3 that Adam's claiming of Mercedes as a mate creates a weakness in his leadership that could be exploited by other werewolves. Didn't he claim her when he first moved opposite her? Wasn't that quite a few years ago? Why is this suddenly a problem when for years it wasn't? And why are people suddenly blaming Mercy for it when she had no knowledge of his actions before book 1 (or was it 2? At any rate, recently in the timeline).
3) Adam actively scared me in this book. I started wondering how much it would take for him to actually hit Mercy for opposing him. (Which may be why I objected to the ending so much, it was as if he were happy that her spirit was broken, though that would be going against his character as I understood it from the other books.) I actually wanted her to choose Sam. I thought they'd be able to have a more healthy relationship. Passion is great, but when it's coupled with fear (as a lot of the scenes with Adam in this book seemed to be) it's disfunctional.
4) The biggest problem I had was the ending. The others were merely annoyances that I could live with and ignore were it not for the final sentence in the book. Mercy is raped by the bad guy. As disturbing as the idea is, the scene was tastefully done. The problem I had was that Adam used this as a means of claiming her. He claims that since she asked him for help two times she's basically said she'll be his mate (say what? Gosh, I'll have to watch who I ask favours from in the future in that case). Also, instead of letting Mercy heal, and simply talking through what happened and what their mating will mean for their futures, he sleeps with her. Mercy's reasoning here is also flawed. She decides that sleeping with Adam will clear away the memory of the rape, allowing her to triumph over it. I saw it the other way. It felt like the rapist won here. Rather than healing and becoming a strong, independent woman who overcame her fear, she fell prey to fear, and decided that being with Adam would keep her safe. She can't protect herself so she'll find a protector. This will ultimately backfire on both of them. Adam will realize that Mercy's no longer the strong woman he fell in love with and will miss the woman who argued with him and pushed his buttons. Mercy, on the other hand, will realize Adam is a crutch. She'll come to resent the fact that she is no longer a strong woman because she leaned on him rather than learning how to live without fear on her own. Sleeping together also undercut several things that the author pointed out earlier, mainly that Adam was old fashioned and didn't believe in sex outside of marriage while Mercy didn't want a child out of wedlock (though she is on birth control). All the same, they should have waited until they were sleeping together for healthier reasons than 'I'm scared, protect me from the boogy man'. Even if the boogy man happens to be real.
I understood Mercy offering herself to Adam at the end, but I would have liked Adam more if he'd stopped her and said, 'You're scared and hurt right now. I don't want you like this. Let me help you through this and when you're ready, then we'll move on to the next step.'
On the other hand, I loved the scene where Ben explained why a rape (or molestation) if you can't fight back is horrific. Again, like the rape scene itself, it was handled with care and explained a lot about Ben's character.