4 starsThis last book in the series was really, really good... but it also dragged a bit for me. There are a lot more politics involved in this book, and a lot of what seems to be esoteric side-trips that don't always make sense until virtually the end of the book. I'm not complaining. As a whole, I'd give this series a 3.75-4 star rating.The characters stay true to themselves. The story and the mystery does unfold, albeit very slowly; this is the culmination book, though, so you have to go with it and try to savor the build up to the final climax.Now that we've survived the trip to China and the aftermath of that, including losing a someone dear to the group, we're whisked away to Rome to finally meet Livia. My only real problem with this book is that the set-up we've had with Livia is far different from the real vampire/female. Now, twists and turns are always welcome, but somehow, it felt to me as if the writer changed her mind about Livia and her role in this epic and reflected those changes about 1/3rd of the way through this book. I have nothing to go on other than my gut... and it all works out in the end, but still... I completely understand when characters and situations change in an author's mind; but I'd have appreciated a bit more heads-up on this one.Regardless, Lorenzo makes a few irritating cameo appearances, and I wondered if anything would truly be resolved by the end of this book. And I was going to be supremely upset if I had to start another series (that's not done yet) by the author to get my closure. But no, Ms. Hunter is much smarter and savvier than that, thank goodness!I'm not sure that the ending is as satisfying as I'd expected. Ms. Hunter reminds us that few people or vampires are strictly black or white. But it's almost disturbing... and again, I wonder if I have to delve into her 2nd series for that to make any sense at all. It's rather strange, but very cool when I step back from it all.We also receive introductions to the oldest four vampires still living, which is quite a trip in and of itself.A (small) nit is that Isadora (grandma) and Casper are once again non-existent except for a phone call or two. Ben, though, takes a more dominant role, which seems appropriate, given that he's quickly becoming a man.Seems a shame that vampires can't create children the old-fashioned way... and the author never really explains why that is. I guess being undead and all has something to do with it - LOL!