I was unable to get into this when I first bought it, I think in 2009 shortly after it came out and I was desperate for more in the Kate series, and it wasn't out yet. The heroine of the book cleans offices for money and she is undocumented, altho her younger brothers have legit birth certificates. Her particular kind of alien isn't from any country that we are familiar with; while the setting is somewhere in the American south, the setting is also in a version of the American south that is partly magical, and yet another version of the American south that is entirely magical: the Broken (ours), the Edge (where she lives with her brothers) and the Weird (where she will, predictably, get her HEA).
For all the other reviews on line that say how this isn't a typical romance novel (nope, it's paranormal romance, and that's its own thing) or a typical urban fantasy (I believe rustic fantasy gets tossed around), it is, actually, quite typical for Ilona Andrews. Young woman with way too many responsibilities. Hot guy shows up, they come from seemingly wildly different backgrounds but turn out to have a lot of things in common. They find each other's competence super hot. Their foreplay is kinda violent. Then they have to solve a super serious problem together. Which they do, and then they have some sort of misunderstanding that gets resolved for an HEA, in this case, all within one book (not necessarily all within one book for other couples by this author).
The family background is soooo dysfunctional that it is depressing (right down to grammy giving just the worst possible advice it is just _amazing_ that someone that old can be that foolish), as is the relentlessly grinding poverty. OTOH, Rose has a bunch of powers that compensate, and with two guys competing for her attention and "helping" out, it is fairly clear throughout the book that at some point, the whole crowd is just gonna walk away from this hot mess and find their HEA somewhere Better.
Of course, because these are monogamous het romances, the other guy doesn't get his HEA in book one, so he has to find his mate in book two. In this outing, Cerise's parents are alive, but have been kidnapped by a guy so awful he makes the supervillain in book one seem kind of tame by comparison -- I mean, he just had a world destroying device, but was otherwise a total fuckup. The bad guy in book two is amazingly scary.
Cerise has to go get a document being held by her uncle (who turns out to be a closeted shifter I DID MENTION SPOILERS WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE SPIDER IS GOING TO BE HERE ANY MINUTE) and return in time for a court date to try to get the property back that the clan their are feuding with stole at the same time her parents went missing. The goal there is to get access to the house so they can try to figure out where the hell her parents were taken and by whom. She runs into the shifter from book one on her return trip, and they team up and it's a good thing, too, because neither would have made it back without the other, never mind in time for the court date which was moved up.
That should give you a sense of how this book works. In a typical Ilona Andrews outing, there is either not enough/missing family or there is Way Too Much family, and this book manages to simultaneously pull off both at the same time.
The relentless mud and creepy flora and fauna are a bit of a bummer, not to mention the awful choices for shifters (abandonment and child soldier lifestyle in Adrianglia or infanticide in the Dukedom of Louisiana). As if that isn't bad enough, we really get a glimpse of the slaver issue in this book, with the explanation for Lark/Sophie's PTSD.
Two of Cerise's family members, Kaldar and Richard, get books 3 and 4 in the series. I'll get to them, possibly soon (I read these on the kindle while waiting in line at kiddie amusement parks).
I think the very _best_ scene in both books is when Emel shows up and gives away the Mars family next to the Thoas burial ground/pond, and starts the epic battle between Spider and his minions, and the Mars clan and William. Emel is so reminiscent of Roman that I loved him instantly.