Posts Tagged ‘Vampires’

Description From Goodreads:
The Kingdom of Sieunes is rife with taverns, dirty streets, and clay pipe smoking citizens all toiling to feed their families and keep themselves in something little better than rags. With a foiled revolution just ten years prior still burning in the hearts of many, the royals enlist the aid of assassins to keep things in order. The townsfolk entertain themselves by dreaming of better times to come and regaling in stories of the undead said to walk the graveyards at night… and of Cameo the killer with corpse-like eyes…

Scarred and jaded Cameo is one of the most effective assassins in the employ of the Association, moving from one mission to the next as long as the alcohol keeps flowing. Her acceptance of the murder-for-hire lifestyle is thrown into doubt when she meets a local highwayman with a penchant for fine clothes and women, and then she begins to think about breaking with the company but no one ever breaks with the Association under good terms.

CAMEO THE ASSASSIN, by Dawn McCullough-White
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: *** 3 Stars
The characters drew me into CAMEO THE ASSASSIN, and though I hated the ending, the novel was an entertaining read, and a nice break from physical perfection and honorable heroes.

Characters: **** 4 Stars
It was nice for once to have characters who aren’t physically perfect, or even very desirable. The author did a great job making me feel connected to these imperfect people and able to relate to their foibles.

Cameo is a coldly compassionate assassin, with dead gray eyes to match. She has a fairy tale monster reputation for living in graveyards and killing children who don’t go to bed, but she doesn’t kill indiscriminately…well, unless she’s paid to do so.  When she’s assigned to kill Black Opal, a notorious highwayman, she finds she can’t go through with it, and ends up alienating herself from the Association she works for in order to keep him alive. She’s an interesting mix of self-loathing, empathy, loneliness, warrior, and friend.

Black Opal, the apparent love interest, is a bit of an enigma. A dandy with a passion for fine coats and makeup, he is described both as pock-marked and handsome, and he has only one eye. While he is a womanizer, constantly picking up on ladies and whores alike, he has a soft spot for Cameo and becomes incredibly jealous any time she takes any interest, platonic or not, in another man.

Secondary characters include Bel (Opal’s partner in crime), Kyrian (a young acolyte who’s more than what he appears), and Wick (the leader of the Association and a witch capable of convincing everyone but Cameo that she’s a beautiful young temptress rather than an ugly old woman who smokes too much). Overall, a very well-rounded cast.

Plot: ** 2 Stars
The plot wasn’t terrible, but the ending killed it, no pun intended. There was a reasonably strong story arc with a good balance of action sequences and character development. However, it sometimes felt like the author was trying to build suspense by not telling the reader something that the character knows. For example, Cameo is given a task by her Master, but we’re not told what that task is until she’s practically done achieving it. Even given that, I probably wouldn’t have given the plot two stars, except that there was no ending. The book ends seconds after the climax, literally ending with an ellipsis and the word “End”. There are several plot points left open and no emotional release. I know the story continues in a trilogy, but each book should still be a complete novel.

Setting: ** 2 Stars
The story is set primarily on the road out of Lockenwood, in a quasi-eighteenth century world, but the characters just go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…you get the idea. The description is limited, even when they visit taverns or inns along the way. I really wanted more sensory detail throughout the novel.

Romance: ** 2 Stars
Cameo and Black Opal are an odd pair. Arguably, neither is the ideal of beauty, and yet they are attracted to each other from the beginning. That being said, Opal is more concerned about his makeup and being desirable to everyone than he is about wooing Cameo (not that she would be easily wooed, but that’s beside the point). Meanwhile, Cameo is stuck in a loop of self-pity and can’t see that Opal likes her, despite his obvious jealousy when she’s around other men. Though they help each other through some rather horrific and violent events, they don’t actually come together in a romantic way until the last couple of pages.

Genre – Dark Adventure Fantasy: **** 4 Stars
CAMEO THE ASSASSIN is a pretty good representation of a Dark Fantasy novel, despite its flaws. There’s blood and violence, undead creatures, and two different graveyards. While I abhorred the ending of this first book, I imagine that the entire trilogy is probably a pretty decent story, and I may even give the second book, CAMEO AND THE HIGHWAYMAN, a chance.

Note: This review was requested by the author. The only compensation received was a free copy of the book.


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Description From Goodreads:
Hidden within Human society is an entrancing race of beings who look just like us. They are the Akataromai. Originating on Earth, they conceal themselves, blending within the Human population. Though they appear to be Human, mature Akataromai live for centuries and feed upon negative Human emotions. Angelina Quorra is an Akataromai, a Human-looking girl who might never die. But Angelina is unique among her people, absorbing pain as well as emotion and giving anyone who feeds her overwhelming pleasure. This is her story, told by the men who adore her. Her talent is called The Lustre, bringing her great fame, and great trouble.

THE LUSTRE, by Kate Policani
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ** 2 Stars
Kate Policani delivers an interesting twist on the “vampire”, but fails to deliver an interesting story. Told entirely from an external point of view, in passive voice, the characters and plot never resonated with me. I wanted to hear from Angelina, the actual protagonist, not just the secondary characters. The method of delivery detracted from the story itself, to the point that there almost wasn’t a story. It was like being in a conversation where the subject is sitting right next to you, and everyone is talking about her, around her, and over her, but no one is talking to her. Awkward.

Characters: ** 2 Stars
Angelina has the Lustre, an ability to not only take away negative human emotions, but to take away physical pain and replace it with orgasmic pleasure. Interesting to say the least. Yet somehow Angelina is vacant, almost empty of emotion herself. She just sails along, not really taking an active part in her own life. Instead, the men in her life are the active participants, likely due to the fact that they’re the ones telling her story, and they make her out to be a perfect angel, innocent and pure…boring.

Her husband, Luciano, seems nice enough, adopting her as his ward when she’s a preteen, and making sure that she doesn’t feel obligated to marry him when she comes of age (though that was the intention all along). However he’s as naive as a teenager despite being more than a hundred years old.

The villain, Jacque Trace, is greedy and selfish, but hardly evil. His actions are despicable, but he also tries to make Angelina happy, in his selfish way. I didn’t like the man, but neither did I hate him, and he wasn’t scary, malicious, or dangerous enough to engage me emotionally. Overall, he was…meh.

Plot: ** 2 Stars
The plot is unfortunately as vacant as Angelina herself. It was just one event after another, without a story arc that slowly builds to an exciting climax and then resolves to satisfying conclusion. There were a few exciting events, such as a killing and a kidnapping, but they fell flat because they were told in a passive voice.

Setting: ** 2 Stars
Like everything else, I wanted more from the setting. I needed a year or an era, a full five-sense description, just something more.

Romance: * 1 Stars
A twelve year old girl is taken from her parents to be a ward of a much older man, with the expectation that when she’s of age, she will marry him. While the author tried to make the match seem like love, it never felt right to me. There were verbal declarations of love, and Luciano was good to Angelina, but I never felt the fire, and with the initial set-up of their relationship, it always felt too easy, and a little bit wrong.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy or Paranormal Romance: * 1 Stars
I’m actually not really sure how to classify The Lustre. It’s not traditional paranormal romance by any means, but there is romance, and it’s in a contemporary setting. The concept of the Akataromai was interesting and unique, but the story was bland, like saltine crackers. I want more action, more romance, more passion, and more pain in my fantasy.

Note: This review was requested by the author. The only compensation received was a free copy of the book.

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Description From Goodreads:

Valerie Dearborn wants a cotton candy life, but it’s more like a puffer fish: pointy, unusual, and—if not prepared exactly right—deadly.

In London for graduate school, Val knows she’s finally free. Her father and ex-almost-boyfriend are back in California and she’s out of the Vampire hunting biz for good. Or is she?

She draws the attention of Lucas, a 1600 year old Vampire, and King to his kind. He’s also wicked hot. As golden as Lucifer, and just as tempting, he makes Valerie an offer she can’t refuse— help him find out if the Others (Empaths, Fey and Werewolves) still exist or he’ll stop protecting those she loves.

Lucas tells her that Empaths were a Vampire’s biggest weakness before going extinct hundreds of years ago. While the Fey or a Werewolf might kill a Vampire, an Empath could enslave them, seducing or harming with emotions at will. The one detail he leaves out? Valerie is an Empath.

And after 1600 years of an emotionless existence, Lucas wants Valerie like a recovering alcoholic wants a wine cooler.

Can she keep those she loves alive, stop Lucas from munching on her, survive a fanged revolution and still find a way to have that boring, normal life she’s always wanted? Probably not, but boy is she gonna try!

LOVE IS DARKNESS, by Caroline Hanson
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: *** 3 Stars
The Goodreads description pretty well sums up the book. Valerie Dearborn wants a simple human life, but she keeps getting sucked into the dark underworld of the Others…well, the vampires anyway.

Overall, this was a good book, but not a great one. The characters were reasonably believable, the plot was fast enough to keep me entertained, but there were also quite a few problems that were distracting during the read, including grammar and spelling errors, and problematic point of view switches (one paragraph from one character followed immediately by another paragraph from a different character, and back again). At $.99, it’s a fun distraction and a quick romp in urban fantasy, but don’t expect anything extraordinary.

Characters: *** 3 Stars
Nearly every character in this novel was a contradiction of themselves. Valerie wants to have a “normal” life, but she loves men who can’t give her that normalcy. In fact, the only man that could, Ian, is a non-character that was present for a couple of chapters and unnecessary for the plot. I actually would have preferred her just focusing on her grad school studies rather than getting involved with a stand-in. Meanwhile, Jack is the bad boy from her past that simultaneously wants to protect her by keeping her away from the action, but gets jealous when she actually tries to have a life outside of his world. Lucas is the vampire king that has been emotionless for centuries, but on finding out that Valerie is an empath, wants to take her as his own while using her as a tool to find more of the Others (empaths, werewolves, and fae). None of the characters really grew through the story or resolved their issues, although at least Valerie realized she was probably never going to have her white picket dream.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
Beyond the basic spelling and grammar issues (which automatically subtract a star), the story concept was strong but the execution of the plot was forgettable. The intro flashback chapters could have been incorporated into the rest of the story better, providing integrated background and adding some suspense instead of being front-loaded on the novel. Once we finally get into the meat of the story, Valerie does a lot of complaining while being whooshed around by Lucas or ordered around by Jack. Some of the action sequences toward the end were good, and the verbal repartee was fun, but there were huge plot holes that needed to be filled. For example, a whole section of the story is devoted to Valerie doing research on the Others. Lucas whisks her off to the British Library, sneaking her into the stacks using his ability to dematerialize. However, in subsequent chapters, Valerie is going to the library on her own. How does she get to the books she needs without Lucas? Similarly, she finally discovers some information, but never has a chance to report it to Lucas, yet somehow he magically knows about it. It left me with a lot of unanswered questions.

The ending also left me hanging. It was too open-ended and too abrupt, like a cliff-hanger at the end of your favorite TV series before they go on break for the holidays. LOVE IS DARKNESS clearly wasn’t intended to be a stand-alone novel, but I shouldn’t have turned the last virtual page thinking there were still several chapters to go.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I love London, so the setting worked for me, but probably because I’ve been there. The description was somewhat limited, and I never fully felt sucked into the world, but I was still able to enjoy it.

Romance: *** 3 Stars
The love triangle was set up nicely, but failed due to an overabundance of jealousy, lack of willpower, and inability to make a decision. I loved the tension between Valerie and her two interests, but I never felt emotionally involved in either relationship. I wanted to her to have some kind of epiphany, even a small one, that would start her down the path toward one of the men.

Genre – Urban Fantasy: **** 4 Stars
LOVE IS DARKNESS fit right in to the urban fantasy genre. It’s dark enough to please, with a couple of kinky twists and lots of vampire action. That being said, I didn’t feel the story offered anything new to the genre, so I can’t give it a full 5 stars.

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Description From Goodreads:

Gwen Sparks holds a rare power. She can see into the memories of the dead. When she learns that vampires are killing witches for the power in their blood and selling it as the new hot drug, brew, she’ll have to team up with her ex-boyfriend, detective Micah Reynolds to catch the murderer. As if working with her ex wasn’t bad enough, Gwen’s also being pulled into the realm of death by an unsettled ghost and has to deal with a sexy but frustrating vampire who wants nothing more than to claim her as his. Can Gwen protect her heart, and her veins from the very species that craves her?

CRAVED, by Stephanie Nelson
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ** 2 Stars
Gwen Sparks is a witch living in the otherworldly town of Flora, an enclave of witches, vampires, faeries, and werewolves where no humans are allowed to visit except on one weekend a year.  She reads in the paper that a witch was found dead in a ditch, drained of blood, but the local police are encouraging people not to assume that it’s a serial killer.  Gwen, unable to stand by while witches die, decides to offer her unique ability to learn the last thoughts of the dead to aid in the investigation, thrusting herself into a dangerous police case where she must work with her ex-boyfriend (a werewolf), appease her new boyfriend (a vampire), and avoid being next on the killer’s hitlist.

Reading the description, I had high hopes for this book and this author.  Unfortunately, the reality did not meet up with my expectations.

The premise of the story was unbelievable.  Gwen is an untrained civilian with no offensive magical capabilities.  Yes, she’s helped the police in the past using her abilities, but I have to assume it was at their request and on a limited basis.  It is completely unreasonable to expect cops to welcome a civilian as a full partner in an investigation, yet on this case Gwen manages to insert herself into the center of the action, not only reading the victim’s last thoughts, but going out with the cops to interview suspects and research leads.  Beyond the initial setup, the story also suffered from bad formatting, stiff and immature dialogue, repetitive and unnecessary descriptions of character motives or behaviors, and a lack of a magical system that leads me to believe this was a first effort by an otherwise unpublished author.  I would certainly encourage Ms. Nelson to keep trying, but unfortunately, CRAVED could have used more work before hitting the virtual shelves.

Characters: ** 2 Stars
Gwen is naive and somehow uneducated in her magic, despite living in a community surrounded by other witches.  I’ll grant that she’s young at twenty-six, but I would have thought that she would have been better trained at the school she apparently attended at the age of sixteen.  In the beginning, she is consumed by bitterness and grief over the breakup with her ex, avoiding the vampire that has essentially stalked her for two years, Aiden.  Then without warning, she suddenly falls head over heels in love and can’t stop drooling over him.  Meanwhile, Aiden does very little to deserve her sudden change of heart.  He’s nice enough, but mostly serves as a pretty face and generic alpha male.  The secondary characters are equally terrible.  Fiona is a selfish, spoiled brat that acts like a teenager even though she’s supposed to be Gwen’s best friend.  Micah is Gwen’s ex, but with the exception of the obvious tension in their relationship, I never got a good feel for him.  And the villain might have been crafty, but Gwen suspected him immediately, so there was little suspense to the story.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
The plot had promise, but it was overwhelmed by poor execution.  The first several chapters could have been condensed to provide a more concise introduction to the instigating event.  The magic system also needed to be further developed: there were no rules as to what could or could not be done.  In some cases the witches would use magic to change clothes or put makeup on their face, all with just a thought, and then they had to order a dress from the local tailor.  Finally, the ending was both predictable and far too open-ended for my taste, leaving me wanting (but not in a good way).

Setting: ** 2 Stars
I never got a good feel for the setting throughout the book.  For one thing, the town being segregated from humans threw me for a loop.  Supposedly it’s the humans that want separation, but then only a select few, chosen by the town, are able to visit during an annual festival, while the otherworldly residents can apparently come and go as they please.  I was also never clear on the boundaries of the investigation.  How does the Flora police department have rights to go into other towns to do its investigation?  Were the other towns also otherworld towns?  It was confusing to say the least.

Romance: * 1 Star
Gwen and Aiden were completely unbelievable together.  First, Gwen wants nothing to do with Aiden.  He’s an annoyance.  Then with a flip of a switch, she adores him.  They have sex at the most inappropriate times, like when they’re supposed to be on a stakeout and Gwen’s ex (a werewolf with supernatural hearing) is nearby.  The romance was forced and almost entirely about the sex rather than their relationship.

Genre – Urban Fantasy: ** 2 Stars
The author hits on a few of the urban fantasy tropes, but none are particularly well executed.  There are a couple of deaths and some action, but the horror and gore isn’t well described.  Gwen is on an investigation, but most of the facts just fall into her lap, or are dropped there by ghosts.  It’s sort of in an urban setting, but I couldn’t tell if Flora was really a city or just a large town.  Overall, I was underwhelmed.

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Description From Amazon:

It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having “too much power.” So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. –Daphne Durham

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, by Deborah Harkness
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ***** 5 Stars
Dr. Diana Bishop is a young professor studying the history of science, particularly alchemy.  It’s an ironic career choice, since the human alchemists of the past hoped to transform lead into gold and discover the elixir of life, arguably magical goals, and Diana is a witch who knows magic is real, but refuses to accept her heritage.

During a brief leave of absence from her position at Yale, Diana is researching the illuminated alchemical manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian library when she accidentally calls a bewitched manuscript from the stacks.  Still trying to avoid using magic in her scholarly efforts, Diana quickly studies the manuscript, then sends it back to the recesses of the library.  Unfortunately, calling the manuscript also calls the attention of the otherworld races.  As Diana is followed by daemons, threatened by witches, and watched by vampires, there’s only one creature that she feels she can trust, a 1,500 year-old vampire.

Matthew Clairmont, a scientist and fellow at Oxford, is also interested in the manuscript, but rather than making Diana feel uncomfortable or threatened, he protects and comforts her.  Unfortunately, as their friendship blooms, the other witches become increasingly angry, going so far as to call Diana a traitor and attempting to invade her mind to discover her secrets.  What began as a simple research project morphs into a race to save Diana’s life and discover the truth of the manuscript, the history of the otherworldly creatures, and the path of the future.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is a fantastic debut novel by an actual historian of science.  The depth of knowledge is evident throughout the novel, and the craft is beautifully executed.  This was one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years!

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
The characters in A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES are fully developed and well-rounded.  They all have strengths and weaknesses, make occasional bad decisions, and generally act like real people.  Diana Bishop struggles between her heritage and her desire to succeed based on her academic merits.  She’s not a kick-ass heroine, she’s real.  She’s strong, loyal, and dedicated to her family and her career.  Matthew Clairmont is a 1,500 year-old vampire, something that should make him unbelievable in the real world, but somehow he works.  Slowly, over the course of the novel, Matthew’s extensive history is revealed along with the structure of the vampire world.  For once, the hero and heroine are not orphaned or abandoned or ostracised from their families.  Both Diana and Matthew have loving families that do their best to support and protect each other.  They have their struggles and conflicts, but again, they’re real characters with real problems, despite the fact that they’re witches and vampires.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
This is a long book, and it’s paced more like an epic fantasy rather than an urban or contemporary fantasy, which was delightfully unexpected when I first picked up the book.  The plot unfolds gradually, beginning with a single character and setting, and leading into the more complex themes of the novel.  My only complaint is that it’s a little too slow to get started.  It took a few chapters for me to become invested in the characters and the story, but once I was sucked in, there was no turning back.

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
Deborah Harkness must have spent a lot of time in the Bodleian, Oxford, and France.  It’s the only way to explain the depth she’s imbued into the setting of the novel.  The only setting I felt was a little lacking was the Bishop house, but that might have been because it kept magically adding rooms!

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
Diana and Matthew become involved slowly over the course of the novel, but their love seems to run deeper than the average fantasy couple.  They’re not perfect, and they each have to learn to accept the others faults and choose to be together, much like a real marriage.  There’s no sex in this story, at least not in the traditional American sense of the word, but the passion between them smolders all the same.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
I loved A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES through and through.  As noted, the pacing is slower, more epic fantasy than contemporary, but it fit the story and allowed the author to create a depth that isn’t always present in urban or contemporary fantasy.  I would highly recommend this as a starter novel for newbies in the fantasy genre, as well as the long-time readers that enjoy taking their time with a book.

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A young mother has vanished without a trace and Sophie D’Angelo has been hired to solve the cold case that left police stumped. Tensions are high between the local cops and the newly ‘out of the coffin’ vampire community, landing Sophie smack in the middle of the toughest mystery she’s ever faced and in the middle of a possible civil war. Her only allies are her loud, overbearing italian family and her ex-fiancee turned-vampire, Caleb, who shares her house, her business, and generally gets on her nerves. If he wasn’t already dead, she’d probably kill him.

As if that wasn’t enough, Sophie has become the fixation of a twisted killer who is leaving a trail of bodies straight to her door.  Can Sophie uncover the truth behind the strange disappearance and unmask her stalker before she, or someone she loves, becomes his next victim?

BORN OF BLOOD, by Sherry Ficklin
Available October 9th

Today I’m pleased to have Sherry Ficklin, author of Born of Blood, join us for an interview!

1. Tell us a little about your background…how long have you been writing? What’s your favorite part of being an author?

I’ve been writing professionally for almost five years now, but it feels like I’ve been doing it all my life. I suppose to clarify my first book went under contract three years ago. That’s when I went from ‘writer’ to ‘author’. So far there have been a lot of cool perks, not the least of which is getting to rub elbows with other amazing authors that I just love. But the absolute best part has been the response from readers. Hearing people tell me that they love my books, it’s surreal and humbling. It’s amazing.

2. Your previous books have been YA fantasy…why did you switch to urban fantasy?

It wasn’t a strategic decision. When I first began trying to publish my YA books, all people wanted was vampire novels. I always knew (because I am such a fan of Paranormal) that I’d do one eventually, but the time wasn’t right for me then. During the publication of the YA series I started tinkering with adult paranormal/horror. Born of Blood was an absolute blast to write. I think because I enjoyed writing it so much, I was really proud of it. But when I started looking for a publisher, no one wanted to touch another urban fantasy (at least a non romance) with a ten foot pole. Then I met the great people at Tell Tale Publishing. It was like, they really got me, got my book. And they loved it. It was the stars aligning. It has been a challenge to sort of make the jump from YA to adult just because I can’t really take my fan base with me. But if ever a book was worth taking that risk, it’s this one.

3. Where did you get your inspiration for Born of Blood?

It evolved very organically. I was working on a writing prompt, “You are in a burning building. Describe the scene”. Before I knew it I had three chapters. It was the first book that I actually would laugh out loud while I wrote, Sophie was that real for me.

4. How many books are planned for the series?

A hundred? I honestly don’t know. I have outlines for two more, but there are so many places I want to go with these amazing characters. Who knows? If people keep reading them, I’ll keep writing them.

5. You live in Colorado…why did you choose the setting of Charleston, South Carolina?

I travel a lot. Sometimes I fall in love with the places I visit. That was what happened in Charleston. Honestly, I could have stayed there forever. Such a rich culture and a unique mix of people. It was breathtaking. When Sophie first popped into my head, there was no doubt that was where she was from.

6. Sophie seems to be a bit of a contradiction: on the one hand, she broke things off with Caleb when he was turned, even though it wasn’t his fault, yet on the other, she seems to be far more accepting of vampires in general than many other people in the story. Where does this contradiction stem from?

Sophie is a very practical girl in some ways. The vampires simply are in her world. So she deals with it. But Caleb is sort of a special case. On one hand she had this sort of picture perfect life all planned out with him, then in the blink of an eye it was taken away. Marriage, kids, everything she wanted was stolen from her. She tries not to blame him for that, but every time she looks at him it’s a reminder of what she lost. I think there’s a part of her that would be willing to forget everything else and be with him anyway, but it’s the reckless part of her and at the end of the day she knows it would never work out. One day she’d grow old and he’d be gone. So she puts up a wall with him, to protect herself. Sometimes we see it chipping away, but then something happens and she is brought back to cold reality. It’s a bit like whiplash of the heart.

7. Can you give us a bit more background on the vampire culture and how they ‘came out’?

There will be a bit more about this in later books so I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that everything the Conclave does is calculated. There was a reason that a specific time and place was chosen, but the underlying rules of vampire culture have existed for centuries.

8. Why do werewolves and vampires instinctively hate each other?

For me it boiled down to base animal instincts. Here we have two extremely powerful alpha preditors, it would only be natural that they would instinctively avoid and distrust each other. Like if you put a tiger in a cage with a wolf. It would be nearly impossible to know how it would end but it would be bloody. It’s that primal survival instinct that drives the rivalry. But it can be overcome, as Rayne has managed to do in Charleston.

9. Why is Rayne so interested in Sophie?

Sophie presents a unique problem for Rayne. On one hand she is potentially a useful ally, but on the other her humanity makes her uncontrollable. I don’t think he’s ever met a woman, a human woman at least, who keeps him so off balance. He likes it. Plus, for all his bluster, I think Rayne really sees humanity for all its beauty and flaws. He likes Sophie because he’s never quite sure what she will say or do next. I think if he were ever able to really figure her out he’d lose interest. Sophie realizes that too.

10. Will Sophie ever completely forgive Caleb?

I think there’s a fine line between forgiving and forgetting. She is working on it, but until she can find a way to either let go of her old life or find a way back to it, she’ll never really be happy with anyone. It’ll just be a matter of Sophie getting out of her own way.

And now for my review of BORN OF BLOOD, by Sherry Ficklin

Review: *** 3 Stars: A Fun, Fast Read
Sophie is the somewhat unwilling owner of Palmetto Private Investigations, having taken over the business after her father’s death.  It’s not that she doesn’t like her job, in fact she seems to thrive in it, but she was forced to give up college to run the business and keep her family afloat.  Her business partner, Caleb, is a vampire who lives in her attic.  He’s also her ex-fiance, who left her standing alone at the alter after he was changed into a vampire the night before their wedding.  Oh, and he now has a girlfriend, a vampire who occasionally stays over.  Can anyone say “awkward”?

As you can imagine, all of this makes life a bit tough for Sophie, who’s left bitter and confused by her feelings for Caleb.  Somehow, she manages to keep her sense of humor as she’s thrust into the middle of a missing person case that points her directly at Rayne (the leader of the the local vampire council, called the Conclave) and the Church of Redeeming Sacrifice (an anti-vampire religious sect).

I’ve read the first two books in Sherry Ficklin’s Gods of Fate trilogy (the third to be released sometime next year), and I loved them.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think BORN OF BLOOD lived up to their standard, or its own potential.  While it was fun to read, it somehow felt like this was still an early draft of what could be a great novel.  It just wasn’t quite there yet.  That being said, if she comes out with a second in the series, I’d probably still read it, if only to find out whether Sophie chooses Caleb or Rayne.

Characters: *** 3 Stars
Sophie was a strong lead, but some of her actions and attitudes seemed contradictory.  On the one hand, she seemed tough, keeping her head in the middle of any crisis she faces.  On the other, she’s bitter that she can’t have her ‘dream life’ with Caleb, but she not only let’s him live with her, she let’s him bring his girlfriend around and supports his decision to join the Conclave.

Meanwhile, Caleb irritated me.  He’s supposed to be her business partner and helping her with the case, but he spends more time with his girlfriend than anything else, and Sophie lets him get away with it.  I didn’t understand how she could just let him walk all over her, when she’s strong in so many other areas.

Rayne was also introduced as a potential love interest…at least, he’s interested in Sophie.  I liked Rayne.  He seemed a little awkward, not knowing how to romance a human and clearly still living in another era, but also very domineering, not used to being refused.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have a very large role in the novel, and I would have liked to see much more from him.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
The beginning of the story was great, shoving us right into the action…and a burning building.  But while the concept of the story was solid, the ending was lacking.  It felt like the author was rushed, or didn’t know how to end the story.  In fact the last chapter was all summary ‘telling’, when I personally would have preferred more ‘showing’.  For example (without giving anything away), there’s a really nice twist at the end, but Sophie tells us her reaction in the final summary, leaving us, the readers, emotionally hanging.  I wanted to be there with her, not listening to a narrative.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I could tell the author had visited Charleston, SC.  Some of the scenes really breathed, bringing me into the story, but others needed a little more punch to tie it all together.  The setting was solid, but I could have used a bit more description overall.

Romance: *** 3 Stars
The romance in BORN OF BLOOD was limited, at best.  There was a lot of emotion, don’t get me wrong, but with Caleb it was all bitter loss, and I never felt like Rayne was any kind of possibility for a romantic interest, even as he declared his intention to “woo” Sophie.  In my opinion, the sexual interest and intensity could have been beefed up between Rayne and Sophie, or Caleb could have done more to try to win her back.  Either way, the romance would have been improved and it would have added another dimension to engage the reader.

Genre – Urban Fantasy: **** 4 Stars
This was a good novel for a debut urban fantasy.  The heroine gets a little beat up, but ultimately wins the day, and there’s plenty of blood throughout.  It’s dark, gritty, and a fun, fast read.

**Note: this review was made at the request of the author.  The only compensation received was a free copy of the novel.

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