A war is brewing between human and vampire. Problem is, neither side declared it.
Luca Ambrose is one of the rarest of the rare: Born vampire rather than a turned one. His powers are stronger, his senses more acute. For the past several years he has worked as an enforcer for the Council, the governing body of vampire kind. The job has kept his fighting skills honed and provided some meaning to his centuries, but he has little respect for the people for whom he works. Only one Council member is a vampire he is proud to call friend, and when that friend calls, he comes. Unfortunately, when he arrives he finds a brutal crime scene. Determined to bring the killer to justice, Luca begins to hunt him with single minded tenacity. But the trail of the killer actually leads him to the surprise of a lifetime.
Chloe Fallon thinks she may be growing crazy. Weird dreams, hearing voices – what the heck else could it be? In Chloe’s case it is an ancestor who has since become a spirit warrior looking for entrance into the physical world. The Warriors have served mankind in the past and are anxious to do so again, sensing that the coming battle will determine the fate of humanity. But Chloe, unbeknownst to her, has been marked for death by a powerful rebel vampire. He and the people who control him plan to subjugate humanity once and for all and only Chloe and other conduits stand in their way. When Luca’s tracking of the killer leads him to her side he finds himself bound to her like he has never been to another. Can their new found love save them – and the rest of humanity?
Be prepared to spend some time getting to know this world. The book is rather long (440 pages compared to the average Sookie book’s length of 320 or so) and is densely packed with information. From page 25 to 41 there was absolutely no dialogue – just info dump after info dump. Even though the pace picks up a bit after that, it isn’t until page 106, when Chloe and Luca finally meet, that the action takes off. I really struggled with this. I realize that world building has to be the hardest part of writing a paranormal, but the solution chosen here of more or less writing a guide didn’t work for me.
Repetition of information easily caught the first time didn’t help either. Telling us about the short life span of humans compared to vampires on page 34, saying it again on 35 and then again on page 36 isn’t necessary. I get we are a blink of an eye to them, move on already. A lot of the information was also gratuitous. Characters who appeared only once would often have several paragraphs telling the reader how long they had been a doorman or why they could or couldn’t stand sunlight. Not really needed and pretty darn wearing after awhile. One whole paragraph was spent giving reasons why Luca walked to an area as opposed to parking right in front of it. Really? I needed to know every reason for his every move?
But in spite of all that, I liked this book. A lot of that had to do with the gritty, urban feel to it. This is definitely more Black Dagger Brotherhood than it is a Sookie or a MaryJanice Davidson style book. While no one listens to rap music or travels around like thugs in an SUV, there is that sense of war and tension that marks the BDB that permeates this one as well. I didn’t get the feel of sophistication and civilization that mark Sookie and Betsy’s vampires here. These are very much fighting, killing machines. Even their politics don’t have a lot of layers. Don’t like your local representative? Make him go away. Permanently.
On to the hero and heroine. Luca is nothing new or surprising, but he is solidly written. He has that definitive Alpha vibe that Howard is so well known for, and, of course, displays lots of heroism towards his lady love. Chloe is a worthy heroine, strong, independent but caring too. While their falling in love seemed a bit rushed, we knew they were going to end up together and it worked in the context of this novel.
The supporting cast is pretty amazing. Nevada, a young witch, was a well nuanced character in a difficult situation. Unlike the rest of the book, her story flies from the moment we are introduced to her. Her guard Sorin is another character that was just as fascinating. In their case having long, drawn out back stories worked. It gave me more incentive to root for them as they faced some pretty insurmountable problems. I found myself drawn into the stories of certain other conduits too, rooting for their success and wondering what would be happening with them in the future. One young man will not likely be eligible for an HEA but I hope we at least get a chance to meet his Warrior and maybe have him get a dad or really good guardian vampire or something. He and his mom deserve that kind of break.
The villain was predictable, but the rebel vampire cause made a certain amount of sense. It can’t be easy having sentient food and the whole creepy aspect of just how vampires survive was discussed a bit more in this book than in others of the genre. I’m not sure how I felt about that but I did find it interesting.
Had it not been for the first hundred pages, this book would have gotten a higher grade, but they are there and are a pain to get through. If you are into the whole vampire warrior thing, though, I think it assuredly worth it. I’ll be reading book two when it comes out next spring – and let’s just say I was a tad surprised by who the couple is going to be. Can’t wait to see how the authors work it all out.