Seduced by Crimson
Reading this series has been an interesting experience. I’m never quite sure what the next book will bring to Crimson City. Although I liked the basic elements of this, the fifth book in the series, I disliked the heroine. Also, the combination of bleeding and sex just doesn’t do it for me. Yech. For those who haven’t read any of this series, this is not the book to start with, trust me.
The veil between Earth and the demon world of Orcus has torn, and the demons begin to invade Los Angeles, aka, Crimson City. The humans, werewolves and vampires who live in Crimson City cannot close the gate and are unable to fight off the dark demons, the Bak-Faru. Crimson City is now a battleground and Earth’s energy is being siphoned off into Orcus, threatening both worlds.
Xiao Fei Finney is the last Phoenix Tear, a hemophiliac whose blood holds great power and the ability to close the demon gate into Orcus. Her fellow Tears all died as little girls in Cambodia, killed by demons while trying to close the last demon gate. The gate was closed, but Xiao Fei was the only survivor. She escaped Cambodia by adoption into a family living in Los Angeles. Her experiences in Crimson City have given her an alarming prejudice against anything not human. She knows the instant the demon gate opened into Crimson City, but tries to hide from her fate.
Patrick Lewis’s parents were killed when the demons crossed into Crimson City. As druids, they studied how to keep the Earth safe. Patrick’s mother researched demon gates, and told Patrick with her dying breath to find the Phoenix Tear to close the gate. The druids consider themselves the Earth’s keeper and Patrick is the Draig-Uisge, the water dragon, the defender. His mother’s research leads him to Xiao Fei and her powerful blood. Unfortunately, in order to close the gate, he must bond with Xiao Fei, and then bleed her, possibly killing her. Patrick feels a tinge of remorse, but protecting the Earth and seeking vengeance for his parents overcomes that.
The meeting between Patrick and Xiao Fei starts out well enough, but things go downhill when Patrick ties her up in order to seduce her and then use her blood to close the gate. What girl wants that on a first date? Alas, these two don’t have much time to repair their differences, for the demons can sense Xiao Fei’s powerful blood.
This story moves a breakneck speed; we are given Patrick’s history in a series of letters to his journal. Most of the story takes place over a day or perhaps two. Patrick’s element is water, and being from Los Angeles, he is naturally a surfer. He is much more open-minded than Xiao Fei, understanding that vampires and werewolves are still Earth’s children, both good and bad, just like humans. He still has his hatred of demons to overcome, though. Once his initial screw up with Xiao Fei is over, he realizes he doesn’t want to kill her in order to close the gate. Fortunately for Patrick, one of the gifts of a Phoenix Tear is the ability to close their wounds so they don’t bleed to death.
Xiao Fei is a prickly character. Her life has been difficult and her destiny isn’t pretty. Even knowing all that, I still couldn’t connect with her character. Although she is a strong woman, she is terribly bigoted, and dislikes following anyone else’s suggestions. Fortunately, before the book is over, she sees the error of her ways.
At the heart of the plot is a nice theme, that love between all is the answer; but its delivery is a bit unconventional and well, painful. Love scenes in a romance should demonstrate the love between hero and heroine – bleeding just isn’t a turn on for me. This isn’t a bit of blood mind you, our heroine is a bleeder, and she bleeds a lot over the course of the book. I don’t consider myself all that squeamish, but I began to feel queasy toward the end whenever Xiao Fei lifted up her arm to open a vein. Voyeuristic sex isn’t my cuppa tea either.
Because of the short time period, everything in the book felt rushed. The demons are closing in, so let’s cram a visit to the werewolves and vampires in real quick, and while we’re at it, we better visit Xiao Fei’s sister in order to say goodbye. Oh yes, can’t forget the fights with the demons in between, and create attraction between Xiao Fei and Patrick so the ritual can succeed. Throw in old enemies of Patrick’s to top things off. Whew, okay…cue the happy ending.
The Crimson City series has definitely expanded genre expectations, and I applaud all the authors for their unique efforts, including this one (if you’re looking for a terrific book by author Lee, consider Desperate Tigress). But this book just didn’t work for me. Some fans of the series may have more tolerance than I did, but if you are even a little squeamish about blood, consider yourself warned.