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Review: A Vampire’s Claim (The Vampire Queen series #3), by Joey W. Hill

TLDR recap:

A drifter haunted by a brutal past, Devlin is a bushman who lives a lonely life on the edge in the Australian Outback.  At the tender young age of 200 years old, Lady Daniela, a rare “born” vampire who is heiress to her own province in Oz, is sought after by scheming male vampires trying to increase their own standing who are willing to kill or viciously torture her to achieve their goals.  Danny has never had a fully-marked human servant and Dev willingly submits to no one, but their unlikely emergency partnership could take them on an emotional journey neither is prepared for.

    • Title: A Vampire’s Claim
    • Series: The Vampire Queen series – book #3
    • Author: Joey W. Hill
    • Prominent Characters: Lady Daniela, Devlin
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica, includes group scenes and alternate sexual partnerings)

*** This review is spoiler-free!  Read on with confidence.  =) ***

Thoughts:

This book is number three in the series, but it could actually be read before the first two novels (The Vampire Queen’s Servant and The Mark of the Vampire Queen).  It’s set in the 1950s, a good 5 decades before Lyssa and Jacob’s books, and tells the story of Dev and Lady D, both of whom we met in the second book, The Mark of the Vampire Queen.

Dev’s backstory is violent and haunting, and his journey through the emotional minefield of becoming a fully-marked and willing human servant to Danny is uneasy at best.  This book delves into the psychology of war and loss, and doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the uncomfortably adventurous potential of the sex scenes.  At his lady’s insistence, Dev uses their tenuous connection as his emotional outlet, while she fights her own battle against dealing with her feelings for Dev and his proper place in her life.

I thoroughly enjoyed the second book (and the second half of the first), but I had a tough time getting into this one due to its intense gravity.  This is no flighty love story!  It is raw and intense, gratifying and punishing, violent and seductive.  While Dev is pushed past some of his natural straight-male sexual boundaries, I feel that some readers will be right there with him, part enthralled and part horrified at the dark places Danny takes him.

I really enjoyed getting to see Thomas and his interaction with Lyssa, as well as Alistair and Nina, the parents of born vampire Brian from the first two books.  Personally, I’m not into survival stories or rugged treks across dangerous wild territories, so the setting in this novel was a little off-putting for me.  While I loved Dev’s personality and the way he competently handles so many diverse situations, I just did not like reading about the Australian Outback and the woes of never-ending mosquitoes and other nasty creepy crawlies.  The sex scenes are hot, so no complaint there (although it’s going to be pretty hard to surpass the awesomeness that is the Council gathering in The Mark of the Vampire Queen!), but they are explicit and vulgarly worded, so readers who are new to erotica will have a shock or two in store until they get used to the cadence of the writing.

Memorable quotes:

So complex, the relationship between vampire and servant…

“We’re not pets.  We’re human servants to vampires, and it’s a relationship like nothing you’ve ever had in your life.  Tell yourself you love her or don’t love her.  It doesn’t matter.  If you are meant to be her full servant, you are bound together in a a way that would tear out your heart and half the things in your gut if you decided to walk away from it.”


If you like A Vampire’s Claim of The Vampire Queen series…

If you enjoyed A Vampire’s Claim and the rest of the Vampire Queen series for its hard-hitting emotional impact, you may also like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series (starting with Dark Lover) by J.R. Ward and the Psy/Changeling series (starting with Slave to Sensation) by Nalini Singh.  Although the Psy/Changeling series features shapeshifters and psychics rather than vampires, the relationships between the characters are intense and the bonds extremely strong.  Both of these series will make you laugh, cry, and just about everything in between!  Highly recommended reads.

If you liked A Vampire’s Claim for its heavy sexual content and explicivity, check out the Meredith Gentry series (starting with A Kiss of Shadows) and the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.  The Anita Blake series starts with Guilty Pleasures, but the erotica aspect doesn’t become the dominant component of the stories until Narcissus in Chains (book #10).  You can’t really safely start halfway through the series, but there are a few wikis and fansites out there that will give you an overview if you choose to skip the horror-focused first half.

Final thoughts:

Overall excellent character development and plotlines, and seriously intense relationships both between the characters and growth within themselves.  If not for my city girl aversion to all-things-unsophisticated, I would probably have scored this one much higher.  As it is, I enjoyed it but have no plans to read it again from start to finish… maybe just some snippets here and there.  *grin*

Rating:
4.25 fangs: Bite it! 

Related links:

http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)

http://www.jrward.com/ (The Black Dagger Brotherhood series website)

http://www.nalinisingh.com/ (The Psy/Changeling series website)

http://www.laurellkhamilton.org/ (The Merry Gentry & Anita Blake series websites)

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Review: Midnight Awakening (Midnight Breed novel #3), by Lara Adrian

TLDR recap:

On a mission to track down a dangerous continuing threat to the Breed, Tegan must face his centuries-old demons and open his heart if he’s to complete the hunt.  Elise, widowed and having recently lost her only son to the killer vampire drug Crimson, is slowly dying to the side-effects of her Breedmate talent.  With her connections in the Agency’s politics, Elise can open doors for Tegan and the order, but she’ll have to surrender some of herself to survive long enough to avenge her son’s death.

    • Title: Midnight Awakening
    • Series: The Midnight Breed – book #3
    • Author: Lara Adrian
    • Prominent Characters: Tegan & Elise, Andreas Reichen
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

In pursuit of Lucan’s warmongering Gen One brother, Tegan, the coldest of the Order’s warriors, teams up with Elise, the widow of a high-ranking Agency director, who is on a quest for vengeance after her only son goes Rogue and must be killed.  Tegan & Elise are a fairly unlikely couple at first glance, but their chemistry is strong and their gifts complement one another well.

Thoughts:

This third installment is my favorite to date, having read through the first 6 novels in the series now.  Tegan is ice cold and calculating, and I’ve never really liked him until this novel.  We get to see his background and understand what happened that’s made him the way he is.  Elise is a character that I initially (before this story) did not like.  I prefer strong female leads and her whiny, clingy society-wife persona grated on my nerves in the second book (Dante’s book, Kiss of Crimson).  However, luckily for us (and unluckily for Elise), losing her husband and her son changed her outlook on life, and she grew a nice strong spine in the months between the 2nd and 3rd novels in the Midnight Breed series.

Tegan and Elise’s chemistry is surprisingly steamy, and I like Tegan best of all the romantic male leads in this series.  Somehow he’s just more raw, yet complicated… but not so complicated that he can’t be affected by Elise.  Watching her break down his hard outer shell is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this book.  I also like his domineering romantic style and the fact that he’s so verbal during their steamy scenes together.  Ms. Adrian did a great job making him appear both vulnerable and tender, while still keeping up his cocky, hard-ass warrior facade.  Elise also, is a good character – strong and determined, but also smart and physically capable.  She’s not a warrior,  but she’s no wilting wallflower either.

The other aspect of this story that I really enjoyed was the puzzle.  This story arc has a definite Dan Brown vibe to it, reminiscent of Angels & Demons or The Da Vinci Code.

Memorable quotes:

Move over Arnold…

As the three of them watched in awe, the front door of the place banged open, tearing clean off its hinges.  Not by the force of the blast, but by the will of a single individual.

Rolling orange fire silhouetted him from behind, backlighting the warrior’s broad shoulders and casual, long-legged stride.  As he strolled away from the inferno, the ends of his loose black coat winged out behind him like a cape befitting the prince of darkness himself.

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi…

“I can learn.  I want to learn.  Please, Tegan.  I need to learn.”

“And you think I’m the one to help you?”

“I think you’re my only hope.”

If you like…

If you like Midnight Awakening, you will very likely enjoy the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J. R. Ward.  The similarities are many, but there are enough differences to keep the stories from feeling like carbon copies.  I tend to recommend the same series over and over, so I’m not going to say “read Cat & Bones” (although you should) or “Cassie Palmer is great” (even though it is), so I’ll just sneak in some links at the bottom for you if you want to check out any additional reviewer-recommended series.  *grin*

I know these aren’t Paranormal Romance, but you might also enjoy Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.

Final thoughts:

This story is intensely everything: heart-breaking, action-filled, mysterious, steamy and romantic.  It’s also the novel I’d recommend reading to if you’re trying out the series and deciding whether to keep on going.  IMO, Tegan & Elise’s story is the strongest one of the first 6 books, with Nicolai’s (surprisingly) coming in a close second.  If you liked Midnight Awakening, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the series.  If you’re still not that into it after finishing this book, skip the rest and try the Black Dagger Brotherhood or take a chance on something completely new, because it doesn’t get a whole lot better than this one (I mean that in a nice tingly good way)!

Rating:
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/index.htm

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

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