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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: The Reluctant Vampire (The Argeneau Vampire series #15), by Lynsay Sands

TLDR recap:

Harper isn’t looking for a new life mate, having just lost his first one during her turn.  Drina knows who her life mate is, but she’s not willing to scare him away with any rash announcements or behavior.  They all have bigger problems anyway when someone starts attacking the vampires living in Port Henry.  Who is the intended target?  And has the dreaded no-fanger Leonius found them, or do they face a new threat?

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

    • Title: The Reluctant Vamire
    • Series: The Argeneau Vampire series – book #15
    • Author: Lynsay Sands
    • Prominent Characters: Harper, Drina, Stephanie
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate-to-heavy, somewhat explicit

Thoughts:

The Argeneau Vampire series is one that runs hot and cold for me.  Some of the books I really like a lot and would read again.  One of them I dislike enough to give a rating of 1-Stake (which, to date, I’ve never done) and the rest I think are just so-so and only worth reading once.  This book, The Reluctant Vampire, falls into that last category: I have no plans to read it again.  However, the plot and characters did have their moments and at times it was amusing, tender, suspenseful, and shocking.  I think if the setting had been different, I’d have been less conflicted about it…

Usually, I like to save my quotes for the ‘Memorable Quotes’ section below, but I think this one nicely sums up why I’m disliking this book, and the few that have come before it in the series.  “I thought I lived in goddamned Mayberry with a bunch of Aunt Beas and Andies.  Who knew Port Henry had so many homicidal nutcases running around?”  The homicidal nutcases don’t bother me (because pretty much nothing in Lynsay Sands’ stories ever resembles a truly homicidal nutcase – they’re all too prissy), but the Mayberry-like town does.  Aside from excessive use of the word “peer”, I rather enjoy some of the European and American Argeneau books, but all the ones that have been set in Port Henry have rubbed me wrong.  I read about vampires to get lost in the exotic atmosphere and experience characters I wouldn’t normally meet in real life, but the sleepy little town of Port Henry really does resemble Mayberry.  As much as I enjoyed The Andy Griffith Show when I was growing up (in a small town, mind you), I do NOT want to re-experience it as an adult, especially not in my get-away-in-an-imaginary-world free time!

Something else I’d like to point out to new readers of this series is the author’s over-use of the word “peer”.  Do a word count on “peer” in The Reluctant Vampire.  This term is used more than seventy times- that’s 7-0!!  At least once in EVERY BOOK, all of the major characters (and most of the minors) “peer” at something.  Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about big, bad, strong vampire men, one of the last things I envision them doing is curiously peering around corners and out of windows.  They level stares, they glare, they gaze and take in… but they do not do dainty things like peer all over the damned place!  UGH!  This really drives me batty.  After 15 books, I’ve come to associate the word “peer” with the Lynsay Sands stories, and I have to keep myself from rolling my eyes every time I see it.  Seriously.  *takes deep breath*

Ok, enough complaining about Ms. Sands’ writing quirks.  *wink*  On to the things I did enjoy!  One of the common complaints about this series  is that the later books have no driving, over-arcing plots to keep the reader invested.  This most recent binge of stories in Port Henry has come off a little flat, but looks like it might be rebounding now with the elevation of the recent threat of Leonius, and of possible new developments with edantates (vampires without fangs).  Stephanie, the immature young teenager who is viciously and forcibly turned in an earlier book, makes some definite progress in this story, and I was satisfied to see the direction Ms. Sands is taking it in.  Assuming they get the hell out of Port Henry (which probably won’t happen until after Teddy’s book, the next in the series), the Argeneau series might be able to recover some of its momentum and flash.  I reaaaally hope so.

As far as the chemistry between the primary couple, it’s intense and well-written.  At first I worried about how Harper would progress throughout the story, but he turned out to be a great character, with patience, forethought, passion, and courage.  Drina is also a satisfying character, with her fiery temper, do-anything attitude, and quirky misunderstanding of American wildlife and slang.

Memorable quotes:

On horror movies…

And while Drina had dipped into enough male mortal minds to know that the majority of them seemed to think about sex every fifth or sixth heartbeat, she was quite sure even they wouldn’t think it clever or exciting to drag a female away from the safety of the herd to indulge in a quicky when dismembered bodies of friends or partygoers were falling all around them like a Canadian winter.

Ah, the exuberance of mortal teens!

“Man oh man, that was – Man!” he yelled, reaching them, his eyes round holes of shock and awe as he eyed Harper.  He flew his hand through the air in an arc as if emulating the bottle’s trajectory.

“And you were like waaaaah.”  Mouth open, he mimicked Harper diving for the bottle, and then shook his head, and said, “Man, you kick ass.  That was freaking amazing!”

From Harper to Teddy (seriously, an elderly sherriff in the equivalent of Mayberry knows what “FM boots” are?  I don’t buy it!)…

“You know about FMs?” Harper asked with surprise over Drina’s head.


If you like The Reluctant Vampire of The Argeneau Vampire series…

If you enjoyed The Reluctant Vampire and the Argeneau Vampire series for the behavior quirks of its main characters, you might also like The Southern Vampire Chronicles (Sookie Stackhouse) series by Charlaine Harris.  Sookie has a tendency to be stuffy and prissy in her I’m-not-running-for-my-life morality moments, and there is a large cast of vampires to get to know.

If you like the Argeneau series for its large cast, you would probably also enjoy the Dark series by Christine Feehan.  The stories start to feel somewhat similar after a while (like with the Argeneau series), but they do move around and allow the reader to experience different cultures and areas of the world, and the passion between characters is generally satisfying.

Another series, with a more traditional type of vampire (the romantic kind, not the dracula-horror kind!) is Midnight Breed by Lara Adrian.  I recommend this series for lovers of the Argeneaus, because it has multiple stories dedicated to different couples, with many of them guest-starring in each others’ books, and a similar feel to the connection developed between the couples.

Final thoughts:

I Reluctantly give this book 4 Fangs.  It was a close thing, mind you, considering how much I really dislike reading about Port Henry.  If I’m going to have to suffer Mayberry personalities, at least give me the splendor of Europe or the excitement of a Romantic Times Convention.  That said, this book was a fun read and it did make me laugh at times.  It also has decent action scenes (but nothing really scintillating) and seems to be guiding the plot arc down a new, unexpected path.

If you are a fan of the Argeneau series, of course you should read this.  If you are not currently a reader of the series, then I wouldn’t start with this one (and AVOID AVOID AVOID the very first one too!!!  That’s my 1-Stake book).  If you don’t care about series and just want a fun read, crack this book and sit down for a cozy read.

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT, but beware peering villains!

Related links:

http://www.lynsaysands.net/ (The Argeneau Vampire series website)

http://www.charlaineharris.com/ (The Sookie Stackhouse series website)

http://www.christinefeehan.com/ (The Dark series website)

http://www.laraadrian.com/ (The Midnight Breed series website)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Andy_Griffith_Show (The Andy Griffith Show <Mayberry> wiki page)

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Cover art released for Darker After Midnight (Midnight Breed series novel #10, by Lara Adrian)

Scheduled for release on January 24th of next year, Lara Adrian’s tenth offering in her Midnight Breed series officially now has a cover image (see above), and is it ever steamy!

If you’re unfamiliar with the Midnight Breed series, it’s about a group of vampire warriors who band together to protect their race from all threats, especially treachery from within.  This series is somewhat similar to the Black Dagger Brotherhood series in its purpose and mantra, but focuses more on single-story plotlines than multiple over-arching setups.   Darker After Midnight will feature Chase Sterling, a conflicted warrior bent on self-retribution who was introduced early in the series (see the review for Dante & Tess’ book, Kiss of Crimson).  Fans of the series have been waiting a long time for Chase’s story, so it should be exciting!

For more info on the Midnight Breed series, check out Ms. Adrian’s site.

To learn more about the brothers, visit J.R. Ward’s site.

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Jeaniene Frost’s Vlad Tepesh to get his own series of novels

Fans of Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones featured above), are no doubt excited about the prospect of a Vlad-centric series of novels.  Vlad will be getting his own spunky heroine, Leila, and Ms. Frost promises that she’ll give him “a run for his money that he’ll never be expecting.”  Tentative plans are for the first Vlad and Leila novel to release some time in 2012, but I’ll post updates as I hear about them!  From Ms. Frost’s Night Huntress blog

And finally, I spoke to my editor firming up the plot summary for Vlad’s book and discussing my wish list for the cover. My editor and I are in agreement that we’d like to see just Vlad on the cover, with him and Leila on the stepback (kind of a reverse of the Cat and Bones covers). Now, I need to brainstorm a title for the book. It won’t have “grave” in it to denote that it’s NOT a C&B book, but I don’t know if I want a recurring word in his titles or not. Do you like it when a series has a recurring word in the title, or does that make you crazy? Also, if anyone wants to share their idea for a title for Vlad’s book, please do. If my editor gives your suggestion a thumb’s up, I’ll be sure to mention you in the acknowledgments, if you’d like.

In other equally exciting news, Cat & Bones have been upgraded from 7 books to 9!  This means we get a few more years to enjoy our favorite paranormal romance couple and the rich world Ms. Frost has built around them.  Woo!  *throws confetti*  Cat & Bones #5 (This Side of the Grave) was released earlier this year, and two more are planned for 2011 release dates: One Grave at a Time (C&B #6) and a short story in a holiday-themed anthology called The Bite Before Christmas.  More from Ms. Frost’s blog…

What’s this story about, I’ll again assume you asked? :) . It’s a Cat and Bones tale called Home for the Holidays, where long buried secrets of Bones’s past resurface to take a bite out of their holiday cheer. I’ve mentioned in other places that a member of the Night Huntress crew has known some bombshell things about Bones’s history that even he wasn’t aware of. In Home for the Holidays, I finally get to reveal who that person is and share those secrets with readers, which I’ve been itching to do. 

Deleted scenes from This Side of the Grave?  Yes, please!

There’s one small scene snippet featuring Vlad in a cowboy outfit that I’ll have to dig out, but give me a little time. I’ll be sure to let everyone know once it’s up. 

Yay for Cat & Bones updates!!  ❤

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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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Review: Kiss of Crimson (Midnight Breed series novel #2), by Lara Adrian

TLDR recap:

Destined to be together, yet both cursed with “gifts” they do not want, Dante and Tess enjoy a steamy chemistry but struggle with seemingly incompatible lives.  Tess’ healing touch for her veterinary patients is immediately at odds with Dante’s violent calling, but just as the Breed war stops for no one, the couple’s intense bond leaves no room for negotiation.  This second novel in the Midnight Breed series is more fast-paced than the first, and brings in new characters and starts new story arcs.

    • Title: Kiss of Crimson
    • Series: The Midnight Breed – book #2
    • Author: Lara Adrian
    • Prominent Characters: Dante & Tess, Sterling Chase
    • Recommended reader age: 17+
    • Sexual content level: Moderate

Note: This review may contain some very small spoilers, mostly involving new characters and the abilities used by the marquee couple: no major plot devices are given away in this post.

Premise:

Dante and Tess both have personal challenges to overcome, not the least of which being that Tess is now pursued by Rogues & Minions (if those terms don’t make sense to you, go back and read Kiss of Midnight first!) that she doesn’t even know exist and Dante is haunted by his own impending death.  Having unwittingly bonded them together, Dante must keep Tess alive & safe without pushing her away by what he is, and Tess must overcome her fear of her extraordinary Breedmate talent.

Thoughts:

I enjoyed this one more than the first in the series, Kiss of Midnight.  That’s probably partly because I liked Dante’s personality better than Lucan’s, Dante being the good-natured younger kick-ass warrior with a sense of humor.   I also liked Tess a lot.  As a vet running a clinic in a low-rent part of town, with clientelle who can’t always pay, Tess’s financial woes and dedication struggling to keep the clinic open were genuine, and there are so many unsung heroes like that in our own society that I was glad to see it get face time, even if it’s just in a fictional story.  Wow, that sentence was loooooong.

Tess’s Breedmate talent of healing is not really a revelation (nor very much of a spoiler, given how early in the book it’s implied) since it makes sense that the Order would need a “doctor” of some sort going forward in the series.  I am honestly trying not to make comparisons with the BDB (Black Dagger Brotherhood) as I read through these Midnight Breed novels, but there are so many parallels that it’s really tough!  For example, Tess’s healing reminds me of Doc Jane and Dante’s visions obviously bring the brain around to Vishous… and since Doc Jane and V are also paired up, it really cinches the comparison.   It’s sort of like reading Harry Potter for the first time and seeing all the references to other literary works that are woven into it – still enjoyable, just more comfortably familiar for the similiarities.

This novel brings in a new story arc with the character Sterling Chase.  I really liked him throughout the entire book, through all his stress and troubles, and I liked the possibilities that he brings to the overall flow of the series.  There was one part that seemed a little inconsistent to me though… In the first book, Gabrielle showed signs of Lucan’s bite long enough for her captors to see and recognize it, but when Dante first bites Tess, the mark disappears before she has a chance to even see it in the mirror.  In no other part of the book does Tess seem to have any extra self-healing powers, but maybe it’s just implied?  In any case, the chemistry between Dante and Tess is strong and their scenes together were enjoyable and had a lot of character to them.

Memorable quotes:

I’m the world’s perfect predator.  Wait, does this mean you sparkle? 

“Your kind?” she asked, growing very weary of his game.  “Okay, I give up.  Just what is your kind?”

“I am a warrior.  One of the Breed.”

“Right, a warrior.  And breed, as in… what kind of breed?”

For a long moment, he just looked at her, like he was weighting his answer.  “As in vampire, Tess.”

Holy Moses on a pogo stick.  He was beyond crazy.

If you like…

If you like Kiss of Crimson, 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*

Final thoughts:

So far, this series is off to a good, strong start.  I still feel it could be a little stronger, but having just finished #3 (Midnight Awakening)… arg, I’m seriously behind on the reviews!… I know it’s about to get even better, so I’m excited to keep reading.   For the BDB I always tell new readers to stick it out past the second book (Rhage & Mary’s story, Lover Eternal) before they decide to keep reading or quit.  For the Midnight Breed series, I’m going to recommend reading all the way through the end of Midnight Awakening (#3, Tegan’s story) before deciding.  I think that’s really where the series is going to pick up momentum and come into its own.

Rating:
4.25 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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Review: Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed series novel #1) by Lara Adrian


TLDR recap:

Romance, danger, and intrigue abound in this first novel of the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian.  Featuring Lucan, one of the oldest vampires in existence, and Gabrielle, an artistically talented human Breedmate, this novel starts the series off with a fang… er, bang.  This is a good alternative to the Black Dagger Brotherhood, for those of you already fiending for your next fix.  Read on for more info…

  • Title: Kiss of Midnight
  • Series: The Midnight Breed – book #1
  • Author: Lara Adrian
  • Prominent Characters: Lucan & Gabrielle
  • Recommended reader age: 17+
  • Sexual content level: Moderate

Premise:

After 900+ years of life, Gen One Breed warrior Lucan is struggling to find the will to keep fighting the good fight and it’s all that keeps him going.  Gabrielle is a promising young photographer with a knack for finding her way to places she shouldn’t.  After she witnesses (and photographs!) a brutal and gruesome Rogue vampire attack, Lucan must protect Gabrielle from enemies she doesn’t even know she has, while trying to keep his distance from her as an unknowing Breedmate.

Thoughts:

After coming off an intense Black Dagger Brotherhood bender, I’m finding this review a little difficult to write, so I apologize if this comes across as more of a comparison between the two series than as a review – it’s just what’s on my brain.  The BDB is one of those series that catches your attention demands your rapt devotion through a skillfully woven story of angst, family, unbreakable love, and tragedy and there just aren’t many series out there that meet its standard of excellence.  That said, the first book of the BDB series (Dark Lover) has a very similar feel to Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series starter Kiss of Midnight.  It starts off a little slow and has the unenviable task of trying to introduce the readers to this brand new universe, while explaining all the rules, introducing all the new characters, and creating an intense and believable chemistry between the marquee characters.  Kiss of Midnight does achieve that, although maybe with slightly less flair and intensity than Dark Lover.

Lucan is very similar to Wrath: the leader of a band of warrior brothers who is stoic, dedicated, intense, extremely strong, and very old.  The chemistry between Lucan and Gabrielle is quick and passionate, but still believable.  However, instead of being a female vampire, Gabrielle is a human “Breedmate”, a rare genetic occurrence marked by a teardrop falling into the bowl of a crescent moon visible somewhere on the skin.  Breedmates are the only women who can mate with vampires (who are all male) and produce children.  Occasionally drinking their mates’ blood allows them to remain young and healthy indefinitely.

It seems every series has something that annoys me in each new novel.  In the BDB, its the prolific use of the word “shitkickers” instead of “boots”, even by the refined females of the house.  In the Midnight Breed series, it is the word “suckhead”, used in reference to the Rogue vampires who have fallen under the sway of permanent Bloodlust.  I’m not sure why it bothers me, it just does!  Honestly though, if that’s all I can find to complain about, that’s a nod to the quality of the writing of the series.  *wink*

Memorable quotes:

They’re more like guidelines anyway…

Here, someone had discreetly severed the links with a wire cutter, creating a breach just large enough for a curious adolescent to wriggle through – or a determined female photographer who tended to view No Trespassing and Authorized Personnel Only signs more as friendly suggestions rather that enforceable laws.

If you like…

If you like Kiss of Midnight, 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*

Final thoughts:

Considering the headspace I’ve been in recently, with the newest BDB book on the brain and those unforgettable storylines hashing it out in my brain at every opportunity, this book was entertaining enough to keep me focused on it and wanting to read more.  Does it match up to my BDB expectations?  No, at least not yet.  To be fair though, Dark Lover didn’t completely blow me away the first time either and look how well that’s gone!

This series has potential, and having already read #2 (Kiss of Crimson – Dante’s book), I can tell you that the plotlines start to open up more and the stage is set for some serious drama down the line.  In fact, some of the intrigue in Kiss of Midnight was pretty surprising and most definitely gripping.  If you’re looking for a BDB alternative or just looking for a lengthy series to get started on (MB is up to 8 books so far, with the 9th set to release in June 2011), the Midnight Breed series is a good place to start.

Rating:
4.0 fangs: BITE IT, but keep in mind this is a series starter and is a little slower than the ones that follow! =)

Related links:

http://www.laraadrian.com/

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

http://jeanienefrost.com/

http://www.karenchance.com/

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