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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review - Blood Bath & Beyond

This book is a new series that spun off a paranormal romance series also titled Immortality Bites.  This is the debut for the main character to enter into the mystery realm, so let's see how this transitional book did.

Author: Michelle Rowen

Copyright:  August 2012 (Signet) 336 pgs

Series:  1st in An Immortality Bites Mystery

Sensuality:  n/a

Mystery Sub-genre:  Paranormal Amateur Sleuth

Main Character:  Sarah Dearly, newbie vampire

Setting:  Modern Day, Las Vegas Nevada

Obtained Through:  from publisher for an honest review

Sarah Dearly is only months old as a vampire (due to a blind date with an undead), but she is now engaged to a 600 year old Master Vampire named Thierry de Bennicoeur. Thierry takes a fifty-year job with a shadowy group called "the Ring," essentially a vampire counsel.  He admits it was an offer he couldn't refuse. This job entails a lot of travel over that next fifty years as well.  Thierry is surprised, and a little pleased, that Sarah refuses to sit in Vancouver, but insists on traveling with him.  Beginning immediately with an assignment in Las Vegas to coral a vampire child beauty pageant contestant, Victoria Corday, that could expose the existence of vampires when people notice she never grows up.  

As soon as they arrive at their hotel they are confronted with a vampire serial killer on the loose, leaving bodies along the strip with fang marks showing on their necks.  Then before you know it, another high-profile master vampire and old nemesis, Bernard DuShaw, is staked and Thierry is taken away by the Ring's top Hunter.  The Ring's Hunter's are widely feared and it looks like Thierry has been setup for DuShaw's murder by an expert.  Sarah refuses to go back to Vancouver where it is safe, and finds herself alone on the streets trying to figure out who killed DuShaw.  While she is at it she finds a Starbucks blood bar and ends up in several dangerous run-ins.

Sarah Dearly is honest to a fault and is genuinely kind to people. In this debut of the mystery incarnation of Immortality Bites, Sarah is challenged to find her inner courage and bad-ass.  As a character, she is a likeable optimist that seems to fall into bad situations.  Thierry is full of secrets and epitomizes the tall, dark, and dangerous vampire.  But Thierry himself came across as a chess piece being maneuvered and I found myself wanting more from his character.  The relationship between Sarah and Thierry is tested and the emotional strain is portrayed well without becoming dark.  The character of Victoria Corday is a surprising breakout and is setup to be a continuing one.  The concept of a child vampire who has a couple of centuries of worldliness yet is still a child is great and was written well. The Ring's top Hunter, Markus Reed, is a mystery on top of being a deadly vampire with a license to kill.  He clearly has some ulterior motive, but we don't get any hint as to what or why.  The ending leaves Markus free to appear in future editions.

Las Vegas was good for this debut novel because of its nightlife and wide-open possibilities for characters like magicians and unique stores.  The gambling or elaborate show aspects were not in evidence as part of the storyline.  The idea of the shadowy Ring who employs hunters and investigates vampires creates a layer of sinister puppet masters that was more prevalent than the city for atmosphere. 

There were several things going with this and the initial assignment is the least important.  The murder of DuShaw and the Vampire serial killer are more critical in the plot.  I had not read the initial Immortality Bites romances but the necessary background was filled in easily.  The story maintains a good pace and seemed to go quickly. My interest was maintained throughout and I just enjoyed the story.  There is plenty of humor as we hear Sarah's commentary.  The humor and the writing style make this lighter than I expected. The confrontation with the serial killer was tense and the wrap up was emotional.

This novel setup the basis for the ongoing mysteries with Thierry's job having them investigating, as well as hints of revelations from his past, and ongoing power-plays with the Ring. It is essentially a cozy with a pretty good fantasy world for the paranormal framing the story for a series thread early on.  I would say that the move from romance to mystery was smooth and successful.  I am certainly looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list.

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Jo said...

I enjoyed this too. And I agree that the transition was smooth considering I didn't realize the connection until AFTER I read it. (I knew the author wrote both but didn't realize the characters moved in both genres.)

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