Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Drop of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost

The night is not safe for mortals.

Denise MacGregor knows all too well what lurks in the shadows – her best friend is half-vampire Cat Crawfield – and she has already lost more than the average human could bear. But her family’s dark past is wrapped in secrets and shrouded in darkness – and a demon shapeshifter has marked Denise as prey. Now her survival depends on an immortal who craves a taste of her.

He is Spade, a powerful, mysterious vampire who has walked the earth for centuries and is now duty-bound to protect this endangered, alluring human – even if it means destroying his own kind. Denise may arouse his deepest hungers, but Spade knows he must fight his urge to have her as they face the demon nightmare together…

Because once the first drop of crimson falls, they will both be lost.

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Warning: If you haven't read books 1-4 of Night Huntress this review will probably contain a few spoilers of things that happen in them.

This book is the first in a spin-off series from Night Huntress, and as such doesn't focus on Cat and Bones, though they do play a significant part in the latter part of the book. Most all of the characters here should be familiar to readers of Night Huntress though, for we have seen most of them several times in the first few books of that series. Despite the change in lead characters, this book did feel like a continuation of the story playing out in the main series and it proved to be a great way to get to know some of the sideline characters better. If you pay attention, there are some important revelations made about some of the characters and their relationships with one another.

We were first introduced to Denise in One Foot in the Grave, book two of the Night Huntress series. She is a human who knows about the existence of supernaturals and is Cat's best friend. At the start of this book, that friendship has become somewhat strained, however, largely due to the events in subsequent books that led to the death of her husband Randy. It's been a little over a year since his death, but Denise is still traumatized by it, in part because of another event she witnessed a few months later. Because of these things, she now suffers from PTSD and has decided that she wants nothing more to do with the supernatural world and has been distancing herself from it, including distancing herself from Cat. Unfortunately for her, there's a demon that has an axe to grind with her family, and she's forced to seek help and protection from those who are the most likely to trigger her PTSD panic attacks: vampires.

Spade has appeared to a greater or lesser extent in all of the first four Night Huntress books, and while we might have learned a fair bit about him from them, we've never really gotten to see who he really is until now. He's felt an attraction for Denise since the first time he met her shortly before her husband was killed, but he has resisted it because she is human. Not that he has anything against humans per se, but events in his past have made him extremely reticent to form any sort of emotional attachment with one. His sense of honor, combined with a sense of duty to his friend Bones (since Denise is under Bones' protection because of her friendship with Cat) prompts him to come to her aid when she calls him for help after one of her cousins is murdered in front of her by an apparent shapeshifter.

The interactions between Denise and Spade are interesting from the beginning. While not exactly hostile, they are definitely wary of one another for their own reasons, though it's true that the wariness is predominantly on Denise's side at first. Both hope to resolve the issue that brings them together quickly so they can go their separate ways again, but as that proves impossible and they find themselves being drawn deeper and deeper into the vampire underworld, their attraction for one another becomes increasingly hard to resist. By the time they're ready to declare their love for one another, overcoming their personal issues that made them resistant to getting involved with one another is the least of their problems and proves to be the easiest one to resolve. Eventually the tougher problems are overcome as well, yet it's clear that the road ahead of them will most likely be a rocky one for some problems remain unresolved and some never will be.

It sort of goes without saying from my rating that I'd highly recommend this book. I would note that you'll probably want to read the first four Night Huntress books before this one if you haven't already because there are some spoilers for those books in this one. You'll probably also be a bit lost regarding some things if you aren't familiar with the previous events that are mentioned here as well as some of the known characters that make appearances large or small in this book. Though I expect they'll be largely in the background going forward, it'll be interesting to see what happens with these two in future, particularly regarding Denise. I don't want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that she is greatly changed in many ways by the end of the book and that can't help but have some sort of significant impact on things in the future. 5 solid stars.

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